On changing

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1. Drive out bad habits with good habits

“Since habit is such a powerful influence, and we’re used to pursuing our impulses to gain and avoid outside our own choice, we should set a contrary habit against that, and where appearances are really slippery, use the counterforce of our training. —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.12.6

The same goes for us. When a bad habit reveals itself, counteract it with a commitment to a contrary virtue. For instance, let’s say you find yourself procrastinating today—don’t dig in and fight it. Get up and take a walk to clear your head and reset instead. If you find yourself saying something negative or nasty, don’t kick yourself. Add something positive and nice to qualify the remark.

Oppose established habits, and use the counterforce of training to get traction and make progress. If you find yourself cutting corners during a workout or on a project, say to yourself: “OK, now I am going to go even further or do even better.”

Good habits have the power to drive out bad habits. And habits are easy to pick up—as we all know.

Daily stoic

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