Sunday, September 20, 2009

21 days

I've recently been mulling over an idea, which for a short time was an actual other blog. But then I realized that I don't put enough time into this blog to have a second one, and besides, if people are already here, they might be interested in what I'm trying.

So the idea is that in twenty-one days you can make or break a habit. It stemmed from Dr. Maxwell Maltz's book, Psycho-Cybernetics. In it, he reports that the phantom limb sensations in amputee patients fade after 21 days, leading him to propose that it took the brain 21 days to develop a new pattern. I realized, then, that if I were to pick a twenty-one day chunk in each month, I could conceivably break or make a habit that's been one of my lifelong quirks. You know, those things that you find annoying or unappealing about yourself but have come to believe that they're so much ingrained in you that removing them would be like taking the seeds out of a strawberry. I mean, you could do it, right, but what would be the point?

I'm a week and a half into developing the habit of putting things away. Because I don't put things away. I'm that annoying person that uses the scissors and leaves them on the counter. Or I take off the sticker from an apple and leave it by the sink. Like it would take me THAT long to put the sticker in the trash. But I don't. And then that sticker or those scissors, they breed clutter babies all over the house. You mean that's not where clutter comes from? Oh, try it. Leave a couple things on a clean table and a week later it'll be chock full. Clutter babies.

It turns out this annoys B. Who knew? Ten years of marriage and he jumps at this idea because That does kind of annoy me. So in an effort to kick the clutter babies (and maybe make it another ten years), I've been putting things away. And you know what? It's not that bad. I've slipped a little in the last few days, but for the most part things have gone where they belong and it hasn't even taken me the billions of hours I assumed it would.

The funniest part? The house is so clean! B came home from work the other day and I pointed it out. "Wow, it is clean," he said. "What happened?" "Well, I'm not leaving crap all over the place," I told him. "Oh. That would do it."

So I'll be periodically updating this topic, and whatever habit gets tackled next. But I'm pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to pick up (I can hear the music now, the one that tells you someone is about to get their comeuppance, so I'll say easy so far). But hey, think of what you could make or break in just three weeks time. It's kind of exciting. Or daunting. Or just plain annoying. But if I was annoying before, well, then I guess that might be something I can't break.

1 comment:

Heather said...

This cracks me up, b/c I was just complaining about my husband's similar habit of not putting things away. :) It's funny how something simple to one person seems insurmountable to another.
If it makes you feel any better, I developed my habit in response to my terrible forgetfulness. If I don't have a place for everything, I couldn't locate my own head. I was forever losing keys, and still hesitate to take my purse into public places b/c I tend to lose it. Surprisingly, this annoys my husband. Tidiness is a survival skill :)