Joshua Singler


Manifesting the Habitual.

I feel as human beings we often find comfort and assurance in familiar routines and patterns. The taste of your toothpaste, the sound your keys make when you pull them out of your pocket, traffic lights switching colours, the colour of the sky, sounds of birds chirping, the beeping of the bus, cars driving by, the sound of your feet hitting the cement, the smell of the snow melting, I could go on.

Personally, I find this idea of a familiar pattern to be a source of a lot of my unhappiness. I often fall into the comfortable grip of a routine and conduct my day-to-day life without a level of awareness to the control I've given up. When do these routines/patterns turn into or breed habit?

When our routines become dictated and controlled by habit, it’s easy to feel like you’re just another cog in the machine. It can feel like you’re operating within a set of framed parameters, often uninterrupted, which can lead to getting bored quickly, frustrated, upset, unmotivated, pessimistic and overall just not happy, or at least that’s been my experience.

So, then how do we break a habit? How do we conduct our lives with positive/rewarding patterns and routines? I think back to being a child, reclined in the dentist's chair and there's a poster on the ceiling with puns/jokes and the one that has stuck with me still to this day is:

What should you do if you want to break a bad habit? Drop it. –Hah.

My solution to this feeling of “habit overtaking routine”, has been to abandon. As a child I used to ask my Mom every couple of months if I could redecorate/repaint my bedroom. Although I grew up in the same house for 18 years of my life I think I probably moved around between 4 different rooms in the house. In the last five years alone I've lived in nine different places. Commitment issues? Nooo, I think it’s that I find myself getting bored of walking in the same door, going into the same bedroom, looking at the same things on the walls, and everything feeling predictable. I start to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

With all this being said, I don’t think that all that is habitual is negative. I think the entire concept of the habitual is something that can be quite powerful if it’s properly harnessed.

Apologies if this entire blog post was a mess of thoughts, these concepts are still quite fresh and I’ve been trying different ways of exploring them and a messy blog post was just another way of me experimenting.


Share a habit of yours with me, completely anonymously.

Questions I’m currently thinking about:

  • How does one change their habits? How can we consciously acknowledge the effect that our habits may have on the world around us and change them in the moment?

  • How can communication design mediate or intercept in moments of shifting/encouraging a shift in habit?

  • What happens when somebody challenges their habitual? (Whether it's blocking the left-hand side of an escalator as commuters are trying to run up it, or it's a woman marrying another woman) , consciously not participating––how do others respond?

  • What's the difference between an addiction and a habit? Is there one?

  • How can communication design mediate or intercept in these moments of resistance to the habitual/routine?

Joshua Singler