There’s Power in Daily Practice

The Power of Daily Practice by Eric Maisel

I love taking notes when I read. If I own the book, I underline key passages and make notes in the margins. If I am borrowing the book from the library, I take notes on a single sheet of paper that I also use as a bookmark. And if the book is a digital one on my phone, I highlight the text and copy it into my notes app. I have quite the collection of literary wisdom.

This book is about starting and maintaining a daily habit. As I read it, I realized that my running fits the definition of a daily habit. I don’t do it every day, but make sure to get out at least three times a week. I’m dedicated to it and feel bad if I don’t reach my goal.

I want to develop other daily habits, such as writing, practicing music, and doing more around the house. If you want to start something new in your life, maybe this book can help. Here are the notes I took while reading it. Perhaps they can inspire you as well.

Start with a Mantra

You wake up in the morning. Maybe you’re going to write, and maybe you’re not going to write. On one side of the ledger is your desire to write. On the other side are all of your bad feelings about your current book manuscript. Those bad feelings produce a heaviness that as likely as not will prevent you from writing. If, however, you have a simple daily practice in place that begins with a super-simple mantra, like “I write every day,” you’ve increased your chances of writing on that day, even as heavy as you feel.

Just Show Up 

Your daily practice is a primary way that you manifest your willingness to be disciplined at least for a portion of your life. By manifesting discipline here, by showing up every day at your practice and by making the effort to do this work, especially on those days when you would prefer not to, you build your muscles for disciplined action over-all. Being disciplined even just for the duration of your daily practice will lead to excellent disciplined action else-where in your life.

Make It a Habit

You arrive at your daily practice, not through mere habit, not through mere repetition, but instead because each time you announce, loudly and clearly enough that you hear your announcement, “This is important.” In fact, most people have trouble doing this thing which sounds so simple in principle: announcing that one thing is more important than another thing. It isn’t as a matter of importance that they spend hours in front of their television set or hours shopping online. Importance doesn’t enter into it. Their mantra is more “Let me pass the time” or “Let me satisfy a craving” than “Let me do the next right thing.” They have not organized their life around what they genuinely value.

What’s the Next Right Thing?

You pick your next right thing, not in a vacuum, but as an integral part of the way you are sequencing and negotiating your day. The next thing you choose may have primacy because it is serving the thing that follows it, which really has primacy. For instance, you might take a nice hot shower before you settle in to write your novel, support your cause, or upgrade your personality — just so long as that is indeed the right sequence and just so long as you actually get to your novel, your cause, or your upgrade. If that is the appropriate order, then that is the appropriate order.

Be an Activist

It is easy to know why to rebel. But it is not so easy to know how to rebel, given an individual’s basic lack of power in the face of the huge mechanisms of society. It’s not so easy to actually rebel, given how unsafe that can feel. And it’s not so easy to put the brakes on once you are rebelling, as the amount that needs to be accomplished can seem overwhelming. If, however, you know in your heart of hearts that activism is or ought to be one of your life purposes, you may want to inaugurate a daily activist practice that helps you live what may be one your most important life purpose choices.

Start Now

We all have good intentions but we can’t make any progress unless we actually act on them. So, figure out what you want to work into your life and figure out how to do it. Perhaps you want to read more, write, learn an instrument, or some other creative endeavor. Maisel even shows how you can use this strategy to recover from an addiction. Whatever you want to do, you can achieve it with daily practice. So, get out there and do it!

My List of 2020 Reads – my annual reading (b)log