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Perspective: All the habits that rule our day

Lonny Cain

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.

Lonny Cain, a graduate of the journalism program at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, has been in the newspaper business for more than 45 years. He and his wife have three sons. They live in Ottawa, where he was managing editor of the local daily newspaper for 30 years, retiring in December 2014. He continues to be a columnist for The Times in Ottawa and is pursuing other writing projects.