You Are What You Repeatedly Do

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” —The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Change your habits, change your life.

I’ve proven this to myself in ways that have often surprised me. I quit smoking one day at a time, and before I knew it, I was a nonsmoker. I started to run. I don’t think I could even run a mile at first, but sure enough, before I knew it, I was a runner.

The most profound change, though, is that you become your habits. I will never not be a runner now. I didn’t run for almost two years, but the moment I started again, it felt so natural and right that I couldn’t imagine ever not loving running for the rest of my life.

Alexis asked that I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People along with him and practice each of the habits until we master them. This is one of the reasons I know I am with the right person. He wants to improve himself as much as I want to improve myself. And, I’d say we both do a pretty darn good job of inspiring and encouraging one another in that endeavor.

The book’s author, Stephen Covey, tells us to read as if we are going to teach someone later. You process and retain information better that way. So, dear readers, I am taking this opportunity to share with you my journey with this book.

The first habit is proactivity. I wondered what this could mean, and I was surprised to find it is a virtue I have recognized and strived for in my own life.

Essentially, the book says there are two types of people: Proactive and reactive. Reactive people—you guessed it—react. They let their emotions run their lives. Circumstances—things that happen to them, how people treat them, even the weather—affect and control them. Whereas proactive people choose how they react.

A proactive person recognizes and understands what is and is not within the limits of their control. Proactive people don’t give power to circumstances or people; they take power into their own hands.

This, of course, is easier said than done. I have been consciously choosing not to let my emotions sweep me away and react to situations beyond my control. Example: traffic. I can’t help that I have an hour drive home from work. Nothing I can do will change the traffic jam ahead of me. Better not to sit there and let my anger take over and enrage me until I am in a foul mood. Instead, I can calmly say, “This is beyond my control. The best thing I can do is to try to stay calm and happy.”

It’s hard, but I know if I practice each day… “Sow an action; reap a habit.”

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