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Our Lives Are Formed By Our Habits

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

"Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit." - Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics)

If you were to write down on a piece of paper what you think happiness is, what would you write? Some may write something like, "To acquire wealth," while another might say, "To have a fit body," while another may say, "To feel fulfilled in my work." Every person has their own reasons and own motivations for what, to them, is happiness and fulfillment.

This post isn't an analysis on why people have certain motivations to achieve certain things. It is more about how to achieve those things.

Let's say a person's perception of happiness is being healthy and fit. From real-life observations, experiences, and even science, we learn that if we eat right and exercise, we will be healthy and fit. So, based in simple logic, we could say:

"If I eat right and exercise, then I will be healthy and fit."

If A is true (eating right) and B is true (exercising) then C is true (being healthy and fit). This concept is valid as well as logical.

If you are a human being (which if you are reading this, I assume you are), then you have the potential of being physically healthy and fit. (I am not going to get into it deep here, i.e.: the need to be able to move etc.)

This is what Aristotle meant by "...we are adapted by nature to receive them..." that is, we have the potential to acquire virtues (bravery, patience, self-control, etc.) But it is habit that gets us there (actuality).

Some people know that eating right and exercising will lead them to become healthy and fit. But they form habits of binge eating, eating fattening foods, and not moving around. So, in essence, their own logic looks more like this:

"If I eat terrible foods and sit on the couch rather than exercising, then I will be healthy and fit."

If A is true (they are, in fact, eating terrible foods), and B is true (they do, in fact, sit on the couch), then C is true (being healthy and fit).

We can see from real-life observations and experience that this conclusion is invalid. And not only invalid but illogical.

At first glance, this may seem like an obvious thing. But when it comes to our own vices and shortcomings, we are less likely to see our own illogical thought patterns.

If I want to be more social and gain self-confidence, shying away from talking to others or avoiding putting myself in uncomfortable situations at all costs will not bring me closer to my goal (being more social and gaining self-confidence.) I must begin to form habits around that which I seek. (And small spoiler here, the things that are usually worth it, are REALLY hard to do!)

If I want A but all of my habits are formed around B, I cannot expect to receive A.

Begin forming habits around that which you want to receive. This is how we create the life we want to live.

Anna Hargett

AH Realtime Captions, LLC

Owner and Creator of Mindful Audio Focus

Woman Entrepreneur

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