The Nature Of Habits

“All people are the same; only their habits differ.” – Confucius

A lot of elements of our characters are often expressed unconsciously by our nature and habit. Our character is constituted with thirty per cent nature by birth and seventy per cent habit formed by daily life. Our character is expressed in many characteristics. These characteristics are built up with thirty per cent of our nature and seventy per cent of our habit.

Real world habits often exhibit additional features suggesting they are insensitive to current goals and intentions. Click To Tweet

See you may have been born a slow person. If you were under strict parents and teachers who would not allow you to be slow but compelled you to be quick, it would change, to some extent, the slowness you received by birth. On the other hand, if you are born slow and lived with parents who are also slow, then a habit of being slow would have be built up within you. The slowness you receive by birth would be joined to a habit of slowness to form a character with this terrible characteristic.


However, habits are usually formed from narrowly defined context-response mappings. These mappings are implemented in a manner that is not dependent on a goal or intention.
Real world habits often exhibit additional features suggesting they are insensitive to current goals and intentions.
The reasons I say this are:

  1. People rarely change habitual behaviours for alternative behaviours that meet the same goal. For example switching from a daily jogging habit to cycling.
  2. Habit performance often persists even when the value or relevance of the goal has changed or been achieved. You find yourself still running even after you have lost the 10kg that inspired the daily run.

This happens because our conscious mind hands down tasks to the subconscious mind. Here patterns of behaviour get ingrained and are triggered automatically. That’s the reason we feel habits are automatic and that we have little or no control over them.
When we learn to do a task it gets stored in our subconscious memory database. This is so that we don’t have to learn it all over again every time we need to do it. This is the very mechanics of habits. First, you learn to do something. When you repeat the activity enough number of times, your conscious mind decides to not bother about the task anymore. It is handed over to your subconscious mind so that it becomes an automatic behavioural response. I call this muscle memory.

If a pattern of behaviour can be learned consciously, it can be unlearned consciously too Click To Tweet

You will see this to be true in snipers, sports players, artists, music players. You probably see it in any discipline of life, to be honest.
The key to note here is that habits always start consciously. If a pattern of behaviour can be learned consciously, it can be unlearned consciously too.
Any pattern of behaviour strengthens if we repeat it and weakens if we don’t repeat it. Repetition is food for habits.

when you cease to repeat behaviour, your mind comes to think that it is no longer needed. Click To Tweet

When you repeat a habit, you are convincing your subconscious mind that the habit is a beneficial behavioural response. This means it should be triggered as automatically as possible. However, when you cease to repeat behaviour, your mind comes to think that it is no longer needed. It’s worthwhile to mention that research has confirmed the fact that when our habits change, our neural networks also change.

The point I’m trying to make is that habits are not rigid behavioural patterns that you can’t change. Though habits have a sticky nature, we are not stuck with our habits. They can be changed but first, you need to convince your mind that they are not needed. Habits always serve a need even if the need was not so apparent.
There are ways to change your habits. In this blog, I will do my part in helping you to become a better person through better habits. Stay tuned!