New Habits


Happy New Year! This month brings all kinds of self-reflection, or at least consideration of self-reflection. What would that be called? Meta-reflection? We banter about resolutions, self-improvement, goals and dreams, and then tend to go about with our daily lives because change is hard and disappointment with self is daunting. Jan 1 is a clean slate and by Feb 1 that slate is all scratched up again.

The ancient philosophers understood this and so they taught that the good life, a life full of happiness and satisfaction comes with time and habit. Are habits such as eating more salads, balancing our budgets, and getting on the elliptical more frequently the end goals? No, those are goals that reflect the higher value of a flourishing life. Here are the habits Aristotle encouraged:

  • courage
  • temperance
  • self-discipline
  • moderation
  • modesty
  • humility
  • generosity
  • friendliness
  • truthfulness
  • honesty
  • justice.

Wait a minute. Those don’t sound like habits. They are virtues or character traits. How am I supposed to check modesty or humility off my list of things to do today? For Aristotle, virtue is excellence at being human, a skill that helps a person thrive, form meaningful relationships, and find happiness. Learning virtue is difficult at first but becomes easier with practice over time until it becomes a habit.

So, this year I am going to keep this list around and see if I can become more habitual about the things that really matter. It is a daunting list but New Year’s is about stretching and reaching for more.

So grateful for you this year!

GO with love.

We are then what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  -Aristotle

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