When was the last time you evaluated your habits?
This is the question I asked myself a few weeks back and surprisingly, I never actually sat down and analyzed my habits. I know I shouldn’t be surprised as most of us just ignore the habits we have and only think about few of them when someone points it out.
Habits are an integral part of our lives, and it plays a primary role in defining us. However, habits go unnoticed, and there are so many habits that you have, and you don’t even know they exist.
Habits are repetitive actions programmed in the subconscious mind
Think of things that you have repetitively performed every single day, within a few weeks it will become your habit. Our brain is smart enough to move repetitive tasks to our subconscious mind, and these tasks usually require triggers and voila, you will perform the action without even thinking about it.
Depending on the trigger and reward, your mind will make the habit deeply embedded in your subconscious. This is the primary reason why you are unable to get rid of these habits.
Think of the habit of smoking. The reward that you feel when you smoke is something that the brain likes a lot. And the more you smoke, the deeper this liking will embed. At one point this habit will be so deeply embedded that if your brain doesn’t get the reward, it manifests that in physical and mental craving.
Cravings make it difficult to change the habit
The cravings are what makes it even more difficult for you to break the habit. This applies to any habit.
Take for instance social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are habit hellholes. You will create a habit of impulsively checking social media without any reason. The worst part is that people don’t realize that they have developed this habit where their brain needs the reward it gets from pointlessly browsing through social media.
If you don’t check these sites on your phone, you will start feeling restless. Your mind will crave for it!
Habits are neither good nor bad, they are just workflows
You might have noticed that when talking about smoking or social media, I didn’t classify them as good or bad, and I have strong reasoning for this.
See, habits are just programs, workflows, that are created to simplify your life.
Think of habits it as an algorithm. Now, there are inputs and depending on what conditions are satisfied, the next step will be chosen.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I am saying that smoking is good. It is not, but it is not the habit that is good or bad, it is the action that is good or bad.
The action of smoking is bad, but the habit is just a workflow created to simplify your action!
Our mind doesn’t discriminate between a good or bad action, it just provides us with the best way to simplify the routine of performing that action. In short, our mind is just a tool.
A tool doesn’t discriminate whether it is going to be used for good or bad. For example, a surgical knife is used to save lives, but it’s a tool that can also be used to take a life!
Choose your actions wisely, the habit will follow
So, if the habit is just a workflow, then it is not essential to focus on the habit. If you focus on the habit, you have the wrong approach.
Instead, you should focus on the action. Because only the action will matter. So if you choose a good action, it will benefit us, and if we choose a bad one, it will harm us.
But if you focus on the action, how will you develop the habit?
Simple, you don’t need to, your mind will do it for you. When you start thinking of your mind as a tool, you will start to realize the true potential of the mind and what it can achieve.
Having said that, like any other tool, even the mind requires practice. You cannot expect to utilize your mind to work for you without practice. And, like any other tool, you start with small things, the basics.
Start experimenting with small actions and see how fast your mind develops the habit to perform that action. Once you do that, you keep going with small actions and gradually increasing the complexities of the actions.
It will take time but you will start becoming a master of your mind and could create a habit for any action just like that.
This is for habit creation. The same can be applied to break down existing habits. You start small, keep practicing, and soon enough you will start transforming your habits.
Remember, your mind and body are tools, how you use them to your benefit is up to you!