Where Do Habits Come From?
“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.”-John Dryden, England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668.That quote is as true today as it was 350 years ago. The only difference is today we have a far greater understanding of the extent to which habits shape our lives.In other words, we’ve answered the question, “Where do habits come from?”When we think of habits, we think of things like brushing our teeth or going to bed at the same time every night. Every day is characterized by the unconscious habits we have developed. We owe where we are today to the many such habits we have adopted over our lifetime.
Where Do Habits Come From?
Our habits guide our behaviour, from the way we put on our clothes (right arm always goes into the sleeve before the left), to the ritual we go through when arrive at work each morning (first we hang up our jacket, then we grab a coffee). These behaviours produce our results.The habits that have the greatest impact on our lives and are most responsible for where we are today are the ones that guide our thinking. This triggers our decisions and leads to our behaviours.When some @$$#*!= cuts into our lane causing us to slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid a collision, we might erupt in fury, spouangrily chase after the $#!+#€@ↁ with no plan in place for what to do in the event we catch them.That response is learned. It’s the habit of anger and blame, followed by the behaviour of road rage. Perhaps it was modelled from a parent, or some other influential adult. It has now become our unconscious default.How we respond to almost any situation is the way we have reacted to similar situations in the past. We will continue to do so in the future unless we actively make a change.
Making a Change
For example if our first response, when presented with a business opportunity is to look for what is problematic, we have trained ourselves to do so. We will invariably seek to find everything “wrong” before we even consider the positive possibilities.If our habit is to view the world through a lens of scarcity, we will seldom see the abundance that abounds.If we have become skilled at the habit of pessimism, the glass will always seem half empty, even when it is overflowing.Almost without exception, the tallest and widest barriers in our quest for success are the limiting beliefs which fuel to our limiting thoughts, which then culminate in our limiting habits and dictate our self-defeating behaviours.John Dryden got it right. We have learned – indeed, instilled in ourselves – habits that influence us in ways that cannot possibly do any good. Yet we continue to repeat them blissfully unaware that these thoughts are merely the result of habits, and negative, limiting habits can always be replaced by upbeat, supportive and optimistic ones.In other words, to change our habits we must first change our thoughts. Never forget this magnificent gift of choice is your birthright.Remember, they used to tell us it was all in our heads?They were right.Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.