The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Habits

We all have habits. Heck, my cats have habits too. But, we’re human and we still can’t help ourselves. We all do things automatically, without thinking about doing them. Some habits are good, like putting on your seatbelt any time you get into a vehicle. Some habits are not so good, like satisfying the urge to text while driving that vehicle.
Habits are things you and I do routinely, mechanically, robotically. You can do complex behavior without being mentally aware of it at all. Habits weren’t always fixed. As near we can tell, no one is born with habits, good or bad, neatly aligned and in place. They were developed over time.
Even today to formulate a habit you must grow it.  That’s a double edged sword since you can either create or destroy a habit and those habits can be either detrimental or beneficial.
The development of a habit is closely related to the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. A part of the brain called the basal ganglia is thought to play a key role in the formation of habits. The scientific and psychological discussions regarding habits are vast.
We know that it is far easier to prevent a habit from being formed than it is to break an established one.
I’m reminded of the time when I decided to quit smoking cigarettes for the fifth or sixth time. I did an experiment. Firstly I began to notice when I automatically grabbed for a cigarette. I found that a smoke was used as a reward for something done well or completed or, on the other hand, as a comfort when something didn’t go as expected. I didn’t quit right away, but I became more and more aware of the times I lit up. I began to change the reward pattern by substituting a cigarette for another habit forming reward. (Just so you know, I eventually quit Dec. 23, 2003 by going cold turkey.)
The principle was sound because I was recognizing the pattern and altering behavior.
One of the most effective ways to change a habit is to do it with a committed buddy. As humans, if left alone, we tend to sleaze out on ourselves. It’s one of the reasons AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is such a success, you’re never left alone. If you make a promise to another you are less likely to break that pledge. Set it up so you check in daily at first (hourly if necessary) and then taper off as it becomes easier to recognize and alter your behavior.
Our habits are powerful companions that provide a sense of comfort and satisfaction and that what makes it all the more difficult to break. Be assured that bad ones can be broken and even good ones can be tamed with persistence.

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.
~Benjamin Franklin
Not managing your time and making excuses are two bad habits. Don’t put them both together by claiming you “don’t have the time”.
~Bo Bennett
Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.
You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.
~Wayne Dyer
Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married?
~Barbra Streisand
It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
~Benjamin Franklin
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
~Mark Twain
Television is like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn’t change people’s habits. It just kept them inside the house.
~Alfred Hitchcock Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Tell a friend Tags: bad habits, behavior, breaking habits, habit, habit-making behavior, routine, rut

Rick Lelchuk

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