On Habit : Second Verse, Same as the First

Human beings are creatures of habit. We buy the same brands at the grocery store, and sit in the same seats everyday in class. We choose the familiar things willingly, despite the hundreds of cereal boxes and the lack of a seating chart. It wouldn't be the same if there was only one, or it was required to sit there. We want to be given options - and then we want to pick the same thing we always do.

This is also true for thoughts. The human mind is something with unlimited possibility; it thought up the theory of relativity and the shake weight, made Gone with the Wind and Dude, Where's My Car.

But I find myself thinking the same things all the time. My thought patterns are like driving patterns. I can take a different exit, make 3 lefts instead of one right - but I always end up in the same place. And often (I'm embaressed to admit this), it's negative.

But the thing is, habit is still a choice; for the easy, unthinking, auto-pilot.

I only come to those voices, those words that can't be taken back, because I let myself. I visit them, and every time I do it becomes more of a routine. My mind learns one more path to place I don't even want to go. The thought becomes fresh, rather than drifting away like whole days (good or bad) that are never thought of again.

I need to make better habits. When my mind wanders I want it to go to a good place. I want it to imagine my Elle Wood's moment when I finally get accepted to graduate school, or remember the small words of encouragement that I hear daily.

But, if I really want to be something different, write something new, than I can't keep falling back on habits, any habits. I need the avant-gaurde, the novel, the unique and new-fangled. None of those things can be found in the same old spaces, where the shiny eyes of self-doubt peer out from the darkness.

(photos) Heads glowing with inspiration at a gallery in Buenos Aires, on film. (p.s.) the broken record 'Say Something New' print, that now hangs over my desk - one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever been given


  1. love this post, Sam. rings so true to me. you have such a way with words!

  2. You are amazing Samantha. This post speaks volumes! I too wish I can break from the habitual thoughts that hinder or hold me back from making progress; or prevent me from being the person that I think I should be, or on the other hand, the person I want to be. (Here’s where the rambling starts) At the same time, there’s so much comfort within these patterns, because the results (whether they are good or bad) can be predicted and become expected. So many times I find myself taking the same course, be it through my thought process or driving directions or ordering the same food at the same restaurant, because of the fear of disappointment. It’s the fear of being let down, I find, that prevents me from breaking the routine. Most people think it’s the fear of the unknown, but that’s too general. It’s more than that. When you go see a movie (that you haven’t seen), you don’t experience fear because you don’t know how it ends. It’s usually quite the opposite (unless it’s a scary movie, which is a completely different topic); you want to know, your curiosity drives you to go. Same goes for the first time you go to an amusement park. I know that these things are associated with fun, but then why is it that we don’t look at everything else in our lives the same way? What is holding us to the routine, the habitual? In our lives our experiences define us, to some extent. But thinking logically could be part of the problem. Maybe, in order for us to break free from the norm, we think like a child. I’ll stop now…as you know I could go on for hours…but this probably isn’t the right forum.

  3. This is so, so true! It's funny, because when I read this post, I thought about "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert - when she goes to India and meditates, she says that she thought she would have lots more interesting thoughts, but what she realized was that she only thinks a few thoughts, but she thinks about them constantly. And I think that's totally the case with most people, if they were to sit down and analyze themselves! It's so easy to fall into routine, habit makes life easier. But it's so important continue to change and evolve and be different (what's that quote: "if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll always get what you've got"? something like that :) I think a big part of that is embracing yourself and really trusting yourself and your instincts...because each person IS different and unique. Thanks so much for this post today, Sam! I've been thinking alot about this recently, and it's helped, reading your words :)

  4. This is so true (and I just went on a Legally Blond binge this past weekend)! Reading in different genres, talking to people who lead very distinct lives from mine, and even simple things like taking a new route to and from class help tune down my auto pilot. Wonderful post. You are a beautiful writer, lady :)

  5. Such an inspirational post. "Habit is still a choice". Words to remember!

  6. P.S. You studied feminism and fashion?! I took a Feminist Philosophy course during my year off after college and absolutely loved the topic. F.I.T. did an exhibit on feminism and fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past summer. That sounds like something you might like.

  7. It's interesting how we want choices, and then always choose the same. But I've always found that perspective helps me to forge new paths. I can look at the same situations, the same things, but like changing how we focus a camera, just merely changing the way we look at our choices can take us new places.

  8. i absolutely and 100% relate to this. It can be so challenging to change habits, but we definitely have the power to do so and it's so important to still remember that and be empowered :). Thanks for this post lovely lady!

  9. Alessia Thank you! These last two posts I've written laying in bed at night. It's really helped me write more 'conversationally'! I appreciate your feedback

    Dave I agree so much with this. One of the lines I originally included for this post had the exact phrase you used "fear of disappointment"! I find myself choosing the familiar and comfortable option often for just that reason. I love the point you made about curiosity - that should be my impetus more often.

    Lillian there is a great quote from Albert Einstien which is why I alluded to the theory of relativity : "Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result". I love that line from Liz Gilbert - so true.

    Suamya Thanks for sharing the exhibition. I will have to research it - and I will probably end up cheering "yes! so right on!" at my computer.

    Joanne A camera is a great metaphor. Both thoughts and photographs are defined by what we focus on.


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