Habit or Obsession?


I suspect you would agree that each of us does a number of things daily out of habit–without even thinking about them. I imagine we also do at least a few things quite intentionally. As if obsessed about it.

When does an obsession become a habit, though? Or vice versa?

I think back with some embarrassment to this obsession from my post-college years. I started scheduling practically everything I did in fifteen-minute increments. If something took longer  than I’d allotted an adequate number of fifteen-minute slots for, I got seriously bent out of shape.

In order to track my time properly, I had to start on one of the quarter hours. Oh, my! If I was five minutes past one of those times getting on the road for a trip, irritable wouldn’t adequately describe my state of mind.

That was definitely an obsession–one I’ve long since outgrown.

Let me share a few other things that I’ve done in the past or I’m currently doing.

  • I used to always take a hot dog for my lunch before I retired. I continued to do that years after retirement. Then I suddenly desired to have something different. For the last several years I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches. Not just on weekdays, but for Saturday lunch and Sunday supper.
  • When dressing, I sit on the bed to put my left sock on first and then my right one.
  • When my Harry’s razor blades are a few days later than expected in arriving–I use one a week and change them on Sunday–I’m apt to email Harry’s and ask why they can’t be more consistent in their shipments.
  • When riding with my wife I tend to keep my eye on the speedometer. Even though she’s never gotten a speeding ticket, she tends to push the limit. I don’t hesitate to let her know I doubt the police might not be as tolerant of the excess as she thinks. A speeding ticket is certainly not in the budget.
  • While visiting family out of town, I’m apt to pick up my guitar and play quietly while other people talk. If I hear something I want to comment on, I do. Otherwise, it’s just me and my guitar.
  • After I take clothes out of the dryer–yes, I do the laundry–I do three things: clean the filter, set the dial to optimum dry, and throw a clean dryer sheet inside the machine. I get mildly irritated if I have to one of those things the next time I use the dryer.
  • When I buy a carton of my favorite frozen yogurt flavor, I allow myself exactly half a cup per day, confident that amount of sugar won’t hurt. If I get really daring, I use a half-cup container, not a bowl.
  • I don’t like crispy bacon. I’m not going to be rude if served overdone bacon at someone’s home, but I’ve been known to ask for different bacon when eating breakfast out.
  • My mother always watered the grape juice down with water when I was a kid; that’s what I got used to. So when I started buying grape juice a year or two ago and found the taste of straight juice unappealing, I started watering it down slightly, too.
  • I always wear a nice leather man-bag when I go out. I have too much stuff to carry in my pockets: small notepad, pen, and pencil; hearing aid batteries; emery board and nail clippers (I have to have my fingernails just right for my guitar playing); a comb; two business card cases; a flash drive; and the coins referred to in another bullet point. Oh, and–of course–my cell phone. I feel absolutely naked if I forget my man-bag.
  • Ditto if I fail to have my cell phone with me when I go out, even though I rarely use it for anything.
  • I keep two one-dollar coins in my man-bag for emergencies. I don’t cheat and use them for anything else just because I don’t have any other money on me at the time. I wouldn’t even think of doing that.
  • At bedtime, I have to clean my hearing aids and put them away before I brush my teeth. The two things have nothing to do with one another, but I get mildly frustrated if I do them out of sequence.

What do you think? Maybe I’ve simply confirmed your suspicions that I’m at least a little weird, and that’s okay. I write quirky fiction, so I should have the right to be a little quirky, too.

Regardless of that, which of those things are habits and which are obsessions? Do you have any particular habits or obsessions you’d be willing to share in a comment?

Sometime I may ask my wife for a list of what she thinks I should’ve included in today’s list.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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6 thoughts on “Habit or Obsession?

  1. Oh my goodness, I do remember the hot dog every day. I have no room to talk as I prefer to have the same things every day, except for dinner/supper, depending on where you’re from. Inquiring minds want to see Kathleen’s list! I knew you were quirky all this time! 🙂 sam

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  2. Hi Roger, I would make my decision if these are habits or obsessive compulsive on how irritated you become. If you are unsure, ask your wife. She knows.

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  3. Wow, Roger. You are, or at least were, OCD. I would love to have your opinion on my WIP with an OCD character. I can’t remember everything you said, but . . . peanut butter sandwiches for dinner? Oh, the sock thing. You must have watched the old Archie Bunker episode where he couldn’t decide which sock to put on first. You are missing out on liking greasy undercooked bacon. Crispy is the best, and better for you. I, too, have night time and morning routines, but they are mostly for makeup. Hey, I’m a girl! This was a fun, sort of, post from you. Should I worry?

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    • No, Bonnie, you needn’t worry. Most of what I said, although accurate and true, was shared in fun. BTW, I don’t recall what I said about the peanut butter sandwich; what I meant was supper on Sunday after having a much tastier meal out at lunchtime. No need to worry about my bacon preference, either. Just because I prefer “not crispy” doesn’t mean I eat bacon often. I don’t, and I prefer turkey bacon, anyhow. I didn’t bother to tell the “rest of the story” about several things. Just because I put my left sock on first doesn’t mean I never do the right foot first if there’s a reason to. I suppose my old fifteen-minute schedule does sound OCD, but that was the only thing I was ever THAT picky about. As I grow older, I have more of a healthy so-what attitude about changes to my routine.

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