Forming habits, now there’s a thing. Someone told me once that it takes three weeks to form or break a habit. I’m not sure where that came from or whether there is any evidence to support it. Nevertheless, the turn of each new year has features editors of newspapers and magazines publishing articles on the new habits we urgently need to acquire or lose. Is that a habit of theirs they could safely shed, I wonder?
Habits don’t like awareness
We all know that new year resolutions generally fail before the end of January. Except the one not to make any, which I find works well and lasts all year! Old habits die hard, so the adage runs, and in any event it would be silly to suggest that we should have no habits all. Many are very useful, like washing our hands after we have been to the bathroom. If only everyone did. The problem comes when our repetitive thinking and behaviour (which is what habits are) have a negative impact on ourselves and on others. Then there is something we can, and should, do.
Just observe and break the chain
The key to change for the better is not self-flagellation, dieting, running up mountains or taking ice baths, interesting and challenging though such activities may be. Rather it is to become aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Simple awareness can work wonders because it is the portal for our innate intelligence. Try it sometimes; better still, often. Before doing anything, pause and observe. Break the chain of one automatic response after another. Starve the habit of oxygen. Those few moments of comparative silence allow something rather good to happen. What it is, though, you must discover for yourself.
Do less to accomplish more – read my book The Art of Not Doing – How to Achieve Inner Peace and a Clear Mind