Habit

March 10th 2015

Today I realised how habitual I am.

I was in the library, avoiding doing revision by going to the toilet as much as I could, and I realised something. Whenever I went to the toilet I’d always go to the middle stall. There’s three stalls/cubicles, the logical choice would be to go to the first one that’s open, which was always the one closest to the door, but for some reason I’d always skip that one and use the middle one.

And then I’d use the left hand sink, but the right hand hand-dryer. Every single time I went to the toilet, and I was drinking a lot of water and being really lazy so I must’ve gone about eight times, I did this same routine. And when on the fifth/sixth trip I noticed the routine of going to the middle stall/left sink/right dryer, I started to notice a lot more habits.

How my pens have to be in a straight line with the bit where the ink comes out (I reckon that’s got a proper name [I just looked it up it’s called the nib]) facing down the table. How my phone has to be perpendicular/parallel to objects on the table, not at an angle. How every time I pick a pen up I spin it over the top of my fingers before grasping it. How I tap my right middle finger to the ball of my right hand constantly without realising.

And then I started noticing other people’s habits. One friend, when he’s thinking hard about something he’ll put the [again I searched for the anatomy of a pen] clip of his pen lid to his mouth and chew on it whilst muttering to himself.

After the library we went to the gym and I noticed how another friend tapped his feet when lifting weights. On the decline of the lift he raises the toes of only his left foot off the ground, leaving his heel planted, and when he pushes the weights up he’ll tap the ground three or four times with his toes, and then repeat that process for the next rep.

I noticed how I habitually click the bones in my hands and jaw, and I wondered how often I do it without realising. It’s like blinking. Personally the only time I notice I blink is when I’m thinking about blinking, but I’d imagine that I do it a lot more frequently than that, else my eyes would start to hurt a bit.

I don’t have to tell myself to breathe, just like I don’t have to tell myself to blink, or click my bones, or tap my fingers, or spin my pens, I do all of these really habitual processes without thinking.

There are two doors to the Maths building and I’ll always use the left one. There are two sinks in our kitchen and I’ll always do my washing up in the right-hand one. It can’t be a case that I prefer left to right or vice versa because there doesn’t seem to be any trend, or logic behind it, but it is the same pretty much every time.

And then there’s the common things like TV volume, I’ve seen people say their TV volume number always has to be a multiple of 2 or 5 or 10. “Round Numbers”. For me, it’s prime numbers. 2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37 etc. Or what I call consequential numbers; 12, 23, 34, 45.

I literally have no idea why and I don’t even think about it until I think about it, if that makes any sense at all.

Until tomorrow, it’s amazing what you see when you pay attention.

Jacn

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