“Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.”
– Gertrude Stein
Gretchen Rubin’s Moment of Happiness email, which I subscribe to, shared this quote last week.
It got me thinking: what do I do every day?
I wanted to disagree with Stein because so many daily activities are mundane. But I had to admit that something I do every day must be important, or I wouldn’t do it with such frequency.
Even if I might say that checking Facebook or email isn’t important, my habit of doing both daily would suggest otherwise. If it’s truly not that important, maybe I should stop doing it every day.
On the other hand, a functional life requires certain daily activities. Preparing and eating meals, taking the dog for a walk, and sleep are opportunities for small, daily joy if I see them that way. Too often I see them as small, daily burdens: things that must get done when I’d rather be doing something else.
Not only does repetition define the things you do every day as important, daily practice is the key to success at just about anything.
Becoming a better writer, pianist, runner, wife, parent, teacher, or friend depends on investing time over months and years, even when you see little improvement. We tend to overestimate what we can get done in a day or week, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year or five.
If something is important to you, it must become routine. You might notice little benefit a month or year in, but you will be blown away by what happens if you keep going long after most people would have quit.
The thought of doing anything on a daily basis beyond the necessities can be daunting. By the time we’ve worked, eaten, paid the bills, walked the dog, cleaned the dishes and folded laundry what time is there for reading, running, yoga or a phone call to a friend?
It may not be possible to integrate new habits daily, but what about weekly?
Just as I was contemplating the meaning of daily habits, both mundane and meaningful, I read this tweet from Vanderkam:
Some things will happen every day because they have to, or because the habit is so deeply rooted. Some things won’t.
I set myself up for failure if I try to make important things like exercise or connecting with friends or reading for growth happen every day. I can certainly do them weekly, though, or even on most days.
It’s a much more manageable expectation, and still frequent enough to move me in the right direction. Five years of a weekly habit still makes for results that didn’t seem possible in the first month or year.
Question: What thoughts do you have about daily and weekly habits?