I find that remembering how to live with balance takes constant stopping, thinking and monitoring until the balance becomes automatic. At L’Abri, students are often helped significantly just by the routine alone. So often they comment on how helpful the routine is and yet I often forget its lessons for myself. It often seems too daunting to get up and go swimming, even though I love it and know how great it will make me feel. It feels as though shifting the direction from what I am doing now, to doing something different takes the most energy. Really, how hard is it to get up and turn off the TV? How hard to get changed into swimming clothes and go out? How hard to go upstairs and clean my office? Once momentum is gained, how hard is it to stop? How hard it is to be quiet when we are used to noise? How hard to call someone Ihaven’t spoken to for a while?“I’ve been meaning to call for ages.” How hard is it to talk to God, to hear from him when we are busy?
This is the beauty of routine.Routine helps us move from one thing to the next without too much effort. Actions become habits and eventually the act of doing things becomes automatic without much energy of though or decision making. Decisions alone take a lot of energy and habits free us from that.But of course we can have both good and bad habits, we can have the habit of not going to bed when we should, of not turning off the TV, of eating poorly etc. (http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374275637 this book explains the diffence between thoughtfulness taking real effort and energy versus automatic thoughts that are much easier but not always accurate.)
Developing good habits is something that I find difficult to do. Too often it feels like a rule or constraint, as though my freedom is curtailed, and this is the challenge I am still learning.The lesson of good habits that are freeing, and not a form legalism which is constraining. Habits can give us energy, healthy lifestyles and emotional health to free us up, while on the other hand rules that we can’t break are fed by fear and thoughtlessness and addictions.
So now after writing these musings, I have a choice, am I going to make a habit of writing, a rule of writing or forget about it?We will see.