“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.”
— Norman Vincent Peale
The police officer told me, “Graffiti draws more graffiti.”
What he meant was simply that the fresh graffiti I had reported yesterday morning looked like it was covering older graffiti which hadn’t yet been removed. If graffiti is left alone, it becomes a tempting target for other taggers. If removed quickly, it tends to go away, and stay away.
But perhaps without knowing it, the officer made a larger point about life.
What is repeated, repeats itself.
Graffiti attracts more graffiti. An internet video gets hits until it becomes viral. An obscure sale at a department store the day after Thanksgiving is repeated by other businesses until it becomes a nationwide obsession. A succesful Hollywood movie is remade into parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth.
It applies to our behavior as well.
If we’re active, activity is normal. If we’re generous, generosity becomes our mantra. If we’re compassionate, compassion is our reputation.
Conversely, if we’re lazy, laziness becomes our character. If we’re stingy, stinginess invades our persona. If we’re self-absorbed, ‘self’ absorbs our life.
We repeat what we know and what we’re good at. That’s how we will come to see ourselves and how people will come to see us.
But we’re not stuck. If we’re willing to accept and change aspects of our lives – help more people, give our time more wisely, be kinder, reach out to those who need help more often – and if we repeat those actions, even in times of challenge and adversity, they will become a part of us. And people will gradually notice.
Our repetition is our reputation.
Yesterday’s gift of time … reported some fresh, and rather repetitive, graffiti in our neighborhood.