Monday, January 16, 2023

Daily Stoic: The Tyranny of Habits

 So in the majority of other things, we address circumstances not in accordance with the right assumptions, but mostly by following wretched habit. Since all that I've said is the case, the person in training must seek to rise above so as to stop seeking out pleasure and steering away from pain;; to stop clinging to living an abhorring death' and in the case of property and money, to stop valuing receiving over fighting.

Musonius Rufus

This meditation is in line with our ideas about a purposeful life. Habits that reinforce our plans and growth can be very very good. But once you allow your habits, not your goals, to dictate your life you release your control over the choices you must make. 

To me, this is interesting because it is apparently in conflict with the idea that we need to reinforce good habits and try to quit bad habits (smoking, drinking, sugar). But I think that what they are saying is that all habits should be reevaluated occasionally. Thinking of a man who is overweight and he starts to run. And then he runs more and more. At some point his original goal, to lose weight, is met. Now his running might turn into a habit that he is addicted to as much as a smoker is addicted to smoking. 

If he revisits this habit, he may change his habit of constant running to a maintenance level. Or he might change a goal to running in races that raise money for others. But the key is to reexamine habits occasionally.

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