A vine cannot behave olively, nor an olive tree vinely—it is impossible, inconceivable. No more can a human being wholly efface his native disposition. –Epictetus
This is what has struck me most in my study of habits. We can’t change our fundamental nature.
An Owl shouldn’t bother trying to form the habit of getting up early to exercise. A Moderator shouldn’t bother trying to form the habit of giving up sugar. A Sprinter shouldn’t both trying to form the habit of doing a little work each day, well before a deadline.
An olive tree can’t act like a vine, and an Obliger won’t form habits the way that an Upholder will.
When we know ourselves, and figure out how to shape our habits to suit our native disposition–that’s when we succeed.
How about you? Have you ever found it much easier to form a habit when you changed your approach to be better suited to your nature? Your love (or dislike) of competition? Your love (or dislike) of spare decoration? Your love (or dislike) of bold changes?
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Santi.