Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excellence is a Habit

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

Many times on this blog I've tried to impress on you, my readers, the idea that how we repeatedly think will lead to how we feel and how we act. You're probably sick of me saying that. However, when it comes to trying to become healthy in life, it's very true. This quote by Aristotle certainly points to that truth!

We become that which we repeatedly think and do. That can start to define us very quickly. When we are trying to make healthy decisions or change a behavior in life, it's crucial that we start a pattern of doing that healthy behavior, even if we don't really want to do it. Take trying to gain awareness of Cognitive Distortions, for example. It's a long process to learn the distortions, learn how they inch into your thought patterns, and then challenge and change them. However, to have "excellence" in this area, we must be patient in creating a habit. Habits take awhile to establish and if we give up because it isn't easy or comfortable, then we certainly will miss a point of excellence. 

Behavior change is hard work. It isn't easy. Getting to a healthy place in life takes a lot of active, intentional focus and work. It takes repeating and practicing a new behavior or thought pattern over and over and over again until it becomes more natural in our life. It involves perseverance and not giving up! Excellence certainly isn't easy, but it IS worth it! 

Now it's your turn:
Have you given up on some aspect of behavior change that you may want to re-visit? What is something in which would you like to be "excellent" in your life? What's the next step you can take to make it become a habit? 


  1. Living in Michigan, I succumb to seasonal depression every year, on top of my regular bouts of depression. Here in November, I find myself going downhill fast - why was I so excited about life back in August? I can't remember. This is exactly when I need to put that positive thinking to work. If I think about it for a few minutes, I can come up with about 100 good things about myself and about my life. But it's so easy to let the one or two negative thoughts have their way, and the world around me tends to be pessimistic as well. Thanks for the reminder that the habit of positive thinking is hard work and it doesn't just come naturally.

  2. What you dont seem to understand is, for those of us suffering its not a simply choice of negative or positive thoughts. If only it was that easy, slip past that point and its about not drowning, just keep your head above water.

  3. @Anonymous- I don't think that by sharing this quote it means I "don't seem to understand" - I'm simply sharing a quote. And I never mentioned that the only thing you need to do is positive thinking. I mentioned that as an example, but I think it's a jump to say that it's "simply a choice" in any and all situations. I acknowledge that it's hard work, and I acknowledge thinking as AN EXAMPLE of excellence, not as the ONLY option. I'm sorry if this quote offended you, and I certainly did not say, nor will I ever say, that the only thing we need to do in life is "think happy thoughts."

  4. @Anonymous- I would also like to thank you for reinforcing the idea that sometimes our number one goal is helping the individual to survive and, like you say, "keep your head above water". Of course for any counselor that is our number one priority.