The Power Of Habits

Compound The Efficiency Of Habits

Habits Will Sustain You, Maintain You Or Undermine You


The Power Of Habits. Compound The Efficiency Of Habits. Habits Will Sustain You, Maintain You Or Undermine You. Picture of a naked male model with a monkey on his back.

Greg Spalenka

The power of habits is firstly that they are regular and automatic, and secondly that they can:

  • Sustain you
  • Maintain you
  • Undermine you

A habit is defined as: "an automatic response to a specific situation, acquired normally as a result of repetition and learning".




The Power Of Habits - SUSTAINING

Sustaining habits

The road was icy and narrow and as the Mercedes I was driving barrelled along (too fast), I was chatting to my teenage son. Suddenly a large van appeared coming towards us. He also was going too fast.

We were heading straight into a serious accident. I automatically took avoiding action and without touching the brake I steered into the gulley at the edge of the road and back onto the road whilst maintaining our speed. The oncoming van driver did the same and both vehicles shot past each other without a scratch.

The whole thing was over in less time than it's taken you to read this.

"Dad, how on earth did you do that?" asked my son. "Habit son, habit" I replied "...based on accumulated experience of many years driving in all weathers and conditions..."




The Power Of Habits - MAINTAINING

Maintaining habits.

We were canooing in Halong Bay (Vietnam) about 2km off-shore. Unlike the calm conditions in the picture, there was a heavy swell and a stiff and freshening breeze.

Looking further out into the bay I could see dark clouds and what looked like a squall approaching. Whilst the immediate conditions were safe nevertheless I felt uneasy.

Old habits from extensive sea canooing many years previously kicked in and I found myself reading the conditions... noting the falling temperature, the taste of moisture in the increasing wind, and the white tops forming on the swell...

We circled round and headed back to shore...




The Power Of Habits - UNDERMINING

Undermining habits.

I have indulged in all of the usual vices and thankfully emerged relatively unscathed except for smoking...

For many years I used to smoke.  I would stop for a few years and then start smoking again. The trouble is, that I like smoking - but my body doesn't! It's a habit that is deeply ingrained.

I finally figured out how to replace my smoking habit with a non-smoking habit...




The Efficiency Of Habits in Response Management

Habits are efficient and enable us to perform thought processes and behaviours without wasting time and energy figuring out what to do, and they do not require your conscious attention.

Habits are amoral and indifferent to outcome their sole function is to maximise the efficiency of your thinking and doing.

In a recent article we have looked in some depth at "The Law Of Response And Outcome" as means of living a resourceful life.

Managing your responses to events is entirely based on the efficiency of your habits:


Thinking 

How you think is governed by habits. Your brain processes and organizes information in a number of different ways utilising a range of hardwired  thinking processes. Your capacity to apply the most appropriate cognitive process to the situation you are faced with will largely be driven by your habits.


Not Thinking

Being able to stop thinking - turn your thoughts off at will, and then witness or observe (without narrative or analysis) your thoughts and feelings as they arise is based on habit, the whole practice of mindfulness is entirely based on habits.


Focus

Maintaining a consistent and persistent point of focus - on your long term goals in the pursuit of your life purpose is grounded in habits.


Responsiveness

Managing your responses to the events in your life - influences the outcomes that you experience. The strength and quality of your responses are determined by your supporting skills and experience all of which is grounded in habits.




Compounding The Power Of Habits

How small habits make a big difference over the long-term

James Clear’s book Atomic Habits explores the long term power of compounding, also known as the long game

Small barely noticeable changes can make a major difference when you factor in the passage of time. Clear says:

"...if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero...

...when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement

The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.

They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous."

The best opportunities in life are those offer superior returns, low risk, and a long duration.

Investing in yourself in yourself and forming the right habits offer high returns in your investment of application and energy over the long term.

Good habits can give you a significant, sustainable competitive advantage in life.

Good habits can give you an advantageous divergence from the herd.





