— John Gardner, interview, The Paris Review
I'm haunted by this line; I think about it all the time. It's even the epigraph to my new book on habit-formation, Before and After-- along with a quotation by William James (of course; you can't talk about habits without quoting William James).
It's a line with many, many meanings. In the context of habit-formation, I think about it whenever I ponder the Four Tendencies. Because, whether you're an Upholder like me, or a Rebel, or a Questioner or an Obliger, there's no evading it: every time you break the law you pay, and every time you obey the law you pay.
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The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.