What’s the strongest force in our world? Tornadoes? Volcanoes? Tides?
It’s not visible, yet it digs its tentacles into our very flesh, thumbs its nose at efforts to dislodge it, hangs on till we either give up or win the battle of wills.
We’re talking about habit.
If you’ve ever gone through the torture of going without that cigarette, or tried to lose weight, you know about that force.
Habit affects our whole being, mental and muscular. Common sense and experience remind us of both the perils of losing and the benefits of winning, but neither can overpower the power of habit.
Experts advise us to play it like football. Although the final touchdown wins the game, it begins by gaining a few yards each play, so setting small, attainable goals buys us interim rewards.
It is possible, but painful, to go the cold-turkey route. After a lifetime of smoking, my husband once had to work inside the wet wing of a Boeing plane. Obviously, given those volatile fumes, he had no choice. He kicked that fiery habit, yes – but took up mouthing snuff instead. And once the job was over, he got hooked again.
But not all habits play in a major key; some are so minor they only nibble at our sensibilities, posing no peril to life and health. Like one I’m still working on.
For at least six weeks now, I’ve been enjoying my new lift chair. What a pleasure to hoist my heft upright with nary a grunt! Its control is simple – press “up” to rise from the throne, “down” to sit. Keep pressing “down,” and the footrest rises to elevate sedentary feet.
You’d think it wouldn’t need much of a brain to operate, wouldn’t you? Think again. After 20-some years in my old recliner, habit still drops my arm to reach the lever that isn’t there to lift my feet that now rise as the down cycle ends.
I fumble for the new chair’s control. Since down now means up and up means down, will my DNA ever relax? I’ll get there, but those 10-yard gains are still short of the end zone.