Wednesday musings, 10/7/15
A recent headline in the Washington Post read, “New study says 30 minutes of exercise a day is not enough. You should double or quadruple that.” The problem with headlines like these is they are daunting; it is hard to think about beginning an exercise routine. Starting something and not following through doesn’t feel good, and the popular press making you feel like whatever it is you are trying to do isn’t enough doesn’t help matters.
In the book, “The Road to Character,” David Brooks quotes a psychologist named William James from the late 1800s as saying, “When you are trying to live a decent life, you want to make your nervous system your ally and not your enemy. You want to engrave certain habits so deep that they will become natural and instinctual.” Ronald T. Kellogg writes in “The Psychology of Writing,” having a daily routine with writing built into it as well as a designated space to write cultivates an “environment that cues the desired behavior.”* If you want to begin any sort of habit, whether it’s an exercise routine, writing regularly, or preparing food at home, it is important to make it as easy for yourself as possible. Keeping the time consistent every day, keeping the place consistent, and allotting a certain amount of time to the activity takes the guess work out of things. It provides structure for a new habit to form, which makes it easier to stick with the desired behavior. It is not necessary to set aside hours of time; what is important is that it is part of your daily routine. In fact, it is often better to start with a small amount of time if it is something you are trying to implement at home, and allow it to gradually grow. (This, of course, is why exercising outside of home often works better for people. It seems not everyone wants to forego a dining room table for designated exercise space). Don’t worry about how much you do, just make sure you do.
*This comes from an essay, which can be found here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/25/the-psychology-of-writing-daily-routine/
**In unrelated news, Ryan Adams version of Taylor Swift’s album of “1989” is surprisingly good (this is coming from a non- Taylor Swift fan).