Saturday, September 28, 2013

Define Yourself By Your Habits

There is a famous quote by Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I like this idea for many reasons. The first is that it applies to any quality, not just excellence. Malevolence is as much a habit as benevolence. This allows us to realize that we should not be so quick to judge people and to permanently cast them into a certain lot. Everybody makes mistakes or has bad judgment. But the way we think of somebody should be based on what they do consistently. A kind person who has a moment of selfishness is still kind. A jerk who bought you lunch one time is still a jerk.

But its best lesson is at face value. We should strive to do good things regularly, not rest on our laurels. As writers, we should be proud of our portfolios, but we should continue to add to them. If you are what you consistently do, than you are a writer only if you consistently write. And that leads to what I love the most about this quote.

My favorite quote from college was a professor saying, “You’re only a writer on days you write.” It dawned on me today that he was (inadvertently?) channeling Aristotle as he made that claim.

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