Fuelling The Habit Bonfire

Today’s Daily Stoic Meditation outlines a simple truth: habits compound.

Like adding fuel to a fire, both good habits and bad habits can stack up upon eachother and become stronger. It is your responsibility to ensure that the good habits compound, and that the bad habits are removed.

Ensure that you fuel the correct habit bonfire

Photo: Leonard von Bibra

“Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running . . . therefore, if you want to do something make a habit of it, if you don’t want to do that, don’t, but make a habit of something else instead. The same principle is at work in our state of mind. When you get angry, you’ve not only experienced that evil, but you’ve also reinforced a bad habit, adding fuel to the fire.”

— EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.18.1–5

Habits

What Are Habits?

To begin, habits are, as James Clear would say, habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

In other words, habits are just daily activities that you perform almost effortlessly.

They are small activities that are natural to you, they do not involve much friction, and you perform them without strenuous thought. Of course, they do not start out frictionless, you usually have to spend a lot of time grappling with a habit, trying to make it stick.

Habits can be both good and bad, and it is important that you make a clear distinction, so that you can work on curbing your bad habits and strengthening your good habits.

It’s important to note that, when you have developed a strong habit, it can be very hard to unlearn. Many habits stick with us for a long time!

Make A Habit Of It (Or Don’t)

Epictetus outlines two key things in regards to action

  1. If you want to do something, make it into a habit.
  2. If you don’t want to do something, do not make it into a habit.

Do

Habits are extremely pivotal when it comes to productivity, action and success.

If you make something into a strong habit, performing that action will get easier and easier until it becomes second nature. There’s great power in habits.

You can harness this power when it comes to something you want to implement more of.

Epictetus outlines that, if you want to do more of something, make it into a habit.

Form a habit (by doing the action consistently and efficiently over a long period of time) out of whatever action you want, and you’ll be set.

Don’t

On the other hand, if you want to avoid something at all cost, don’t make a habit of it.

If you make the practice into a habit, you run the risk of it compounding, and that bad thing could get stronger and stronger.

Each time you perform a habit, it becomes easier, and this is fatal when it comes to the things you don’t want to do.

Take checking your phone in the morning as an example.

If you’ve checked your phone every morning all your life, it’ll be a pretty strong habit.

The only way to curb this habit, or not form it at all, is to stop checking your phone in the morning. Over time, the chains will loosen, and the habit will not be so strong.

The more you do something, the more it sticks.

If you don’t want to do something, don’t make a habit of it.

Fuelling The Habit Bonfire

When it comes to the habit fire, it works in the same way as a usual fire.

You add more logs or wood, and it burns for longer.

You do more of the action, and it becomes a stronger habit.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fuelling the correct habit fire.

Avoid the actions you don’t want to compound at all costs.

With the actions that you do want to do more often, make a habit out of it and the fire will keep blazing.

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Sam M

Sam M

happiness in all areas of life. student 👨🏻‍🎓. 2 weekly newsletters, daily stoic meditations + occasional articles and book summaries.