How Do Habits Work?

As we endeavor to make changes in our life we come face-to-face with the realization of the challenge of the undertaking. We come to understand the strength of habits.

We have habits in every area of our life. Some are obvious and we recognize them. Most are less obvious, but nevertheless they are habits. Take for example, the time you go to bed. For most people, they go to be at the same time every day. We usually don’t think about this as a habit. We just think about it as something we do. We even have physical signals that it is time.

That’s one of the sneaky things about habits. Once they become ingrained they are just something we do.

Another sneaky thing about habits is they are like thick steel cables.

Habits don’t start out that way though. They start out as thin pieces of thread. During the first day of a new habit it is just as easy to not do it as it is to do it. Maybe easier. The second day it’s super easy to break that thread and not perform the activity.

But as time goes on, every time we perform that action of the habit it becomes stronger. Another thread is added. Before long you perform your habit without too much thought. It still is a conscience thought to trigger to motion, but not as much effort as at the beginning.

Sure, there are days when you try to talk yourself out of it. And sometimes you do talk yourself out of doing your new habit. You break the bundle of threads which had turned into a string. It took a bit of effort to break your habit for the day. You argued with yourself, knowing you should perform it, but arguing that you didn’t want to.

Presuming you don’t completely give up, you get back to your new habit. The threads turn into string which then builds into rope. Somewhere in the process the rope turns into steel and becomes the cable that entangles you and forces you to keep going.

Once our habit turns into rope it is hard to break. When it turns into cable it has to be cut with an outside force, a tool. The habit is so engrained that is just what we do.

Let me ask you a question. Why do you think bad habits are so easy to get into and good habits are so hard?

It seems like the bad habits we have come upon us with no effort at all. I mean, we don’t necessarily decide we are going to develop a habit that is going to be harmful to us, or makes us unpleasant to be around, or causes us to be unhappy or angry.

These seem to come upon us and start wrapping us with a thread without our even realizing it. By the time we realize that we have the habit it is a rope that is hard to break. By that time we are so accustomed to the habit we are afraid to change. We don’t remember what life was like without the habit.

Good habits though don’t come upon us. We have to decide we want to develop the habit. We have to decide to get the thread and to start winding it together into a rope. We have to put thought and effort into developing the habit. It doesn’t just happen to us like a bad habit. We have to win the argument to convince ourselves to not skip today and to do it even though we don’t feel like it.

Nevertheless, good habit or bad, the process of thread becoming cable is still the same. Taking control of your life involves you deciding which kind of habits you want to be binding you and then acting on your decision.

Hope this helps as you strive to stay on track with your New Year’s Resolutions! Pursue Great!, In all you do.

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