“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,—practical, emotional, and intellectual,—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”
—William James, “The Laws of Habit”1
Socrates, the ancient Greek scholar considered one of the founders of Western philosophy, believed reason was essential for the good life. He left behind no writings of his own, so his words were given to us through others, mostly through his most famous student, Plato, who quotes Socrates: “To know the good is to do the good.” In other words, once a person knows the right thing to do, the right action will follow.
Maybe Socrates's statement, as it was passed down to us, was missing some important context. Maybe he never said it at all—but if he did, we think he was utterly wrong. After working for many years with thousands of people who want to make changes they know will benefit them and their organizations, we join with the many philosophers, including Aristotle and Confucius, who reject this idea.
The people we've known are simply far more complicated than Socrates's ideal. Donal Skehan certainly knew that he should consume healthy foods as he traveled from one beautiful location to another and presented gorgeous, painstaking dishes to his viewers. And yet, he was making himself sick on gas station ...