In On Habit, Alain de Botton writes about how people become habituated and believe there is nothing left to see or learn about the certain location they are in. In this essay, Botton discovers an attitude to approach places we think we already know, and no longer find interest in. This mindset is intended for the environment you are in, but can also be apply to styles of reading and writing. Botton had arrived to London from a trip to Barbados only to realize his home city hadn’t changed one bit. He stated that he came back to London, “To find that the city had stubbornly refused to change” (Botton 47).
After reading some of Xavier de Maistre’s work, Botton realized he had to approach his neighborhood with a different mindset to appreciate it and discover new things. He took a walk around his neighborhood with a travelling mindset, as if everything around him was something new. Botton discovered new things and learn to appreciate the buildings and site that were already there. When we get use to one place we become habituated, and think there is really nothing special about it. “It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place which we have lived in for a decade or more.
We become habituated and therefore we become blind” (Botton 50). The reason people go on vacations is to get away from where they normally live because that place isn’t amusing anymore. Botton is saying that if we look at our current location as somewhere new, we will find things we never really noticed. This travelling mindset can be applied to reading and writing. It is beneficial to use a “travelling” mindset when reading. When we read we tend to sometimes skip over things or not understand what we read. If we re-read things and read closely, we will understand the text better.
We could pick up on things we missed in the beginning. This process is called Close Reading. Close reading is paying close attention to the words and finding a deeper meaning which might not stand out at first. Also there are many books and stories that are wrote that send the same message. If we keep reading the same themed stories it becomes difficult to separate them because they all blend in. That’s why its necessary to go back and read closely so you can at least appreciate one novel or short story. When we read some text once, we might think that there is nothing else too.
But if you read it again like how Botton revisited his neighborhood, you will find things you didn’t even notice the first time. This attitude can also be applied to writing. Button’s attitude when he was exploring his neighborhood could be seen as proofreading in writing. Proofreading is going back and checking your writing, making sure there are no errors, and making sure that your writing makes sense. Sometimes we won’t see the mistakes we made the first time, but when we go back and really look and we will find things that don’t make sense or small grammatical errors. We can also apply it to different styles of writing.
We can go back and review an essay and try to use different types of sentences. Also we can try to go back and change some of the vocabulary we use. Botton’s attitude will help anyone become a better writer. Botton’s mindset is helpful when you apply it to pieces of writing, or in your own writing. When going back to review your writing you will find many things you want to fix. It also works for reading. Going back and reviewing is good for any types of subjects whether it be reading and writing or math and science. When we go back and revise we will come across many things that we didn’t pick up on the first time.