“Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running… therefore, if you want to do something make a habit of it, if you don’t want to do that, don’t, but make a habit of something else instead. The same principle is at work in our state of mind. When you get angry, you’ve not only experienced that evil, but you’ve also reinforced a bad habit, adding fuel to the fire.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.18.1-5
There is an old saying, “Habits maketh the man,” which means that habits make us who we are. And this is reinforced in today’s quote from The Daily Stoic; in essence habits are reinforced by our actions, and they end up defining us as a person. Habits make us who we are.
You are what you do. If you make a habit of arguing online with random strangers, then you are that person. You’re ‘that guy’, whether you choose to admit it or not. If you regularly help people with their computer issues, then that’s what defines you — the helpful computer guy. If you chug a lot of beer each night, then you’re going to have a beer belly.
We aren’t bound to our habits. We can change them, challenge them. In fact, we should take a long hard look at them, and address those habits which don’t align with the person we want to be.
When we find something we don’t like, we should replace the bad habit with a good one. This is how we refine who we are, and how we daily practice and hone ourselves into the person we want to be. It’s not something that happens to us, it’s something that we consciously choose to do. Because we understand that habits make the person.