What habits I have

I never walk around my house with my pants unbuttoned. 

I don’t do this because someone I grew up around, and despised, did this all the time. He’d walk around with his pants unbuttoned and no shirt on.

There is nothing specific about this attire that I can pinpoint as a pet peeve. However, the whole thing just seems disgusting to me.

I apologize if this offends anyone. It’s not directed at you, person with your pants unbuttoned. It’s just something branded in my memory bank.

He’d also slap a pack of Marlboro Reds agains his hand several times. Then untwist the plastic and open the pack.

With a flick of is wrist he’d pop the filter of a cigarette out of the top of the box and grab it with his teeth.

He did this religiously and meticulously. With a strike of the flint in a lighter smoke would billow from the fire of the burning paper. Then he’d take a draw and pop his jaw. Out would come a smoke ring.

It was a masterful display of such an ugly activity. And I hated it every time he did it.

But it was a habit he had. Not just the smoking. But the ritual of it all.

I’ve often caught myself chewing on pens. The clip that attaches to your shirt. The clicker pieces that pushes the ball point out the end of the pen. The middle of the pen when I really in deep thought.

The pen doesn’t matter. It could be in a bank. It could be my son’s or a friends. I know—it’s gross. I get that all the time. But I can’t help it.

I do this because I was a stressed out child. It’s a nervous habit that has turned into an all the time habit.

Do your habits define you?

Habits define the legacy of the man I mentioned before. When I think about him I think about the bad habits he had. Manipulating people. Yelling randomly. Lying. Apologizing incessantly—but without emotion. I think of his habits.

I think of the habits I don’t want to have because of him. In a way—he was an inspiration. An inspiration of the kind of man I would do everything in my power to avoid.

When I became a stepfather I thought of him. Almost every day. And still quite frequently. I thought of how I wanted to treat my stepson, who eventually became my adopted son, MY son.

I thought about what the opposite of a role model looked like—and I thought of him. It was actually a pretty good model.

Another habit I have is that I tell my son I love him at least 10 times per day. The exchange usually goes like this:

Me: “Corbin, you know what?”

Corbin: “What?”

Me: “I love you.”

Corbin: “I love you too.”

The habits I have are related to one another. They are all intertwined like Christmas tree lights from the year before. All leading to a light that needs replacing.

When you read a self-help book that talks about habits. Most of them will talk about getting rid of the bad habits. I think there’s some value in that approach.

But I also think there’s a different way to look at it.

If you try and quit a bunch of things there you’ll end up with a lot of white space. Which will eventually be filled with the same habits you were trying to quit. It’s like riding a ferris wheel.

But if you take one good habit at a time and focus on creating and refining that habit. Then you don’t leave white space. You just pull the old switcharoo.

You have habits because of experiences you’ve had. People you’ve known, admired or otherwise.

And just like understanding your experience, if you understand why you have a habit or don’t, then you have something to go on.