Handwriting has always been a contentious point between me and my son. Whenever I point out his rough hand writing, he comes up with the excuse of struggle to complete the task in stringent time during classroom hours. This justification gives me reason to highlight the importance of habit to him. As a parent I always want him to understand that once he can master the habit of making the words in particular pattern, he will not need to focus on it and the current tedious task to him will become a part of him.
But whenever I explain it to him, his puzzled expressions tell me that it is not that easy to see through the habit loop That also reminds me a school memory about the word habit. On a regular assembly day our Principal had chosen to talk about habits with us. Though the entire subject was not much different from usual advice tonics given in assemblies, but one thing struck with me distinctly.
The way she explained the word HABIT using its spelling was quite distinctive. She warned us to look out on what we routine we are allowing to become a habit because a habit once carved inside us, it will be deep rooted. She explained it by breaking the word HABIT
So the word itself tells us how sticky it is. A part of it remains with us and can tinker in again anytime. In fact on the contrary if we look to the matter of creating a habit it requires the same effort. A very strong willpower is needed to practice and perfect something to make it a habit. IT may start with a simple routine, adding BIT of more practice will make it move inch ahead. Further progression will need A BIT more preparation and then after considerable training it becomes a HABIT, something you fall into doing subconsciously.
The dictionary meaning of habit also says that it is an act that we end up doing subconsciously. Habitual routines do not need us to put any extra thinking effort on them. The way we react, the way we perceive, the choices we make at every moment are driven by numerous habits some consciously chosen, some added with the social behaviors known to us etc. At times we see us through our habits and it becomes difficult to part ourselves from our habits. As is said Habits make a Man.
Falling in and out of habit both requires good amount of effort and many a times people feel it is impossible; hence we ought to choose our habits well. We can be watchful to our routines which have a tendency to grow into habits. Usually a routine starts with some cue followed by some reward and hence the craving loop starts rolling and we get trapped in same before we can even accept its happening to us. As Sean Lovey pointed in The Seven Habit of Highly Effective Teens “We become what we repeatedly do”.
We have to be conscious towards the progression of our habit, unless it becomes an obsession or addiction. But not every routine or surrounding that creates our routines are in our hands. Many habits are not conscious choices. Then how do we control them or try to change them.
There is always a craving hidden in a habit loop. Habits are powerful because they create neurological craving*. To overpower a habit we must recognize this craving. Next time when our hands rush to open that gaming app or the chocolate box, when some part of us struggles to stop us, don’t argue but look for the craving beneath it. The kill here is to find an equally strong but more positive alternative to this craving. When we see something is taking toll on us but is not what we want to be invested in or associated with, look out for some replacement to it.
“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by Habit” ……….Erasmus
Will power and strong determination is required to have this task completed because the path may be treacherous and tedious.
Learning and growing is a continuous process and we must keep adding and deleting things from our behavior. It is better to always keep upgrading ourselves with scope of refining. There is no global rule to live an ideal life. Change ought to be given a broad view always, though it can be exhausting and frustrating.
To end it up for now with another take from Charles Duhigg
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped. ”
* Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg