This morning I got up at 5.30 so I could hit the gym at six when it opens. I’ve been doing this a couple of mornings for the last few weeks.
The worst part of getting up that early is getting out of my warm comfy bed on a chill winter morning. Once I make the jump, it’s great. I love being up early and checking off my workout. It’s that one hurdle that makes it so hard.
My solution was to make it a habit. I’ve found that if you program your mind with the intention to get up, the night before, it’s a whole lot easier. I’m often awake half an hour before the alarm goes off.
They say that habits are everything. Your whole day is nothing but a series of habits, right down to what you think and feel. Whenever self-appointed smart people start up with that talk about like we’re dancing automations on a Disney ride, I get suspicious.
We have a robotic side, much the same way as a mostly good person can have a dirty skeleton in the closet. What I don’t trust is this idea that we’re blind fools reacting to every last thing around us.
Unlike machines and the stupider animals, we can think. I suggest that you do that whenever possible.
Even so, there’s things I do every single day without fail. Besides my early gym session, my morning goes like this:
- Brush my teeth right after I wake up
- Drink a glass of water
- Breathing meditation for 5 minutes. Inhale for six, hold for six, exhale for eight.
- Write 750 words
One right after the other. I don’t have to think about that stuff. It’s automatic now, and I don’t mind that one bit.
I’d mind a lot if the automatic pilot took away from the activities I want to enjoy.
I believe this happens to us all too often. Habits can work for you. They also work against you. Yeah, I mean the usual bad-habits list like smoking and drinking too much.
I also mean those patterns of thoughtless boredom that seem to hit us when we “don’t have anything to do”.
Aristotle wrote in the Ethics that character is habit. He called habitual character your “second nature”. It’s second nature because you have to learn it, unlike your biological nature.
If you learn to be habitually absent from your own life, you’ve picked up bad habits indeed. Presence of mind is key to all of the habits Aristotle calls virtues.
The greatest gift of human beings is our power to stop what we’re doing and wonder about it. Animals can’t do that at all, and it’s real hard even for humans.
Which means you’ve got to practice it. Like any skill, your own freedom is trainable. Your habits can work for your, or against you.
I’m putting these processes to work in my own life. If you’d like help using them in yours, click here and let’s see what I can do for you.