• Harirai Khalsa

It's too easy to be extremely good at something very stupid

I've been thinking a lot about practice.

We think of practice as improvement, but really it is the act of ingraining something through repetition. As the easier stuff becomes more and more automatic, we free up our attention to focus on increasingly difficult aspects of the task. That's how habitualization becomes improvement.

Usually we do this on purpose, like when you practice playing the piano, or speaking French, or shooting hoops, or balancing difficult to balance things on top of other things (hey, whatever floats your boat).

But really we're practicing anything that we do on a regular basis, whether we're thinking consciously about it or not.

If you always snooze after the alarm, you are practicing going back to sleep after being woken up. If you have a tendency to mask your emotions around strangers, you're going to get pretty good at masking your emotions. If you always put on your right pant leg before your left, it becomes difficult to do it any other way.

It's easy to feel trapped by these stupid routines sometimes. But we can also deploy them in our favor.

If you make a point of always trying to notice what you're enjoying most about the current moment, you will become an expert in finding silver linings. If you try to say one nice thing to every person you talk to, you're going to be a master-level compliment-disher in no time at all.

In this way, habits and practice are very intrinsically linked. The only difference is whether you're paying enough attention to get better.

I know I practice a lot of small habits in my life that I'd rather not make permanent. And if there are things I'd like to change about myself, I know I have to start with my habits. I have to look at my external habits, my internal habits, and see where I'm nudging myself toward somebody I want to be, and where I'm not.

After that, it's all just a matter of practice.

What do you want to start practicing?

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