“Habit is a rope. We weave a thread every day, and eventually we can’t break it.” — Thomas Mann
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
This business of repeatedly doing is leading somewhere, with our destination highly dependent on what we repeatedly do. Such is the way. Mann’s observation rings true as well, for habits become nearly impossible to break once established. Each small choice is another thread—another resounding, audacious statement about who we want to be.
Our natural inclination is to be a part of something. To build an identity around community or family. This can reinforce positive behavior, or amplify the worst in us. The choice isn’t always ours to decide which pond to swim in, but we may choose whether to keep treading above the surface or drift down into the muck on the bottom.
When our identity is wrapped up in a community that is slowly drifting away, as people get older or recede from view towards other communities, we also choose how to react to that. People come and go. Our health and work and feelings about the world we live in change moment-to-moment. To be highly effective in life we ought to weave a thread of consistent activity that remains independent of the whims of fate. When the world unravels around us, and eventually it will feel that way for all of us, just how resilient are we?
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”— Viktor Frankl
Life is constantly testing our mettle. We control so very little in the big scheme of things. Frankl’s famous observation reminds us that we do get to choose how we react. We have a say in what we might become in our brief dance with the universe in all its harsh indifference. We still might decide what to be and go be it.