Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

My experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits


Is It Better To Be Held to an Action By Habit, Than Not To Be Held at All?

April 11th, 2015

Episode 36 of 540 episodes

“The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.” –Flannery O’Connor, letter to T. R. Spivey, August 19, 1959, quoted in The Habits of Being I think of this quotation often when someone asks me (and it comes up surprisingly often), “You make a habit of kissing your husband every morning and every night – but if it’s a habit, doesn’t it become an empty, inauthentic gesture?” Yes, kissing my husband can become mechanical and merely habit. But it’s better to be kissing by habit than not kissing at all. Also, although we assume that actions follow feelings, in truth, feelings often follow actions, so we should act the way we want to feel. When I act in a tender, romantic way, I feel more tender and romantic. So the habit doesn’t make me feel less loving, but rather, more loving. How about you? Is there a habit that you keep in this ...

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