The Science Of The Power Of Habits

One of the most well known and popular books on the power of habits is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg and he has written in detail about the science of the formation and change in habits:

Chunking

"The process—in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine—is known as ‘chunking,’ and it’s at the root of how habits form."

Origin of habits

"Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage."

Three-Step Loop of Habit Formation

"This process within our brains is a three-step loop.

First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.

Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.

Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future...

Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually… a habit is born."

Does the Brain Stop Functioning?

"When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks.

So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically."

Changing A Habit

"...a habit cannot be eradicated—it must, instead, be replaced.

If we keep the same cue and the same reward, a new routine can be inserted. But that’s not enough.

For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group."

Permanence Of Habits

Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation. The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.”

James Clear builds on Charles Duhiggs work in this article: 

How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick

Read an overview and key point summary of "Atomic Habits"






Further Reading:

Better Than Before - Mastering Habits [Book Summary]

5 Buddhist Teachings on Working With Habitual Patterns of Thought

Habits Of Incredibly Happy People


Free Download: One Page Summary Sheet With Action Points & Resources


Return from The Power of Habits to: Renewing Your Mind






English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Benefit From the Unseen Margins - 5 Key Tips For Success

    These Unseen Margins Can Have A Very Dramatic Impact On Your Life. To understand how to benefit from the unseen margins we need to start by understanding what they are and where we find them. In this…

    Read More

  2. The Art Of Thinking Clearly - How To Do More Than Just Survive And Reproduce

    3 Key Tips The art of thinking clearly starts with the sobering realisation that our brains are designed to achieve two things: Survival and Reproduction! 98% of our thinking is unconscious, automatic…

    Read More

  3. Algorithms to Live By - 5 Useful Rules Of Thumb

    5 Useful Heuristics From Algorithms To Live By The thesis of the book "Algorithms to Live By" is that algorithms developed for computers can be used by people in everyday life in a wide range of situa…

    Read More

  4. Finding Signal In The Noise - How To Avoid The Noise Bottleneck

    The Art Of Being Wise Is The Art Of Knowing What To Overlook. We are blessed and cursed to live in the digital age. We have access to more information than we can possibly handle yet we struggle to fi…

    Read More

  5. The Checklist Manifesto - Your Personal Safety Net

    A Checklist Is A Safety Net That Encourages Better Results And Prevents Avoidable Mistakes. The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correc…

    Read More

  6. How Not To Be Stupid - 4 Key Tips

    How To Avoid The 7 Causes Of Everyday Stupidity. We are all capable of everyday stupidity as we undertake routine tasks in our business and working lives and also in our personal lives. This is not ab…

    Read More

  7. Beginners Mind And The Voice Of Experience

    Only The Experts Survived Evolution. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." These are the famous words of Shunryu Suzuki in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Min…

    Read More

  8. The Art Of Being Alone Is A Skill

    Let's Make Today A Good Day. You may not have chosen the condition of being alone, and it may have been imposed upon you by circumstances beyond your control, but your response to the situation is wit…

    Read More

  9. Intuition & Anxiety - Are There Angels Or Devils Calling Here?

    How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety. How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety? We all struggle with these inner voices…

    Read More

  10. Like A Prayer - Life Is A Mystery

    It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed. Regardless of what we feel about Madonna or her song the topic of prayer often arouses strong reactions. Usually, it is som…

    Read More

  11. Fear Of Missing Out - "I'll Have What She's Having!"

    We Follow The Herd - We Mimic Other People's Choices. Fear of missing out - or FOMO as it is popularly referred to - is the feeling that everyone else in your peer group is having much more fun than y…

    Read More

  12. Free - Self Improvement Resources

    Exercising Balance and Discernment. I have just updated these self improvement resources with a number of additional sources of material that are practical and can help you change your life. Check it…

    Read More

  13. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    This Is The You That Is Beyond Your Thinking Mind. This is the big you, the transcendent you, the you that is often referred to as your higher consciousness or higher self. This is the you that acts a…

