What Is a Habit?

Red Traffic Light © by dlofink

According to the dictionary a habit is: “… a routine behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.” We need habits to make a solid foundation upon which we can build our life. Sometimes these habits become a hinder to what we want because they have turned into bad habits. That often happens when conditions in our environment change and we do not change with these conditions.

E.g. every day you drive the same way for work, and you have done it for years. If someone at work would ask you how many traffic lights you saw on the way and how many of the traffic lights were red, then you would not be able to answer. Driving to work is a routine that you do not think about and your subconscious mind has taken over most of your driving.

Many years ago I drove my car the same way every day and one day I missed a traffic light and ran through a red light. How could that happen? Well, the traffic light was new and it had never been there before and was not a part of my unconscious routines. My old habit suddenly had to change or it would turn into a bad habit of running through red lights.

Habits are very powerful because they are actions that we do without having to think about what we are doing. That is why you can take charge of your own life and destiny as soon as you learn how to control your habits. Old habits are very difficult to break and new habits are difficult to make because the routines of the habits are programmed into your neural pathways and you need to reprogram yourself to control your habits.

Aristotle said that virtues are habits and the good life is a life of mindless routine. Basically this means that your life equals your habits. If your habits are good you will have a good life, if your habits are bad you will have a bad life. Take a look at your life and see if you succeed in what you are doing. Are you happy? If not, then maybe you should consider doing thing differently.

Stephen R. Covey is the author of the book “7 Good Habits of Highly Effective People” and he found that habits are the sum of our knowledge, desire and skills. I highly recommend this book and in my upcoming posts I will show you how important emotions are as well.

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