The Habits We Don’t Know We Have
I remember doing all of my laundry the night before a pre-pandemic trip. Rather than hang my shower towel in the bathroom, I decided to fold it up and place it in my dresser. There was no point in having it hang there for over a week if I wasn’t around to be using it.
I wasn’t leaving my apartment until later that night, but because I was working from home at the time, there were a good amount of bathroom visits from the time I took my shower towel away and the time I rolled my suitcase to the subway.
Each time I washed my hands, I flicked the dripping water from my fingers and spun in a circle, ignoring the hand towel to my left and instead, drying my hands on my bigger shower towel.
The first time I did this, I smiled at my empty towel rack and then dried my hands on the hand towel. The second time I did this, I laughed at my forgetfulness. The third time I did this, I wondered what the moral of the story was.
I suppose every time I washed my hands for years I’d been using my other towel. I didn’t realize it, but that was my routine. Drying my hands, it turns out, was as mindless a task as brushing my teeth.
I spent that entire day spinning around looking for a towel that wasn’t there, only to reverse back to the hand towel and the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what other habits I had.
“Happiness is,” my daily commitment to gratitude and joy, is perhaps my most public facing habit. My non-negotiable promise of walking or running 10,000 steps every day is known to most people close to me. My inability to stop picking my lips when I’m anxious is a bad habit that I, personally, am ultra aware of.
But what about the habits that go unnoticed? And I’m not talking about which towel we use in the bathroom. I mean habits of reaction. Habits of judgment. Habits of fear. Can we work to undo the harmful ones? What about habits of second chances? Habits of kindness? Habits of seeking the good in others and in ourselves? Can we work to cultivate the loving ones?
What if it was my habit, my routine, my mindless reaction, to respond with love?
What habits are you cultivating today?