“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I am a loyal fan and follower of the great philosopher Aristotle and upon reading this quote the other day, it was as if a lightbulb went off inside my head. We are all born with certain characteristics embedded within us, that no matter how much we try to change, they can be altered, and even suppressed but never erased from our personalities.
Then there are the habits that we do in our lives, some good and some bad, that lead us to who we are today. These habits are often mistaken for acts of our character, when in fact they are behaviors that we constantly repeat. Unlike our personalities, these habits or behaviors can be changed. The key is to be consistent with them and eventually they will become habits that are second nature to us.
Take me for example. I characteristically am a sensitive person and my feelings get hurt quite easily. I have learned over time to not take things so personally by reflecting on what it is that was said or done to me that affected me in a negative way. After such reflection, I come to an understanding as to why my feelings were hurt and I feel better. This is my way or working with an existing, unchangeable characteristic that is within me that I cannot change.
However, I have some good habits and some bad ones. When I was about 24 years old I gained a lot of weight working in an office and I blamed my environment for “making” me fat. One day I started going to the gym each morning before work to complete 5 miles regardless how long they took, and whether or not they were completed with jogging, running or walking. I did this every day and eventually it became a habit that I never quit. People would ask me how I was so dedicated and other assumed I was a fitness nut. It was just a habit that I got into, a positive one.
We often get caught up in negative habits that we mistaken for signs that we are weak of character or not “great” at something. The truth of the matter is, that we haven’t trained ourselves for greatness. We have not established habits in our lives to make positive changes in our lives. When I feel my life not going in the direction that makes me feel the best about myself, I reflect on my everyday rituals and behaviors and make positive changes. By doing these behaviors daily, they in turn become habits that lead me to where I want to be and who I want to become.
Just some food for thought that you can implement within your own life.