    Read More

  14. The Power Of Gratitude - It's Good For You!

    Gratitude And Attitude Are Not Challenges, They Are Choices. The power of gratitude quite simply is that it is good for you! Many of us were raised by parents who instilled in us the social niceties o…

    Read More

  15. Living With Your Thoughts - 4 Tools To Help You

    Develop A Good Working Relationship With Your Mind. The first step in living with your thoughts is to understand and develop a good working relationship with all areas of your mind. The key to develop…

    Read More

  16. You Are Not Your Thoughts - How To Escape This Ferris Wheel Of Suffering

    The 4 Stages To Dealing With Your Thoughts. You are not your thoughts, at least that's what your rational mind tells you most of the time, but that's definitely not how it feels at 3 am when you have…

    Read More

  17. Finish What You Start - Action Will Destroy Your Procrastination

    4 Key Tips To Help You Finish What You Start. So why do you fail to finish what you start? Or in my case, why do I fail to even get started? There is a wealth of information out there about how to avo…

    Read More

  18. Going The Extra Mile - The Power Of One More

    Life Is Non-Linear, Which Makes The Rewards Of Continued Effort Disproportionately Big. In the pursuit of a long term goal you have to go countless extra miles to set yourself up for a big success. Go…

    Read More

  19. Tao Te Ching - Connecting To Your True Source Of Power.

    How To Be Lived By The Tao. The Tao Te Ching is one of those books that many people read, few understand, and even fewer put into practice. The only way to know the Tao is to experience it, and it is…

    Read More

  20. Dying To Self & Dropping The Ego

    Everything Does Not Revolve Around Me. The two phrases dying to self & dropping the ego are Christian and Buddhist expressions of the same fundamental truth - the need to correct the inbuilt, hardwire…

    Read More

  21. The Confident Mind - 4 Keys To Peak Performance

    Peak Performance Is Meditation In Motion. Peak performance is grounded in the Tao practise of Wu Wei which means "doing with out doing". This is all about how you take action by being so immersed in p…

    Read More

  22. Going With The Flow - The Balance Of Being And Doing

    Steer The Boat Each Day Rather Than Plan Ahead Way Into The Future. Going with the flow is about learning to become comfortable with uncertainty, and learning how to exploit the potential hidden withi…

    Read More

  23. 8 Principles For Success

    A Timeless Foundation On Which To Build Your Success. There are Universal laws and processes that work to support us and guarantee that we achieve all our goals. But first we need to know what they ar…

    Read More

  24. The Loving Father

    A Love That Will Not Let You Go. I had a loving father. I knew that I did, but I never felt it. My father was a good man but very damaged and unable to show his feelings. So I grew up knowing in my he…

    Read More

  25. Your Ebenezer Stone Of Help

    How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power. Approximately 2,500 years ago the Israeli town of Kafr Qasim was close to the site of two battles between the ancient Israelis and their neighbours…

    Read More

  26. The Stockdale Paradox

    How To Deal With The Attrition Factor. The Stockdale Paradox is named after the late James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval commander and prisoner of war during the American-Vietna…

    Read More

  27. Embrace Your Fear Of Failure And Uncertainty

    We Celebrate Success And Ignore Failure. Numerous studies have been undertaken on successful people to understand what it was that they did to become so successful, how they did it and when they did i…

    Read More

  28. The Wilderness Years - 3 Keys To An Exit

    How You Got Into The Wilderness Matters Less Than The Lessons To Be Learnt There. The wilderness years can be described as any lengthy time, longer than a year, that is spend aimlessly; without an imm…

    Read More

  29. Boredom – Your Greatest Threat to Results

    We Live In A World That Glorifies The Results And Not The Process. We all know what we should be doing, but the trouble with that is that sooner of later we get bored. The enjoyment fades, the excitem…

    Read More

  30. The Luck Factor - 4 Basic Principles

    You Can Master The Art of Creating Your Own Luck By Mastering 4 Key Principles "The Luck Factor" is the title of a book published 20 years ago based on the research of Professor Richard Wiseman who fo…

    Read More



Get new posts by email:









Zen-Tools.Net





Support This Site