Anyone who witnessed my reading of Gretchen Rubin’s habit book, Better Than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits, knows that I have some trouble making, and keeping, habits I’d like to reinforce.
But that’s not what today’s blog is about. Instead, today is about relishing and delighting in some of my habits (which is precisely the point of that book, btw).
Yesterday, I went to the nail salon to get my toes did, as I do a few times a year. As the woman was finishing up, she asked what I thought of the color.
“I’ve gotten this color almost every time for the last year—I love it,” I laughed. “It’s just so nice to find something that works and stick with it.”
The 20something in the next chair side-eyed me with alarm and disgust.
I hear her. I understand that one of the treats of getting your nails done is the thrill of trying something new: feeling into yourself what mood you’re in, what aura you want to project, what mood you’d like to be in.
But, lady, I’m about to be 37. I’ve done my nails. I’ve “felt into myself” (don’t be creepy) for years, and I’m kinda done.
When I was in college, I brought with me a giant Sketchers shoebox brimful of nail polish bottles. Teal, Topaz, Magenta, Glitter. Girl, I’ve tasted the rainbow. Tried it on, taken it off, pasted it on again.
And now I’m old. Now I have other brain cells I’d like to use.
We each get decision exhaustion by the end of a day. A time when we’ve used up our store of “This or that?” and frankly, nail polish is not one of the things I’d like to use it up on anymore!
I want habit! I want usual! I want easy breezy beautiful, baby!
So, yes, I do love the sparkly, sexy red, like I dipped my toes in pulverized ruby slippers. I love the peek of red out of my sandals, sophistication with a dash of coy playfulness.
I love that I drink 2 cups of coffee each morning. That I eat 3 eggs, no matter what. I love that I wash my hair on prescribed days of the week and make my bed without thinking about it. My mornings are nearly perfect in their efficiency of decision-making, or absence of decision-making.
This frees up my brain to decide other things, to focus on the margins that aren’t habitual. These are the places of excitement now: Go to the theater. Dress up. Try a new book. Read a new piece of research.
What will I do in the places I’ve opened up for myself by not constantly making choices?
Further, I love the habits I’ve formed—the healthy ones, at least!—as they give me their own kind of thrill. You could say that it’s like a machine, how boring. Or like a well-oiled machine, how sleek and confident.
Acting out these non-decisions make me feel like I have a center of person, places I know I want to reinforce over and again. Places that form the ground of who I am.
“I am a person who X.” And as Pamela Druckerman writes about in her newest book, There Are No Grown-Ups, confidence in our person is what our 40s are all about.