Thursday, January 24, 2013

Habit forming

January 23

One of the best books I read last year was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. He describes how much of our lives we spend carrying out habits that we have formed. Something like 40% of our day is directed by habit. Wow! That is a lot. It really got me thinking. One of the reasons I started this project was to try and get myself and my family into the habit of being outside. I figured once we establish the habit it will have momentum and kind of run itself.

Today I had the first inkling that our habits are changing. I think, just maybe, leaving the garage open when we come home has become a trigger for the habit of . . . yes, playing outside. Duhigg talks about how habits work, very simple really. There is a trigger for the habit, the activity of the habit, and the reward. So I think, I hope, I have set up a trigger that leads to being outside. And the reward? FUN!

Here is what happened. My little one and I pull into the driveway after a morning out of the house. It is bitter cold, biting wind, sunny but chillingly cold. I'm not really thinking about playing outside, I'm COLD! An unscrewed water bottle drenched one arm of my heavy coat that morning in the car so I'm under dressed and ready for some tea. But as soon as we pull into the garage, before I can hit the button to close the door, my little one asks excitedly, "Can we play outside?" Oh, yes, yes my little one we can. I rush inside and grab another coat and hats for us both. Out we go. I push her on the mini bike with the long handle. Around and around she peddles nearly missing bushes and walls. Her nose is pink and she squints against the wind. But we are out in this winter world, even if just for a while. It feels so good. I feel my face chill and my lungs fill with sharp clean air. There will be plenty of time later for hot tea (another fine habit).

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