A long time fan of Philsophers Notes, I get these great short blog posts in my inbox daily. One recent morning, Brian Johnson pops up and starts talking about habits, using this Maxwell Maltz quotation to kick off the post: “Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other. The word ‘habit’ originally meant a garment or clothing… Our habits are literally garments worn by our personalities. They are not accidental, or happenstance. We have them because they fit us. They are consistent with our self-image and our entire personality pattern. When we consciously and deliberately develop new and better habits, our self-image tends to outgrow the old habits and grow into the new pattern.”
Think of a monk’s habit or monastic tunic. That drab brown cloak worn by those friars spoke volumes. When I was in Thailand, the bright orange habits of the Buddhist monks set them apart from everyone else. Those garments carried symbolic weight and intention.
I started thinking about the habits I was wearing. Not my clothes, but the repeated thinking and actions that I cling to or unwittingly embrace.
It’s not pretty. I can be caustic and optimistic as my friend posted on my Facebook wall. I can be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, hiding my true personas with a flip or twist of my hair.
Johnson asked two questions at the end of the post:
Shopping spree: What ONE new habit do you need to develop in your life?
Closet cleanse: What ONE old habit needs to go?
I need to go on a shopping spree and pick up patience and elation. If I could purchase these at Kohl’s with my 30 percent off coupon, I’d be golden. I need to let go of the constant need to be right and be perfect. If I could drop this off at the Goodwill and get a donation form for my 2013 taxes, I would be happy.
But I can’t. This will take some time and effort. But at least I am aware of the habits I am wearing and what needs to change.