As I mentioned earlier, I am starting off the new year with a rousing cabal of habits. I have done research on and off into habits and self-discipline. However, it hasn’t really ever stuck for me.
A popular writer in the habit field is James Clear, with his novel Atomic Habits. After skimming, and looking for various action points, I was left a little dissatisfied. I have run into the ideas of habit stacking, conditioning, etc. before. And I have tried them again and again. This year, I am trying something different.
While these techniques have undoubtedly worked for others, I have simply found no success with them. Whenever I focus on making something a “habit”, my brain immediately becomes viscerally disinterested in whatever it is. I tried this with yoga a year or so ago. I wanted to build a 30-day habit. But after 3 days, the thought of even unrolling the mat was too much. So I dropped it.
Around July of last year, I decided to try again with yoga, but this time was different. Before, yoga was decidedly a physical exercise that I went into with goals of increasing flexibility, easing pain, and getting stronger. However, this time, yoga was more centered around spirituality. In fact, I wrote down in a journal why behind why I wanted to do yoga. Maybe this is ridiculously obvious, but I had never sat down and worked out my actual motivations for the habit. Further, the motivations that I did have in the past were always shallow, often related to some vague goals of physical improvement or intellectual advancement. However, this time, I really wrote down exactly what I was hoping to gain and how yoga could help me in life.
Now, when I unroll the mat, it isn’t just to check a box. It is a chance to slow down, recenter myself, and practice physical gratitude for my body. The increased strength and flexibility are secondary benefits. There is a deeper, more human meaning that is affirmed every time I practice.
I think this is also why discipline is so off-putting to me. I don’t want to force myself to do things (reasonably, of course; sometimes it is unavoidable). For habits, I want to improve, I am now focused on actually searching for the deeper reasons that I hope to do them.
This post is day 5 of the #