By in Tutorials

What is a Habit?


A habit is something that is done automatically, without having to think about it consciously. It's like turning on the light
as you come in through the door, or picking a candy from the bowl on the table. We all have a LOT of habits, both good and
bad. Sometimes, we only realise that when we are trying to change them.

Habits can include:

getting up at a particular time every day, getting dressed and showering, knowing how to get to and from work, sometimes, even
to the extent of not remembering the journey! Washing the dishes, Doing the laundry, picking up groceries...

It would be exhausting to actually have to THINK about doing all of those every day.

Change your Habits, Change Yourself

If you want to change your life, the easiest way is to start a good new habit, in yourself or in others. (Remember, you cannot
change anyone else, only yourself, but you can encourage others by example.)

For example, if you want your kitchen or living room to be less cluttered you need to form a habit of finding homes for the
items you consider to be clutter, such as filing your bills, getting the kids to not leave their toys lying around or homework
there, or having everyone put their dishes into the dishwasher each night. These are all small things, but you need to set up
a routine so you can keep your kitchen or living room clean and tidy. It takes 21 days, according to some sources to create a
new habit. It takes longer and is harder to stop an old habit but it can be done.

Image Credit » by geralt

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allen0187 wrote on October 25, 2015, 8:20 PM

An average person needs to do something for 21 days straight to turn that activity into a habit.

Feisty56 wrote on October 25, 2015, 8:45 PM

I don't know if this is true for everyone or if it's just me, but whether I am trying to banish a bad habit or establish a new one, I have to make this a priority in my conscious thinking day in and day out until either the bad habit is gone or the new habit begins to feel routine. Periods of high anxiety or workloads can derail the best of intentions, so I try not to begin to make the changes until these situations have passed.

Ellis wrote on October 25, 2015, 9:51 PM

What is a habit? It's that robe type thingy that monks wear...

wolfgirl569 wrote on October 25, 2015, 9:58 PM

I have heard the 21 day rule also. Maybe thats why I dont get too many things changed, I cant remember the same thing that many days in a row lol

Paulie wrote on October 25, 2015, 11:55 PM

People are truly creatures of habit. I guess it's because we want to think less. It took me only one or two days to develop my smoking habit years ago.

CoralLevang wrote on October 26, 2015, 12:00 AM

Looks like you might start your own MegLady following here! emoticon :winking:

morilla wrote on October 26, 2015, 12:37 AM

Learning is defined as a more or less permanent change in behavior resulting from practice. Webster's defines "habit," in part, as: " a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance... an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. " Thus, it's like typing or driving a stick shift. You have to consciously practice to the point where it becomes an unconscious behavior in such a way that any conscious thought actually begins to impede the process.

That's why I call it "grinding the gears." When you don't shift properly you tend to grind the gears. In that sense, most typists just KNOW when they haven't hit the keys correctly and it tends to create an hesitation; the equivalent of grinding gears. It's also why an habit, once established, is so hard to break.

Dawnwriter wrote on October 26, 2015, 1:46 AM

I think if we start by getting rid of 2-3 bad habits and adopting a couple of good habits per year, we can have a brand new personality in 5 years. And this is good for us and those around us. We should not get stuck in a rut and become predictable in our (bad) habits.

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:29 AM

I think that's probably true for most people.

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:29 AM

And nuns too!

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:30 AM

LOL, that was addiction! I don't want to get addicted to housework!

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:30 AM

LOL, DON'T follow me on this. I don't want to be a guru! emoticon :grin:

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:33 AM

Yes, that's why the "steps to competence" model felt so right to me when I learnt it.

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 3:34 AM

Getting rid of bad habits can be much harder than learning new ones. emoticon :sad:

markgraham wrote on October 26, 2015, 9:35 AM

I agree with you changing your habits is hard to do but if you want to change it will take time.

paigea wrote on October 26, 2015, 1:51 PM

It is very hard to change habits. Adding a new one onto an existing habit helps. eg. I always drink coffee so, I can always do the new thing - whatever it is at the time I go to get coffee. FLYlady taught me that too!

MegL wrote on October 26, 2015, 2:45 PM

That's a good idea.

HappyLady wrote on October 28, 2015, 4:31 PM

That 21 day rule is useful. Good article, Meg.

cheri wrote on October 30, 2015, 4:39 AM

Its not easy to form a habit because it takes time.

markgraham wrote on November 1, 2015, 5:40 PM

After reading this post a second time did you ever think about writing articles for psychology based magazines or maybe unless you already are a psychologist or counselor.

MegL wrote on November 1, 2015, 6:09 PM

No, I am neither a psychologist nor a counselor.

markgraham wrote on November 1, 2015, 6:12 PM

Did you ever try to submit this article to some magazine? I think it is good it seem to cover the five W's.

MegL wrote on November 1, 2015, 6:15 PM

I will probably put something similar to it on one of my blogs when I have the time. NOT exactly the same but extended. At present i am still trying to catch up with everything that got left while I was finishing my thesis, as well as help my daughter with childminding and few other hundred other things! And then I also have to prepare for my viva. Ah well, there's a good day coming! as my husband always says.

CoralLevang wrote on November 3, 2015, 5:19 PM

I am in the process of doing some things very differently.

Why is it that bad habits seem to be easier to develop than the good ones? LOL

MegL wrote on November 3, 2015, 5:54 PM

LOL, probably because they have to do with reward and enjoyment and addiction in the case of smoking and coffee drinking, etc, whereas "good habits" are often seen as those things we "should" do, that our parents or teachers "told" us to do and that we rebel against doing even though we know they would make life a lot easier for us.