I am an habitual person, I’ve always been, from when I have memory. I always loved doing the same things ove and over again: repeating tasks makes it easier to make them, they become automatic in the long run. The first thing I can think of which I enjoyed doing which was habitual and repeating was gaming, as a young adolescent I loved computer games - it was what made me take the career I took - and one of the games I enjoyed the most was an MMORPG where you had to farm experience and money in order to get better, and richer, once you reached the maximum level and obtained all the most powerful items you could obtain. It was a freemium game, everyone could play for free, but it was much easier to buy things with cash, making the climb to the top much faster. I never paid any cash: both because I didn’t have any and my parents wouldn’t give me any to spend on an online game, and because I simply didn’t want to. I was in the mindset of under evaluating my time: my time was “free”, so I could spend hours and hours playing without paying and I would obtain the same thing I could buy for, I don’t know, maybe £5.
After graduating from high school I enrolled in a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science away from home, I rented a room with other students, and started a new life. But the habituality pattern remained. As we say in Italian: “Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio”, which translates to: “a leopard cannot change its spots”. And so I kept going with my - changing - habits: I switched routine, waking up just before lectures (in high school I had to commute to my school, 45 minutes), having lunch together with other students, studying in the afternoon, having a drink before dinner, having dinner with my flat mates, studying some more or watching something on streaming, going to bed - repeat. My habits changed over time, quite a lot, some of them remained, some of them are long lost now. But the consistency of having habits stuck with me.
There is something about habits that I love, I don’t know what it is, but doing the same thing every day makes me feel good, especially if that thing is a positive thing that improves my life. I started doing sports (running) during my years at university, and it’s been now more than 5 years that I train 5 or 6 days a week, with 1 day rest (usually Sunday). This is the longest habit I’ve had, consistently, for so much time, and for no matter what reason, I never missed. Another habits that I have from a long time is journaling, this one is a 7/7 already, and I know that because I can remember a dairy entry that goes like this: “today I didn’t reach my steps goal - as planned - and I really rested for good. I still moved a bit, but not too much, I need to prioritise recovery if I want my ankle to heal quickly”. That period I was injured in my right ankle, and I recall having pain while moving and doing some types of exercises. So I planned a day off, to prioritise recovery.
All this is to say that there are habits that we do daily, habits that we do 5 or 6 days a week, and habits that we might do once or twice a week. All of them are to be considered habits, in my opinion, if there is a repeating pattern. You might do a specific type of holiday every year, but you’ve been consistent with it for the past 4 or 5 years, that’s an yearly habit. You might go out to the cinema once a month, do the grocery once a week, or check in with some distant friend fortnightly; you name it, if it’s repeating, it doesn’t matter how often you do it. Or does it?
I started to realise later on, that the frequency of habits actually matters, especially if the habit under the lens gives you some feeling you might otherwise not get, or if it does impact your life somehow.
A good example for me was meditation. I started doing it as a test, to see if I could really improve my focus and concentration, and since this was the goal, I started doing it every working day. I’ve been at it for more than 2 years now, almost always avoiding the weekends. It works perfectly, I can see how much my focus has improved over the months, how easily I can go back on work if I get distracted, how quickly I now realise I lose my mind over some random thoughts while doing some other tasks that demand my attention. This allows me to go back on track and stay concentrated. I started to notice my mind wandering a lot, and as soon as I realise it is going wild, it has become easier to refocus. But why stop at 5 days a week (I have an office work)? Why not doing it every day? Surely it can’t hurt.
That is the question I started asking my self. The main - and initial - reason was that I didn’t have the need to feel more concentrated and focused on a weekend, I could let my mind wander as much as it wanted to. But meditation is not only concentration and focus. It’s also fighting instincts, controlling your lower brain (the fast thinker in “Thinking - fast and slow”). Another thing to consider it the time spent doing so: 10-15 minutes of meditation are not too many, but not always during the weekend you can cut out the time for doing so. All worthless excuses. So I decided to step up that habit to 7 days a week.
Another habit I’m promoting is the one I mentioned above: training. I still want to recover at least 1 day a week, so I won’t do any strength or mass training for at least once a week, but I want to do something: the plan has been to incorporate a recovery yoga flow on Sundays morning as soon as I wake up. Since I started, my Sundays suddenly got better: I feel relaxed and more elastic after my session, and also satisfied and content, accomplished.
Keep in mind I’m not promoting all my habits to be 7/7, I will still do the grocery only once a week - for convenience, I will still travel roughly once a year, and I won’t allow myself more than the weekend to watch TV series or films - not that Saturday or Sundays are actually reserved for that, I mean it more like in a “2 out of 7” way.
So far all the habits that I expanded to 7 days made me feel better, more aligned with them, and it’s actually easier to remember to do them, to stick with them, and to enjoy doing them: they become part of who you are, of the person you are.
What about you? What are your current habits? Do you actually like habits in the first place? How easy do you find to implement habits, add them or remove them if they are habits you don’t want? How often/frequent are those habit in your life? And what’s the habits that gave you the most in a time/rewards ratio? For me, it surely is sport.