New Habits After Sandy

Posted by davidjsinger - November 27, 2012 - Be Happy, Gratitude, Habits, Happiness, Mindfulness - 5 Comments

As Thanksgiving approached, my thoughts were on gratitude—how grateful I am for all the ways that I’m blessed. Mostly I thought about family and friends, but following Storm Sandy, I also thought about things as mundane as modern conveniences—things I realized I take for granted when I had to do without them after the storm.

It’s human nature to change your ways after something traumatic happens. It could be driving slower after a car accident (or after getting pulled over by the police, which is always an unsettling experience whether or not you get a ticket.) It’s also human nature, as time passes, to fall back into old habits.

The fact that the passage of time allows the impact of a traumatic events to fade is a good thing. It’s how people get past grief.

But, when it comes to good, new habits, how can we make them last, rather than fade?

I’ve reported that I was among the people for whom Storm Sandy amounted to an inconvenience—power loss at home and at work, but no one hurt and no property damage.

I hadn’t lost power for prolonged periods during past storms, so five days without power at home was a new experience for me. I didn’t like throwing out the food that went bad, but I did like the clean look of our fridge and looked forward to keeping it clean and uncluttered. I mean, do we really need four kinds of mustard?

After the power returned, I also found myself being more conscientious about turning off lights around my house. I was always pretty good about that, but now, for example, I turn the light off in my closet when I go into the bathroom to take a shower. I also used to turn on two different lights in our kitchen during breakfast—one near the fridge, sink, and dishes where I would prepare my meal (not that some combo of cereal, milk, fruit, yogurt, and nuts requires much prep), and the other on our counter where I sit to eat. Post-Sandy, after I prepare the food, I turn off the prep area light when I sit down to eat.

After the heat came back, I found the house to be ridiculously warm. I’ve reset all of the thermostats in the house to 60 degrees. When we are cold, we can wear layers, and/or turn up the heat.

The gas shortage got me thinking more about carpooling and other strategic use of my car. Rather than driving anywhere and everywhere without giving any thought to it, I’ve used public transportation more often, and I’ve continued to use my bike for errands when possible (something I was already doing and wrote a bit about here.)

I’ve been focusing on these changes for more than the 21 days it takes to form a habit. This way, this experience will have changed me for good rather than fade with so many other good intentioned new initiatives.

Has Storm Sandy, or some other event, changed your appreciation for the little things, or the big things, in life? Join the conversation with your comments here…

Best regards,

David