Friday, May 4, 2012
It's because habits turn us evil.
Recently I've been reading a book about habits. And, like every book of this nature, it consumes my thoughts. I love these boring sciencey books. It has been explaining the basics of how a habit forms. It starts with a cue that causes a routine and ends with a reward before causing you to repeat the process. The book has diagram after diagram to really illustrate their point. So of course I've been thinking about my own habits and what they'd look like as one of their diagrams. Let's look at how one of my habits start, shall we?
1: Cue. I am not great in the morning. Morning is the worst part of my life. Every night before I go to bed I think, "I'm going to set my alarm for 7:30. I can't get up any later than that if I want to get the things done." And in the morning, 7:30 rolls around. Then 8. Then 8:30 and I still can't get out of bed. No discipline. And so I am often running around crazy trying to get out of the house on time. But that doesn't ever happen. Not ever.
2: Routine. Because I am short on time, I cut corners and eat toaster strudels as I run around the house. I once left the toaster out on the counter because I forgot. And who really cares that much about a toaster on the counter, right?
3. Reward. I have one passive-aggressive/OCD roommate. She is never slow to remind us of this. If anything is on the counter, we are all rewarded with post-it notes that try to stab at our souls. I get a fair amount of joy out of these love notes. Or, and this is my favorite, the item out of place gets put some place else that will defy all logic and reason. A roll on the counter will be put in a frying pan. A stack of paper? With the shoes in the hall closet. It is a treasure hunt to make your head explode.
In the book, it explains how a habit will only become a habit if your brain begins to crave the reward before the cycle restarts with the cue. My brain has begun to crave the tension that hangs in the air and the twitching behind her eyes that happens soon after the notes emerge. So the habit moves forward. I started small, leaving just a pen or a fork on the counter at a time. Then moved on to larger things all the time knowing that the reward is too great to correct my bad habits. The completed diagram looks something like this:
I get such a rush from the moral degradation her notes bring that I fear the poor girl will never be safe. Does this mean my heart is cold and black? I think it does. Oh well.