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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: All the habits that rule our day

Christmas coffee.jpg
Lonny Cain
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Life is habit forming.

I'm talking about that trail we make as we jog through our days that turn into years.

I'm thinking the new year might be a good time to glance back and study my footprints. And maybe it's time to break some habits.

My tracks don't vary much.

I start with a cup of coffee on the couch where I begin a mental list of things that should be done. What I'm really doing is putting off doing anything at all — which is easier when you're retired.

I am not saying coffee is a bad habit. But it is step one on the path I follow each day.

And that starting point is important, I think. The Japanese have a word for it. "Ikigai.” Roughly translated, that means "reason for living."

Or this question: "What reason do you have for getting up in the morning?"

Good question. I suspect the quickest answer involves that to-do list.

But ikigai suggests we look at the bigger picture. Look at your life.

Start by looking at your day. Yes, you should repair the hinge on that door or buy groceries. But ... do you plan anything that you know will make you smile? Do you even ask yourself, "What is it that I love about each day?"

Look behind ... are you making new tracks or are you following old ones?

I look forward to my coffee each day. But ... what if I broke that little habit? I'd be forced to do something else.

I'd face that big question: "Why did I get up this morning?"

The answer probably involves things you've gotta do. But ... what if it didn't?

I think I will ponder that question in the new year ... as I sip my coffee ... in my spot on the couch.

I’m Lonny Cain … and that’s my Perspective.