Rob Knight

One less habit

February 23, 2010

My groomed fingernails

Some time in late September of last year, I stopped biting my fingernails. I don’t know the day, hour and minute at which I ceased a lifelong habit, but I can tell you I’m quite pleased with myself anyway.

I’ve been hesitant to mention it here, in large part because of the significance. I bit my fingernails for my entire life. I’m pretty sure I stopped sucking on my digits as a toddler and started to bite my nails off the next day. It was an activity as normal as breathing for as long as I can remember.

What’s puzzling to me about it is the unceremonious manner in which this habit ended. I simply stopped without thinking about it. Seven days later I had to find a nail file and shape my newly-grown orange peelers. (Luckily, I inherited an antique “Diamond Deb” nail file from my grandma. It’s actually coated in diamond dust, making it an amazing file.) My new habit is filing my nails once a week.

Maybe we don’t always need to face our bad habits head-on. Maybe it’s possible to do an end-run around them. Or maybe we should focus on our good habits and they’ll crowd out the bad ones? Maybe there is a lesson here related to identifying my goals. I don’t know for sure, but I’m quite happy to have shed this habit.