As human beings we are creature of habits. Every morning we wake up and start the day with the same habits as the day before, the week before and even the year before. Most of us are unaware of our habits. We do them whilst we focus on something else. This is the downside of a busy lifestyle when most things are done on autopilot. Constantly rushing from here to there and then back to here, only to realise that we haven’t even been fully present neither here nor there.
So, you got the message. Life is busy, this is the norm. You can hear people frequently saying out loud “Life is busy, life is hectic”, this the slogan most people live by. Ultimately, this is the line that instils a lot of fear and panic into the human mind. Nonetheless, it doesn’t fail its repetition.
Identifying your habits it’s not an easy process, when high traffic moves through your brain carrying roughly 60000 thoughts per day. Not to mention that 80% of them are negative. So, subconsciously, we are wired to have more negative habits. However, this is not all bad, because it doesn’t have to stay this way.
Like with most changes, a new beginning starts with awareness. If you don’t like your life change your habits. Start small. Positive habits empower the Spirit within you. Negative habits strengthen the Ego.
What exactly is a habit?
A habit is a routine behaviour which sometimes may even take place unconsciously because most people avoid being present in every moment. (Remember the character Robert from “Everybody loves Raymond” – he used to touch his food to his chin before eating. The interesting thing was that he wasn’t even aware of doing it until Raymond his brother pointed it out to him). The longer we practice a habit the harder it feels to let go of the habit. We hold onto our habits, because the habits have become us, and we have become our habits. Oftentimes you hear people say: “I always did it like that”. Now, this is relevant for positive and negative habits.
How is the habit formed?
The person who introduced toothbrushing to America in the early 1900 was the American businessman called Claude C. Hopkins. How did he do that? Charles Duhigg explains this in his book “The Power of Habit”. He wrote: “Hopkins created a toothbrushing habit by identifying a simple and obvious cue, delivering a clear reward and most important by creating a neurological craving.”
Why do habits emerge?
The human brain has evolved immensely with time and hence is looking for shortcuts to save energy. Scientists say that this is the cause why we have habits. It’s easier for the brain to create habits almost out of everything, because in this way the mind is free to travel into the past and into the future and then back to the past. Once a habit is form, there is no need to involve the brain in decision making.
Does a habit disappear?
According to science habits never really disappear. They are deeply ingrained into our brain and that’s a brilliant, because it would be terrible if we would have to relearn how to drive after every holiday.
How to become aware of your habits?
One way to notice your habits is to practice mindfulness. Choose one day per month when you are less busy and pay close attention to your daily routine. Start writing everything down beginning with your morning routine, lunch behaviours, dinner patterns and anything else in between. Do this exercise with an open mind and open heart. Leave behind any judgement or self-criticism. Perhaps start with an intention like “I would like to improve my life and become aware of my habits”.
How long until a habit becomes automatic?
According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. On average the study concluded it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Why do we need positive habits?
We not only need positive habits but a positive attitude towards life in general. The pillars of a happy and healthy life are healthy and positive habits. Your habits are who you are 90% of the time. Imagine this: if you are into the habit of exercising every day for the next 5yr, then you are going to look very different from the person that would rather lie on a couch and watch the telly for the next 5yr, right? Ask yourself a few questions like: Is this my best life? What do I really want from this lifetime? I know I can do better than this, what do I need to change my habits? The more awareness you create around your habits the more you will want to change them. Good and positive habits allow you to reach your goals. Warning! You don’t have to transform all your habits at once. Start with one habit and work on it until it’s transformed in the way you want it to.