That true – I am an addict as I am addicted to walking. Why do I call it addiction? Because if I don’t go for a walk I experience a feeling of not fulfilment, like something significant is missing in my day. I become impatient and even irritable. Of course it is not going that far as the withdrawal syndrome in drug addicts but it is similar psychological discomfort, just not that strong one.
It has developed gradually since January this year. Before that my feet were getting tired with pain, pins and needles pretty quickly. My limit was 20-25 minutes of slow walking before such discomforts started. I pushed myself to do it but had no pleasure in it at all.
Things changed, almost miraculously, after the successful treatment which some could have called ‘medieval’: using medicinal leeches to improve circulation in my legs. Suddenly I could walk easily and lightly, with no heaviness or pain. What a difference! I was looking forward to my daily walks, prolonging the time, and now I would not count it for a ‘walk’ if it takes less than an hour. I enjoy it more and more. Then it happened.
When on 13 April we got a strong warning about 100km per hour wind, rain and dropping temperature, I did not go for a walk. That was when I realised how addicted I become to my walks. The day was too long, too tedious, nothing pleased me anymore – not food, not music, not books, not even Internet. Next day, still cold and windy but not that bad as the previous one, I walked for a long time feeling joyful and happy.
The word ‘addiction’ as we use it, has a definite connotation of something bad and detrimental for a human being. But let’s change the word: from ‘addiction’ to ‘habit’ and we all have to admit we are creatures of habits. In other words, we are addicted to many things.
I used to have another, very common addiction – to cheese. I know so many people who really suffer if they don’t have a piece of cheese every day. I was the same. I used to love cheese, all kinds of it: soft Camembert and Brie, goat marinated feta, Italian pecorino, of course Parmesan, Emmental and many others.
Then one day, about a month ago I decided to go cold turkey and get off the cheese completely. Just like that. And the power of mind works wonders indeed. No more cheese on my plate, and I am perfectly all right without it.
I use those personal examples to show that we are able of both: to develop new habits and cut off the old ones. Maybe it makes sense to review our habits – and discard some of them. And also be watchful to developing new ones.
Many of our habits are good and brilliant. Say, I am very happy with my ‘walking’ addiction. With some useful habits we perform various tasks on ‘autopilot’. That allows us not to pay unnecessary attention to our everyday chores, like brushing our teeth, switching off lights, feeling a kettle with water, and similar. Acting on ‘autopilot’, gives us a chance to concentrate on other things, like thinking over something important for the day, making plans, etc. Just re-shuffle our habits and addictions from time to time, keep the good ones and remove the bad or outdated ones (sometimes a very difficult task!). That will make life better organised and easier to handle.