Habits are powerful – they shape your life and reflect what you are

These are stalactites.  I photographed them on our trip to Mallorca last week. The quickest growing stalactites can grow just one tenth of a millimeter per year… So each cm is about 100 years

They are formed by a constant droplet of water at the tip of each pointed calcicle (a word I made for an icicle made of calcium). Each drop is rich in calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and adds on and on, creating this beautiful ceiling, or a magnificent pillar.It’s the littlest drops, constantly dripping for thousands of years…. that made these magnificent cave cathedrals.

Many many many many constant tiny drops. The things we are doing every day, or regularly, make the biggest difference. Habits are things we do regularly. Like the calcium carbonate is the stuff of stalactites, our habits are shaped by our culture, our upbringings, our circumstances. We get stuck in them. They’re hard to make, and hard to break. But boy- can they change us. Not just that, they can create magical things, or scary ones. So be careful what you make a habit.

Carefully choosing your habits is the key to creating a life you love.

What habits do you have?

It’s probably best to start by acknowledging the habits you have- the ones that are currently shaping your life…. The ones that you might not call habits, but that you do every day anyway- maybe even unconsciously. Realise that the patterns of our thoughts are already a kind of habit. How do you regularly think? About yourself, about others…. It annoyed me to realize that I have a habit of thinking negatively about myself, and the outcomes of my work, and that I often mistrust others…. But your thoughts become your actions, and actions become your habits…. It’s actually really hard to do- just realizing what it is that you do. It’s hard because it requires a kind of admission, and sometimes when you face it, it feels like shame. Shame is such a powerful emotion as well. Mostly because the automatic response is to distract from it- to look away. But I don’t want to focus on that part – haha see what I did there ? 

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu

How do we create habits that stick like the calcium on the calcicles?

Here are a two realisations I have come to understand about forming habits that stick:

  1. Connect the habit you want to form to an already recurring pattern. This could be brushing your teeth, or having a shower or making dinner. These are things that happen regularly anyway, so a habit that is connected to those will also happen regularly.
  2. Habits don’t have to be about discipline. If you remove all the other options, there’s no choice in the matter. If you want to make healthy eating a habit for example- just don’t have any unhealthy foods at home. People that are allergic to some foods have a habit of not- eating that food that creates the reaction. It becomes a necessity- make habits that are not about choice- tend to be the ones that stick the best. Discipline is a luxury for those that have a choice.

“It’s the small habits. How you spend your mornings. How you talk to yourself. What you read and what you watch. Who you share your energy with. Who has access to you. That will change your life.”

How does this have anything to do with reusable period pads?

Well- as mentioned above, one place to start examining the habits are in the places that already automatically happen regularly. You live in your body- So what you put on your body, and in your body is probably a habit.  Your period is a habit- so what do you put in or on your body every time you bleed? Does it work? How does it feel? Is it convenient? What are the consequences to you, what are the consequences to the environment? Are there even better options?

Honestly, whether there was another option for my bloody period wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. I just used disposable pads and tampons that’s what I was used to. That was my habit, and I just didn’t really thing about it.

Until one day, I tried period underwear. It was so nice not to wear a crunchy plasticky pad at night. It just worked. What a revelation. They felt way better than store-bought pads, and it washed fine with all my other underwear…. Now just to find a solution that’s just as comfortable as my usual underwear: that’s how I realized reusable pads were the way to go- they fit right into my usual pants (underwear). I’ll write a whole other article about the right technical fabric for the job. That’ll be linked here soon.

What habits do you want to have?

To each their own for this one, I suppose. We should think of habits roadmaps to where we want to get to, because habits are how you make the steps that will take you there. So it’s not so much about want you want your map to look like- but more about where you want to go. You can navigate towards your future with the habits, just like the cave cathedrals are made with with many years of teeny tiny droplets  (as the calcicles/stalactites have shown us). We don’t have thousands of years but we have many more days if we’re lucky, and every drop we take consistently is the one that shapes the way we are.

For me, basically, I just want to feel good more often. I want to breathe clean air, and be comfortable. I want to feel connected with others, and feel like I am making a difference. I feel good when I can make something useful, and I feel good when I’m outside in the forest. For me making things that make a positive impact on me and my environment was therefore a win-win-win- WIN?! You can read a bit more about it here . Just seems like it clicks anyway. But other habits can also help me to feel good more often- treating my body to healthy food and frequent exercise, getting enough rest…. I mean we’ve all heard it so many times, yet somehow it is so hard to integrate to the level of habit. I guess we just have to start small. Like a tiny droplet of water. Try drinking more water rather than sugary drinks. Try taking more stairs rather than elevators. Every tiny little drop makes a difference when it comes to habits.

It wasn’t long before I replaced the single-use disposable pads with period underwear, and then eventually my own handmade reusable pads (much more versatile since I could use my own undies). And although it started as a discovery for my own comfort and convenience (cotton just feels better than plastic or paper), it felt good to know I wasn’t throwing away so much garbage. I’ll make another the post on just how much we waste… and why it’s worth it to think about reducing waste in little ways. Reducing waste is just a matter of integration into the already automatic habits. I don’t have any more store bought pads- I just carry the little pouch and always have a clean pad in it, just incase. At home I keep a small stack next to my underwear in the underwear drawer. Easy to have as pantiliners as well, on days when it might come.

Anyway, don’t forget about habits. They make you what you are. If some habits bring shame- those are the ones that are worth confronting. If some habits make you feel good, those are the ones worth cultivating.

Here are a few more habit quotes that seemed wise and rung true as I was thinking about this post:

“Habit is stronger than reason”

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.”

“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow”

“First make your habits, then they’ll make you”

Habits are powerful. Choose them, let them work for you.

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