Habits CAN Be Changed
I have just come from Sunday brunch with my wife, youngest daughter and her husband at my Country Club, and during lunch I kept thinking about how habits hold us all. We were on time at twenty after ten as agreed, which is my own life-long habit, partly from my years in radio and television but also following the ways of life of my maternal grandfather, who was always ready twenty minutes early. I favour him because he was short among tall people, as I am. My paternal grandfather was six foot ten, or rather a brother of his was. About my father's father I never knew, as he was knifed in the back by a drunk whom he was throwing from his dining room saloon out in Colorado during one of the gold rushes. I'll get back to that later, but this column is about habit.
Actually, my daughter and her husband were right on time, on their own time, because they are knowingly and even consciously twenty minutes late for everything. I know that they could change that if they wanted to enough. Now I'll go back to a time when a surgeon, whom I had taught to cut up cats in pre-medical school, took two-thirds of my left lung for cancer in a nine-hour operation. When the pathology report came back the first of the following week, the suspicious lump had been calcified tuberculosis. So I was sent to the TB hospital for some months for a disease I hadn't had for years. There we were on bed rest for the first couple of months, except once a day to the toilet. We were supposed to sleep from noon till one o'clock, although in bed 24 hours a day, and I thought this was hilarious. However, after about three weeks I could tell when noon approached because I was falling asleep.
That's when I really learned about habit, and have used it to my benefit many times since. It works especially well if you use it to replace a bad habit. After two weeks, you feel guilty if you don't do whatever it is now your habit to do.
Change of habit can be done, and you can almost make yourself over, habit by habit, to a new, better designed you.
I have been writing these pages or columns or whatever long enough that I feel vaguely badly if I were not to do it. Since it is a habit for me to tell other people what to do, now you can go do it.