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Physical Habits

In our discussion on habits, we’ve already looked at the power of good habits, habits of decency and propriety, mental habits, and moral habits. Today we’ll take a look at physical habits.

(By the way, if you missed any of the other discussions, click on its link above. And while you are there, be sure to check out the Comments posted to them. Lots of good questions and suggestions!)

Physical habits are those habits that focus on a child’s physical body, as opposed to mental or moral habits that focus mainly on mind and spirit. It is in this category that we find those habits that are so often natural priorities with moms, like eating healthful foods and brushing one’s teeth. Those habits are well and good, and are included in this list. But in addition to those habits, Charlotte drew her reader’s attention to other physical habits that would help a person achieve the goal for physical mastery.

You see, Charlotte’s goal for physical fitness and self-mastery was that the person might be useful and prepared for his or her calling when it comes. She gave examples of people who had performed some great service at a set point in time, whether as a political leader or as a rescue volunteer, and emphasized that the person was able to step into that role because he or she was ready when the time came. The person had faithfully developed good habits that were already in place when the opportunity to be of service arrived.

Such a goal helps us achieve good motives and balance in physical habits. We do not cultivate these habits in order for our children to beat others in a competition, but in order for them to be prepared to serve and help at a moment’s notice. The discipline of habits brings freedom.

In the Physical Habits category, Charlotte mentioned:

  • Alertness to Seize Opportunities (not just for being useful, but also seizing opportunities to learn new things)
  • Fortitude (bearing discomfort and hardship courageously)
  • Health (Charlotte insisted that health is not only a blessing, but a duty!)
  • Managing One’s Own Body (knowing where one’s body parts are in space so as to use them to the best advantage)
  • Music (“It would be hard to say how much that passes for inherited musical taste and ability is the result of the constant hearing and producing of musical sounds, the habit of music, that the child of musical people grows up with.”)
  • Outdoor Life (“Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.”)
  • Quick Perception of Senses (similar to observation, but including all five senses)
  • Self-Control in Emergencies (cultivated by calmness in “all the little casualties of the hour”)
  • Self-Discipline in Habits (“Habits are not fully formed so long as supervision is necessary.”)
  • Self-Restraint in Indulgences (in matters of food, time, activities, and rest)
  • Training the Ear and Voice (hearing a difficult word spoken once and being able to pronounce it correctly)

I’m curious, which of these habits did you grow up with and how has it helped you serve — whether in your role as a parent or some other calling as an adult? Or which habit do you wish you had cultivated that would have helped you in some area of service? Share your thoughts.

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One Response to “Physical Habits”

  1. Cheryl February 18, 2007 at 1:46 am #

    Thank you so much for this habit series and website! I am trying to learn everything I can about Charlotte Mason’s ideas so I can teach them to my three children. This habit series has been so convicting for me because I see the many areas in my life that I need to improve in order to be a good role model for my children. You are a blessing!!

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