“We can gradually grow into any condition we desire, provided we first make ourselves in habitual mental attitude the person who corresponds to those conditions.” – Judge Thomas Troward
Daily Nugget of Gold 1125
Those Pesky Habits and Free Will
We love to declare that we have free will. We also love to say that we “can’t quit” certain habits that we’d like to stop doing. Smoking comes to mind on this one. Maybe eating too much, or not eating the right things in order to improve our health. Your author here knows full well about the bad habits he possesses, most likely as you yourself do. Ben Franklin extolled the virtues of eliminating habits he thought were harmful as well, but like most of us- some of them he didn’t shake either. Still, we ought to give old Ben credit (Well, not that he needs credit, that IS his face on the one hundred dollar bill!)- at least he named 13 virtues and attempted to live by them.
If we want to change our outcomes in life for the better, there likely is no better place to start than within the heart. Our subconscious mind adopts habits based on routines we want mental shortcuts for, but it does not have the ability to judge them to be good or bad. It will form a good habit just as easily as it will embrace a bad one. Our job is to be careful not to dig any ruts we don’t want to drive in every day. Let’s be clear- a lot of the habits we install are good ones. The predilection of the human brain to fall into automated behavior is a wonderful thing as long as we are empowering ourselves.
We want to be more mindful as we do things so that we aren’t engaged in negative behavior which will be difficult to change. Telling everyone we feel sick, for instance, installs the habit of being sick. Telling our spouse or our kids, “I can’t afford it” breeds the habit of living on an extremely tight budget. Once these habits are well established, they are indeed difficult to overcome. It takes conscious effort to build the habits we wish to install and live by, but it very likely we can do this if we try.
There are three things that form the habit loop says the author of “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg, and they are this: The cue, the routine, and the reward. If we study what of those three elements of our bad habits consist of, then we can modify them and build better habits. One word of caution: Eliminating a bad habit only puts it to sleep. It can easily be awakened again if we aren’t careful. If we can replace our bad habits with good ones using the three elements described above, then and really- only then- can we say we have “free will”. Otherwise we are confining ourselves to our past negative behavior by relinquishing control to our automated thought processes. Does all of this make sense to you?
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“What can I change of the three elements habits are made of to more effectively move from bad habits to good ones?’
Copyright 2014 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.