Breaking Old Habits


This post stems from the ongoing argument that my boyfriend and I have about modern advancements. My position is that although we have continually advanced as a society it is no greater than the industrial revolution, Italian Renaissance, the iron age, etc. His position is that recent advancements have been moving faster and faster in the last ten years. It’s not that we don’t agree, however, we do have philosophical differences. I love being wireless and paperless while he is concerned about our dependency on technology.

One point that we both agree on is, since we are becoming so technologically advanced, we find that most people are doing old things in new ways. For instance, the New York Times has to devote as much attention to their website as their print newspapers. So a good question to ask is… how do you break old habits to think in new ways?

Thomas Merton, a famous Catholic monk, was a true advocate of spiritual dialogue and contemplation. He states, “Discovering the contemplative life is a new self-discovery. One might say it is the flowering of a deeper identity on an entirely different plane from a mere psychological discovery, a paradoxical new identity that is found only in loss of self. To find one’s self by losing one’s self: that is part of ‘contemplation.’ Remember the Gospel, ‘He who would save his life must lose it’? (Matthew 16:25) – From Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

What!!… I must deny myself to learn about myself. What sense does that make?

This sounds like some Karate Kid or Yoda philosophy. It sounds so simple that it is impossible. Yet, this is how I feel when entering a new class or work project. There were no rules or boundaries just guidance to use every part of my resources in order to express your learning. To ask questions such as… is doing old things in new ways a form of learning?

So when starting a new project, I would look at what I bring from my past to start the process. Then remembering Merton’s words, I should stop looking inwards and look outwards for inspiration. That’s when old hand-me-down clothes can look new if I add accessories or change the hem. I can use new ingredients in old food recipes. I can change the look of a room by moving the old furniture to a new area. I can use my standard basketball lay-up but give it some flare. I can take skills that I have acquired and use them in a different way to find a more specialized job in the ever-evolving workplace.

It’s all about continuing to learn about yourself in new ways. If you never let go of the past, how can you work in the present to move into the future? Therefore, doing old things in new ways is learning in an ever-changing world. No matter how the world advances, you can teach an old dog to use old tricks in a new way.

P.S. I have noticed a trend when doing old things in new ways… I must forget what I have learned to further learn.


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