I am currently reading a book titled The Power of HABIT by Charles Duhigg. I am 100 pages in and already it has made me realise just how much we are led by our habits. The majority of habits we have are automatic, we have been taking the same course of action for so long that we do not give it a second thought. Those of you who drive, have you ever arrived at your destination and cannot recall the journey? When I started my driving lessons over 20 years ago I felt there were far too many processes to driving. I could not get my head around the fact that at the end of each road you had to stop, put the car into neutral then first gear before driving off – as well as looking in your mirrors and at your blindspot! Now, I do this with very little effort as it has become a habit; a part and parcel of my life.
When I arrive to my place of work, I drink a cup of warm water, two if I am feeling extra healthy. This has become a habit and I do so before eating anything. I have read it can take up to 30 days for an action to become a habit, I feel this is a rather long time but it goes to show how often we need to repeat something before it becomes part of us. Before we begin to attach it to our lives and take ownership of it.
I am sure you can think of a number of actions you take at around the same time of day. An ex-colleague of mine would make a cup of tea at the same time every day. He was most certainly a man of order. He would actually wait for 11am, 2pm and I think 4pm. Even if he felt for a hot drink minutes before, he would wait until the hour came. I personally felt this was extreme but it worked for him and caused no harm to anyone else.
In a way, forming habits can give us a sense of control, often a false sense of control. We feel we are shaping our day by doing what is familiar to us, what feels good to us. Habits often make us feel safe and comfortable. If anything were to occur to somewhat change these habits, it may well bring confusion or unsettle us. It is for this very same reason that I try to be more flexible to avoid major disappointment when I am unable to do what I wish at an appointed time. One habit I am holding onto is eating snacks at home whilst watching a film – I like to have the cinema experience!
I have given much thought to my habits as I try to identify where they came from and when. Whilst I am happy to hold onto good habits, I will work towards dropping habits that no longer exist to enhance any area of my life. It will not happen immediately as if you have spent years doing a thing it is unlikely you can let go of it in an instant.
What habits do you have?
Do they enhance or hinder your life?
When were these habits formed?