The Origin of Habit

Parisian Love Lock © by thezartorialist.com

Why should you be interested in the origin of the word habit? Because I believe that the language we use creates the reality we live in and by examining history we can better understand the components of a concept or an idea. In the case of habits I will show some important key elements of the concept. E.g. emotion is a core concept of habits; emotions are essential to the existence of a habit.

It is both rewarding and interesting to study history to understand better and I have made some research on the word “habit”. I have tracked the word back to the Indo-European word “ghabh” meaning to grab or to take. Indo-European is the language family most European languages come from and English follows a branch of the family consisting of Germanic, West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian and Anglic.

“Habit” comes from Indo-European but it did not develop into the Germanic branch of languages; it was adopted from French monks about year 1300. The synonym “wonts” is not used much anymore but that is the original word for the meaning “habit” has today.

“Wonts” comes from the Indo-European word “wen-“ that means love, want or win. If you study the words that come from “wen-“ you will discover that they all have emotions in common. They express something that we have a strong feeling for; something we love or something we have a strong desire to own.

Thus, a habit is connected to words like love, want, take and win. They are all strong words that express emotion, desire, action and vision. Most of the models and tools that are developed to assist you getting success in life encompass desire, action and vision, but very often they miss out emotions.

How to Be Positive: The Principle Behind

Clever Hans was not so clever after all...

Clever Horse? © by eXtensionHorses

Be positive! A message that I keep repeating and that you hear almost anyone who talks about self-improvement say. Being positive is a message that is repeated in almost any area that you are working on. E.g. Areas like self-esteem; self-confidence; being nice and having success etc. Today I will tell two small stories that demonstrate the positive principle.

Pygmalion was a Greek prince who was fed up with women wasting their lives on pleasure and amusement, so he preferred to live unmarried and single. Pygmalion was a very skilled sculptor and he decided to make a sculpture of the perfect woman. He made the sculpture in ivory and he named her Galatea. The sculpture of Galatea was so beautiful that Pygmalion immediately fell in love with her. He caressed her and gave her beautiful gifts to show his love to her. On the day where the Greeks celebrated Venus, Pygmalion kneeled at the altar of Venus and asked for a woman just like Galatea. Venus heard his wish and she decided to fulfil his request. When Pygmalion came home; he touched his beloved Galatea; and she became warm and alive.

Ovid lived for about 2000 years ago and he wrote this little story that illustrates how you can realise a vision by focusing on the positive aspects about it. Pygmalion could have chosen to focus on the women who wasted their lives but then he would never see anything but women wasting their lives. By focusing on his visions he managed to form his own future. Of course, this is just a story and things does not always turn out the way you want to, but by having a positive attitude to your visions, there is a good chance that you will realise some of them, especially if you can make other people believe in these visions and turn them into a collective image. The next little story will illustrate how something can exist if people believe it does.

Clever Hans was a horse that lived in 1904. Stumpt and Pfungst made some studies of this horse because it was exceptional clever. The owner of Clever Hans, Willhelm von Osten, had trained the horse to answer all kinds of questions; and the horse was never wrong. After some research it turned out that Clever Hans was not so clever, after all, because he could only answer questions for which you already knew the answer. The reason, that Clever Hans always gave the right answers was that he reacted on the body language of the person who put the question. Clever Hans simply finished his answer when the person’s body language reacted to the right answer. The horse did not know this, of course, but that was how it was.

These two stories demonstrate the positive principle and that we create the reality, we live in, ourselves. Both stories show how a dream, a vision or a simple wish can become real if you really want it to. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that comes true based on resources we have inside ourselves.