The Habit Trip: A Fill-in-the-Blank Journey to a Life on Purpose is an actionable antidote for stress and frustration, nestled inside of a Dr. Seussean storybook in which you, the reader, are the hero and the one and only expert—with a gaggle of mythical creatures to keep you company along the way.
After Physical Disobedience, I wanted to write a picture book for kids, building on what I know about the science of behavior change, but as we pitched it, I got several responses saying it was "too smart" for the age group, that young kids don't know how to listen to their bodies. The rejection was frustrating because it echoed a fundamental misunderstanding about where growth and change spring from—for all of us. Kids don't stop picking their noses because you tell them to. They do it because they get nosebleeds, or get sick, or figure out a more comfortable, efficient way to clear their heads. Kids deserve more credit than we give them to perceive what they need and find ways to meet those needs—especially if we give them crucial tools to listen and respond.
That got me thinking about how this is true for adults as well: We deserve more credit than we give ourselves. We know in the pit of our stomachs and the back of our necks which choices feel right or wrong, but we lose touch with those instincts over time. There is such a thing as truth, and when we honor it, we find our center of gravity. With that, we can see where we are, where we want to be, and which steps feel best to get us closer to those goals. As I mention on my website:
I don't think I'm going out on a limb to suggest that most of us have thoroughly investigated plenty of strict, punitive ways to change (we've exhausted the overly-enthusiastic, perky ones too), and much of that didn't work out too well. So I figured we could use a little playtime to dance around the edges of who we are and who we want to be going forward. The Habit Trip is a sun-bleached roadmap through ten areas of life to help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and what you want to do about the areas that aren’t.
It's coming out December 1st, just in time for winter as we bid 2020 goodbye. I'll be sending out pre-order info in the coming months, but if you can't wait, you can find some links to order here. (The cover might not be populated everywhere, but the links are live.)
In the end, we’re headed home—to our bodies, our instincts, our intelligence, and our collective pursuit of something worthwhile. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to get my bearings.
I'm thinking a lot about daily routines, the ones that nurture and the ones that deplete me. We don't have control over a lot of things, but we do have the power to bend and shape our days, minute-by-minute, in tribute to our bodies and best instincts—or in defiance of them.
Now that we've been in quarantine for a few months, what routines or assumptions about yourself are different than they were before? What differences seem like they might stick, for better or worse, and how are those changes shaping your days?
The Habit Trip is about listening and responding. It's about affording ourselves and others kindness and respect—one sneaky, purposeful micro-dose at a time. Radical, that. I'm so grateful to Running Press for taking this leap with me, and I can't wait to tell you more!
A few people have asked me how this new book dovetails with the social justice work I wrote about in Physical Disobedience. I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about the legacy of John Lewis. Specifically, I'm thinking about courage and nonviolence.
Lewis was the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963. "My friends," he said, "let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution." His life was a testament to the courage that comes with conviction. He knew what was right and true, and he believed "in nonviolence as a way of life.”
In Physical Disobedience, I wrote, "When we fight with nonviolence, we claim the moral high ground... Vulnerability can be the truest form of courage, the ultimate weapon to reveal callous, selfish behavior for what it is. But fragility and nonviolence are not just tools for political progress. They are potent tools for personal progress as well. We do violence to ourselves by denying the needs of our bodies, and we devalue the benefits of being well when we ignore the brittle nature of our own health."
On my last book tour, I discovered—by talking with many of you—that there is a step missing between knowing what matters and knowing how to fix it. That step is rooted in the base of our spines, in the tingle that lets us know we're onto something true—or we're way off course. Knowing what is right and true, gives us the courage to act and the energy to carry on.
John Lewis taught, “You cannot be afraid to speak up and speak out for what you believe. You have to have courage, raw courage.” The only way to have that courage is to have conviction, and the only way to have conviction is to honor the truth at the base of your spine. The Habit Trip is a roadmap to find out what's true and how to support that truth.
The smirk on John's face in this beautiful mug shot on May 24,1961 tells me everything I need to know about courage, conviction, and the power of nonviolence—both political and personal. We'll get through this. We just need a little inspiration from folks like John and a practice of following the truth to keep us going.
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