Power of Habits and Patterns

Fort Stevens, Oregon

Here’s another quote: “Never underestimate the power of habit.”

This one is from The Midnight Disease by Alice Weaver Flaherty, a neurologist who “explores the mysteries of literary creativity”. (It’s an excellent book…)

Dr. Flaherty talks about how much of what we do is ingrained: habits so deeply embedded that we don’t even realize that we could do things differently.


Moving from a 2400 square foot house with a 2000 square foot shop into two 600 square foot storage units and a 280 square foot motor home has definitely made Rich, Sophie, and I re-examine our habits and patterns.

While walking through our old house, Rich passed on the right side while I veered to his left. Sophie even knew the traffic patterns in the house and where she should stand to have the best chance of getting a cookie.

Now all those movement patterns are out the window, and we’re starting from scratch. It’s both interesting and annoying.

Annoying: All three of us head for the single door out of the motor home at the same time looking a bit like the Three Stooges trying to squeeze through the narrow door.

Interesting: We can make a choice about new patterns. We could have before, but habit made those patterns seem set in stone.

While traveling last fall we met a elderly couple from eastern Canada. They had been married over 40 years. Every morning Ed fixed breakfast in bed for Marie who stayed in bed for at least an hour after eating breakfast and did crossword puzzles. This pattern continued even while they were traveling cross country.

Ed talked about how they had had a cat for over a decade. The cat helped him fix Marie’s breakfast every morning by standing a foot behind him in the kitchen. During the decade Ed carefully swung his leg over the cat every time he moved. Years after the cat died the habit continued and Ed still carefully swung his leg. I still get the giggles remember how Ed showed us exactly how he swung his leg…

So as we form new habits and patterns, I’m going to experiment and stir things up just a bit. How about eating dessert BEFORE dinner?