Monday, August 23, 2010


I got to thinking about habits today - both good and bad. Throwing trash on the ground instead of in the bin; tossing out recyclables... Every day, people take the elevator to work, and then trudge to the gym, where they tire themselves on a stairclimber... Wouldn't it be so much easier to just improve our habits in the every day? Volkswagen came up with a contest they called the "Fun Theory" - gadgets and plans to make the "better" option more fun as a way of improving habits. I love the staircase vs. escalator video here.

My boyfriend lived with two other single males in a basement apartment - as you can imagine, it got a little messy from time to time. Try as they might, they just never cleaned the place as much as they should. They found the website Chore Wars, that doles out experience points for doing chores around the house, turning it into a role playing game of sorts. Not my cup of tea, but it worked for them.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I lived in a second story apartment, but when because the building was on a hill, when you went in the back door (closest to the skytrain), you would have to go up three flights of stairs to get there. I got in the habit of taking the stairs up every day, even though the elevator was quick and convenient, just to get that little bit of exercise at the end of the day.

After taking the stairs for several months, I hurt my knee - pretty bad actually; I still have trouble swimming several years later. The habit of taking the stairs was so deeply ingrained in me that I would be halfway up the first flight of stairs, hobbling along with my cane, before I realized that my knee was killing me and that I even had the option of taking the elevator (which I really should have done).

It occurred to me that these fun versions of every day items are only needed until a habit has been formed. Once people got used to it, the fun versions can be taken away, and the good habits will continue. What else can we do to improve our habits?

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