Saturday, June 25, 2011
“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it” by Horace Mann.
Habit is the topic of my post on the blog ‘Thought for the day’ today. As far as I remember I have dealt a little with the theme when I wrote a post on addictions, but that was long time ago and as I expect to renew the article from time to time I want to try to cover the subject from all possible aspect. Of course, I will not be able to do it today. I think it will be an intro now and will grow to an expanded article later.
A habit is a repetitive behavior that is done subconsciously. It forms over a period of time and as time passes by the habits that we have formed become stronger and more difficult to change than they are at the stage of habit formation. A subtotal of our habits makes up our personalities and distinguishes us from other people who have a different set of habits. Therefore, I will boldly state that we are who we are because of our habits. But how do we form one?
Habit formation is very much connected with our likes. We will definitely form a habit around something we like, good or bad. When we repeat a certain thing for a number of times or days, most probably it will get used to doing it daily. Some say that it takes about two weeks, some about 30 days to form a habit. I am not sure if after that period the practice will become habitual, but more chances are that it will. For some people one day is enough to get addicted to this thing or that. Don’t get me wrong, the same principle works for the good. We can get used to doing a good thing in no time.
Once a habit is formed it starts controlling our lives. We do the thing automatically. Imagine how destructive it is if the thing we do habitually is bad in itself. It takes time to change it and there has to be willingness and dedication on our part. One should have a definite plan of actions how he is intending to get rid of an old habit and develop a new one. I believe we can not get rid of the old one without accepting the new. There are no empty places in universe and you cannot expect that by simply kicking the old practice something will radically change. No, you will have to form new practices.
Any change starts in your mind first. Therefore you should start seeing yourself (in your imagination) without the old thing and doing the new thing. This is called disassociation and association. You begin by disassociating yourself from the old habit and associating yourself with a new one. Do it daily till it becomes a part of your daily (mental) routine.
You will then have to learn to control your thoughts, which will give you power to control your feelings. You should not be led by your feelings for they will bring you trouble. You cannot behave the way you feel all the time. Allow only thoughts which you select to dominate in your mind, not random ones that cause all possible negative feelings and emotions.
Since habit formation is connected with things that you like, try to find things that you enjoy and they are not harmful, but beneficial both for you and your family. They should be things that you could do every day for to form a long term practice you need to do the thing every day. This could be reading something inspirational in the morning, or running in the evening, or doing odd jobs about the house.
Then you will have to do the thing every day. It is highly improbable for something to become a new habit if you do it once a week or once in a while. Do it daily for at least 40 days. Then stop to see how much progress you have made. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t see much change. You will if you go on.
Ok, I guess it’s enough for today. I will try to update the post about change of habits next week.