Atomic Habits and Shedding Identities

My office sits next to the restroom. As I type this, my coworker is sitting on the toilet with the fan turned on (thank you!) and watching Family Feud via his cellphone. No, I’m not spying. I’m writing this post. He’s in there with the phone turned loud enough so that he can hear the show while the fan is running. “Milk” was not an answer in Fast Money(TM). My coworker yelled, “tea,” but Steve Harvey didn’t hear him. Steve, does tea count?

The reason I’m typing this is for my amusement. No, it is for my betterment. There’s something I get from writing that I can’t articulate. When I write, my brain hums. And when I write daily, I feel like my life begins to make a beautiful melody out of those brain hums. If I miss a day, there’s a pause in the music.

I’m doing it for you, too

I started this site with my life’s mission in mind: presence, curiosity, and love. I spent a while brainstorming, meditating, and journaling. My process began with trying to figure out my life’s goals. That’s where James Clear’s book ATOMIC HABITS came into play. In his book, James said (not really), “you will never achieve your goals, so don’t bother setting any.” I jest. What he actually wrote is, “you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” Read that again.

James has a lot of great quotes and teachings in ATOMIC HABITS; I highly recommend it. What sold me is James’s approach to daily practice. Using my writing as an example, I could write a few hundred words a day, or I could write a few thousand words every weekend. Guess which method would give me better results (assuming “results” could mean anything)? 

Sustained small effort maximizes potential over substantial subregular effort. In other words, a little every day is better than a lot every now-and-then. In other, other words, I like writing daily. It helps. So does meditating daily. So does a lot of stuff.

Seriously, it is for you

Not really, it is mainly for me. Isn’t that why we do things? For ourselves? Life would suck if we went around and only did stuff for other people. Living life is an individual endeavor meant for that individual to relish as they want. That means you. That means your life. I am living my life, and you are living your life.

Here’s the biggie: our lives intersect. Here’s the paradox: living a selfish life can fulfill other people’s needs. Here are some antidotal examples:

  • My writing daily gives you regular content on things we share an interest in exploring.
  • When I meditate daily, I’m less of an ass to you. I respond and don’t react.
  • Everyday exercise gives me the endurance to perform CPR on you until the paramedics arrive.

I improve, you improve. I succeed, you succeed. As long as I seek my true inner self, I’m finding the soul that longs to connect. Being true to myself means being less of a dick to you. You’re welcome. 

Habits stack. Habits identify. 

Back to James Clear. What his book spoke to me was about my identity. Yesterday I hinted at something driving my life’s process: the loss of ego. There are volumes of materials out there that sparked my interest, but Ram Dass is the one that ignited my bonfire: be here now and lose the ego. But then James came along. He wrote about associating with your habits. For me: I’m a writer; I’m a meditator. I built my systems around it, and that’s how I now identify. 

So, what about identity and ego? Well, I’m still alive. I think it comes down to a balance of not associating and being (keyword) ATTACHED. James talks about habit stacking. Or, in my words, it is okay to have multiple identifying habits. If I removed one of my identities, then who am I? Somewhere, and with practice, I can balance being the “nothing man” (great Pearl Jame song!) along with being a writer, a meditator, a friend, whomever. It is about the regular practice and regular shedding. I get up in the morning as a new person doing the same thing.

Stick around, friend. As I get better, I hope you do, too. We’ve got a life to live, and this world is ours to share.

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