Habits

About a year ago, I started running. I wanted to create the habit of running 2-3 times a week to help with my keep my mood balanced; it helps improve my mood when I’m depressed and it helps dispel restlessness when I’m hypomanic. I had no goal in mind in terms of an event to aim for, I didn’t want to get faster or run faster; I just wanted to run and do it regularly.

This was very different to when I had tried running before and had been unsuccessful. I had tried too quickly to run too fast or do too much too early and had got injured or overdone it to the point of giving up. But, for me, the habit of running has been an outlet for my mind, it’s made my knees stronger, gives my heart and lungs a workout and helps burn off a bit of excess fat.

Anyone who thinks that there is no point to running for running sake is just blind to the multiple positives that it can bring. You don’t have to run a marathon, you don’t have to take 3 minutes off you PB in next week’s Parkrun. You can just run to be healthy. For better physical and mental health.

The success of my running habit has encouraged me to start writing as a habit to face a fear deep rooted from my adolescence that has stunted my personal growth. I am aware of the great Aristotle quote:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

I have used this when teaching children and encouraging them to practice to develop a skill but I have largely ignored this in my own life. My life had become infiltrated by external negative habits that I felt controlled me. I suffered. That’s why I am writing this now.

Positive habits help give us a sense of purpose and structure, perhaps when we need it most. To become successful at anything, you need to practice – that can’t be ignored. Here is some key reading to back that up.

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers

Summary of Matthew Syed – Bounce: The myth of Talent and Power of Practice.

Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit (summary)

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