New beginnings and the power of habit

September—the word, to me, is a calling-to-attention for my brain. After allowing said brain to go fallow for most of the summer, September re-snaps my focus. Forward momentum rolls on new beginnings.

This year in particular the “new beginnings” theme resonates with many of my friends and acquaintances. With the whir of the passing of time come new retirements, new jobs, new universities, new courses, new living arrangements, new projects  or new health challenges. Around me friends and acquaintances thrive or survive in changing circumstances, finding ways to fill empty spaces or empty full spaces. Like unicycle riders, afraid, excited, overwhelmed or uncertain, they hold arms out for balance and find a way to peddle forward.

9780385669757In such times, the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg comes to mind. At times of upheaval we need to mindfully form or change our habits to shape our days in the most positive way.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg breaks down the three-step loop: Cue, Routine, Reward. A habit is triggered by an external cue (a particular location, a time of day, a certain mood, other people, or an activity), the external cue sets a routine in motion, and at the end, we receive a reward. For example, an alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., a person puts on jogging clothes and goes for a run, and then enjoys the runner’s high and a strawberry smoothie. Or, at 3:00 p.m. every workday, a person, bored and restless, leaves the desk and visits the vending machine for an afternoon chocolate bar boost.

Many of our habits serve to sustain us as we navigate daily life. Putting on our clothes, making our toast, or driving our cars requires a series of habits. The first time we do any of these, we think through each step. Cued by a feeling of cold, a hunger, or a need to get from one place to another, we work through every step of managing buttons, setting the right toast preferences and backing out of the garage. Eventually these routines become automatic “habits,” so our brain doesn’t need to think about them anymore. In other words, we need habits or our brains would be overwhelmed. “Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.”

Because habits are so necessary, and because our brains are constantly seeking to create new ones, habits have a powerful influence over our lives. And once a habit takes root, it doesn’t disappear. Duhigg writes: “. . . unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.”

What it means for us? We can examine our daily lives, identify our habits, figure out which ones serve us well and which ones could bear re-routing, especially during this autumn time of new beginnings.

 

Advertisements

About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on September 20, 2016, in Arlene Smith, Arlene Somerton Smith, How do you define success?, Inspiration, Living life to the fullest, reading and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have 4 children starting University studies this fall. That’s pretty exciting. I will have a new class of workplace English as a Second Language students, so that’s kind of exciting too, but I am going to give some thought to my routine of habits and see which ones I want to keep and which ones I might try to replace. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Yellingrosa's Weblog

Poetry, Visual Arts, Music and IT Tech

wordsthatserve

Breathe, read...smile

simplisticInsights

Simple made easy! psychology love feeling emotion thought behaviour success strategy

Diary Of A Growing Black Man

Personal website sharing life experiences and vision

Jay Colby

Life, Inspiration & Motivation

Health Sources

Health , Beauty and Food

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

Reverend Erin

Thoughts on Ministry from a First-Time Minister

Mill Street Books

Almonte's bookstore carries books, music, family games, gifts and more.

Becoming...

"Every day is a great day to make a joyful noise!"

simple Ula

I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?

Bliss B4 Laundry

Inspirational Events for Mind, Body & Soul + Ontario's Best Wellness Weekends for Women

SarveshG

Spread love before hate conquers.

Kone, Krusos, Kronos

A personal forum to express ideas, experiences, stories, etc.

deepakdheer

Just another WordPress.com site

matter of life and death

- perceptions from a widow's perspective

%d bloggers like this: