UFM 27: What we repeatedly do

It’s amazing how quickly human beings can acclimate to their conditions. I’m thinking specifically of frugality and spending right now, but it applies to most things. Last week, when I went out to eat with friends four times, I found myself craving restaurant food, instead of the humble (but delicious) quinoa and tomato stew I had at home. The same is true of my frugal habits. When I bike to work, I want to keep biking to work.

Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do. If we repeatedly stop at Starbucks each morning for our coffee, we will spend a shit ton of money on coffee. We’ll also habituate to the act of getting coffee at Starbucks–the interaction with the barista, the smells and sounds of the cafe, the branding of the cup and walking into work with it. Skipping the daily Starbucks trip can seem like a loss unless you can build a different habit, and maybe more importantly, a different mindset to go in it’s place.

In this coffee example, you might buy nice coffee to make at home (it’s really easy to get nicer than Sbucks) and savor the act of making coffee in the quiet of your own kitchen. You might take a few minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet. Or you might pack it to work in a travel mug that brings back favorite memories. I bought a mug from my favorite coffee shop in college and I carry it with me to work almost every day. It’s a little dented because it’s survived falling off my bike, but I love that thing, and it makes it easier to build the habit of self-sufficiency.

It’s still hard. Right now, I’m struggling because I haven’t found a really good way to replace restaurants and bars with friends. We can eat at home sometimes, and that’s good, but all the time? It’s just not the way people my age do things. I know, peer pressure and excuses, but I haven’t come up with a better alternative yet. I need to figure out a way to make eating at home (or packing a picnic or going for a walk or whatever) as appealing as going out. I’m playing with it in my mind though, and that’s the first step.