I meet a group of runners and race walkers once a week to work out together. One of the women in the group has the most interesting collection of t-shirts. One reason I look forward to my work out with this group is seeing what new shirt this woman has on each week.
A few weeks back she arrived wearing a black t-shirt with crisp white lettering. On the front it read:
And on the back:
If you are in the computer programming field you will recognize this as a quote by Grace Hopper.
You and I are creatures of habit.
The way we sit, stand, walk, eat, type, text is habitual. We become so accustomed to the ways in which we do things—we always stand with our weight into our right hip when we are waiting in line, we always text holding the phone in the right hand and with the right thumb—that it almost seems impossible that we can do the same things in a slightly different way.
This plays out in some very comical ways.
I passed a man the other day walking a black lab. He held the dog leash in his right hand. He held his cell phone with his left hand—up to his right ear! The whole thing looked very awkward. Now yes he might have been deaf in the left ear but I doubt it very much.
Like the man with the cellphone, a lot of times you may not be doing something in the most efficient and easy way—but you get away with it. You don’t experience any major discomfort or problems.
However, questioning how you are doing an activity becomes an especially important when things aren’t going well.
If performing a certain activity has started to cause you discomfort where it hadn’t before it’s time to ask two questions:
How am I doing this?
Can I do differently?
A student of mine was dealing with some overuse issues in her right shoulder. Talking on her cellphone came up. It really hurt her at the moment to talk on the phone for any length of time and she didn’t have an earpiece (which might have been another way to go).
I asked her to hold her cell phone in her left hand. I asked her to raise it up to her left ear.
She said she couldn’t talk on the phone that way.
I said sure you can.
I asked her if there was something wrong with the hearing in her left ear.
No, she said but she always held the phone up to her right ear. That’s’ just the way she always did it.
We had a good laugh.
It is very interesting how we will put up with a lot of discomfort before we are willing to start questioning how we are doing things.
Simply because you always do something a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the only way to do it. Sure it feels right and comfortable because it is your habit…and habit is familiar…but if it causing problems…
Because I am fascinated with movement and habits I am always noticing how I prefer to do things (my habit) and experimenting with doing differently.
When I get dressed at the gym lately I notice how I habitually tend to put one leg in my pants first and so I’ll do differently and put the other leg in first.
When I put my jacket on I habitually put my right arm in first and so I’ll do differently and put the left arm in first.
This type of exercise then spills over into other areas of my life and I notice more often when I am doing something inefficiently (out of habit) and can choose to do differently.