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What is a Habit?

‘You’ve got a really bad habit’ – ‘Can you change your habit?’ – ‘That’s a good habit to have’ - We heard these types of statements being said all the time. But what does it mean? What is a habit?

Habits are a huge part of our everyday lives. Not only is it a huge part of our lives, habits are one of the most influential governing factors of our existence. Your actions, your responses, the decisions you make, the way you live your life are all largely dictated by your habits.

Exactly what is a habit?

So what is a habit? In simple terms, it is a behavior or a set of behaviors that you do automatically, without thinking and consciously intending. When you automatically put on your seat belt once you get in your car, that’s a habit. When you find yourself biting your fingernails, that’s a habit. When you clap your hands after a performance, that’s a habit.

According to Wikipedia;

Habits are automatic routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, without thinking. They are learned, not instinctive, human behaviors that occur automatically, without the explicit contemporaneous intention of the person.

The last line of that definition about habits occurring with no ‘explicit contemporaneous intention of the person’ clearly describes how our habits almost has a life and mind of it’s own. Combine that with it being automatic and regularly repeated makes it a powerful controlling force in our lives. Habits are not just restricted to our behaviors, our thoughts can become habits as well.

What are habits for?

what is a habit The basic purpose of habits is to assists us in our daily lives. Imagine if all of us have to consciously think and direct our intentions when doing and going through every single thing in our daily lives.

If there is something that you routinely do everyday, like brush your teeth when you wake up, stop the car when there’s a red light or follow the correct route when driving to your office, how inconvenient would it be if you have to repeatedly direct your full attention when doing these tasks everyday?

Habits simplify our lives by putting these routine, regularly repeated actions on auto-pilot. We don’t need to think or put any explicit attention to performing these tasks. It makes going through our daily lives much more manageable.

Apart from that, in addition to not requiring us to constantly use our brains, habits also allows to us to perform multiple tasks at the same time. You can drive and talk at the same time, you can brush your teeth while thinking about ideas for your business proposal.

Good and bad habits

Just as we have good habits, we also have bad habits. Despite the original function of habits to simplify our lives, we can also develop habits that are negative and destructive.

Whenever we repeatedly exhibit a behavior, response or thought, it will become a habit. So if you like to eat a lot when you feel bored, you are wiring yourself to eat whenever you feel bored. Or the more you allow yourself to lose temper over trivial matters, the more likely it will happen again.

That is why we must be very careful and be aware of the habits that we are unconsciously developing every single day.

Having good, positive habits is the key to living a happy, successful life.

Want To Know More?

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