About The Author:
Elle is a Filipina student blogger who’s dedicated to finding happiness, and achieving well-being, in her life. She practices and blogs about mindfulness, self-development, and life teachings in general. Her website, Unpopular Opinions, is a safe space for individuals to share, relate, and navigate through their thoughts and feelings. Unpopular Opinions is somewhere focused on the in-between, the road less-travelled, the unnoticeable, and the unspeakable truths about the wonderful things in the world relating to life, happiness, spirituality, and many more.
Not many of us realise our potential to become human beings who are capable of a lot of things. Even if we did realise that, it won’t be as easy to attain, and surely won’t be as easy to maintain. Self-development is our bridge towards becoming what we aspire to be in life. We continue to improve and be better than we were yesterday, but how exactly do we do that?
There are some tricks that could potentially hasten and empower our self-development process, and many of us often miss those. Those small things we do is what’s frequently being missed, those small things that give either a positive or negative ripple out of our lives.
Well, those small things are called habits. Habits are formed from behaviours as we adapt them to our everyday life. But the thing is, a lot of us don’t realise that it has great power. Our minds are guilty for they are often the reason why we struggle with identifying which habit is helpful and which is not.
In this post, we’ll talk about how establishing a good habit can lead us through our self-development process and better well-being. (We’ll also talk about how we can redirect our bad behaviours into ones that can fully be used at our advantage.)
What are habits and behaviours and what are their roles?
Let’s try and define what habit is, and how they impact us.
According to MacMillan Dictionary, a habit is “something that you do often or regularly, often without thinking about it.” On the other hand, behaviour is an act or response of an individual that usually comes from either an external or internal stimuli. Our habits are formed through our repetitive behaviours.
Our behaviours have the tendency to be innate or genetic, while and our habits are somewhat formed or more adapted than innate. But these two things have one common string. Behaviours can also be modified through experience. (Star and Taggart 1992)
This means that both concepts can be learned.
Our behaviours serve as an important role in forming one’s habits. Our behaviours also reflect our feelings which in turn manifests as our emotions. If we feel angry, it’s more likely that we have negative emotions and establish negative behaviours.
Those feelings are what we call stimuli. It can come externally, from a person’s environment, like an experience you had. Internal stimuli can come from thoughts, ideas, or emotions. It’s important to understand more about how our behaviours are formed in order to assess ourselves and our actions.
Our habits often occur unknowingly, which means that they don’t require much thinking and can come automatically when it is established and done regularly.
Once we have become accustomed to a certain behaviour, it creates a shortcut path in our minds that our body remembers for a long time and we won’t even know that we’re doing things in a certain way. Habits are as good as our knee-jerk reflexes.
How our habits can lead us mindless.
Our habits, when formed from a repeated behaviour, maybe harder for us to change. It doesn’t require willpower or willingness to do, and can therefore lead us mindless. Living our life mindlessly can generate negative habits that may be bad for our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Our routines are a huge factor in what keeps us from improving and possibly learning new helpful habits. Although our habits are beneficial for avoiding inconvenience in some difficult activities as it saves us from using our brains extensively, it can also make our mind skip through some of those critical events happening in our brain, like our decision-making process.
Humans have these habitual ways of thinking that prevent us from thinking too much about what we do. It’s so easy to wake up in the morning and automatically turning on the kettle without having to think of it much. What sucks is that we’re not even aware that we think on autopilot most of the time.
What can happen if we keep on doing this? We can be stuck in a loophole of negativity, depending on the nature of our behaviours. When a person has insomnia due to stress, here’s more likely to sleep late at night. As a result, he may form a habit of waking up late in the morning. This won’t do good if he looks for a job that requires morning meetings, and such.
Are you familiar with the saying, “you can’t train an old dog some new tricks”? For those who aren’t familiar with it, it means that people who have been accustomed to behaving in a particular way cannot discontinue their habits.
Well, what many people don’t know is that you can, actually. But it will require much effort because you have adapted and got used to your established way of thinking and doing. Mindfulness is one way that teaches us to become aware of our actions and help us apply intentions with what we do.
Can they happen overnight? How do they work?
Self-development doesn’t just come from learning better habits. It also comes from correcting those that we have a hard time removing from our system. Sometimes, it’s hard to become aware of those unhelpful ones, and we have to take some effort in breaking them.
70% of what we do is on autopilot. So, it’s understandable that changing and learning new ones are very hard to do. These kinds of things usually don’t just happen overnight. But the good news is, you can start now.
There are simple and easy tips to do if you wake up one morning and decide that you want to change your unhelpful habits into helpful ones. Before we discuss those tips, we first have to get a clearer view of how a habit is formed. In that way, we can figure out where to start.
How habits are formed?
According to experts, habits are driven by three processes: a trigger, routine, and a goal. Triggers are stimuli that tell us to respond in a particular way. This is what sparks you to do something and behave in some way. Routine is the actual behaviour that you do when it’s triggered by the stimuli. And the goal is the outcome that you get from that behaviour.
Over time, we may lose or forget the purpose of our goal, which forms finally a habit. Something that we just do automatically even if we forget our goal.
In our example earlier, what triggers the behaviour of sleeping late at night is the stress that a person experiences. When that behaviour is repeated, it becomes a habit we’ll find hard to overcome later on.
Consciously, you do this, you oversleep because you anticipate a goal of being able to still sleep comfortably despite waking up late. As days go by, you forget your goal and you just oversleep because you couldn’t control anymore the habit that you formed.
Tips to establish good habits.
I have read that creating new habits is better than trying to break one. When we focus ourselves on change, and not on those negative habits, we are actually helping ourselves to change too. But both can be done possibly with time and effort. You can break a habit by forming a new one.
The first step is the most crucial step:
1. Identify what your goal is— What do you want to achieve? Do you want that job interview? What are the steps to achieve your goal?
2. Identify which habits to break and which to keep— You want to change your habit of oversleeping and make a habit of getting up in the morning for more productivity.
3. Understand what triggers your behaviour— Evaluate what makes you stressed: is it your work? the thoughts that give you stress? Being able to identify your triggers can help you change it. Make aware of the thoughts that may give stressful signals.
4. Ponder on your behaviour— To be able to prevent what your trigger makes you do, contemplate why you engage in that trigger. Be mindful about your behaviours and why you do it. If you are aware about the things you ought to do once your trigger sets, you can consciously decide to do something different about it.
5. Keep in mind your goal when you change your behaviour and be kind to yourself— Changing your behaviour may have relapses from time to time. Your new habits are still quite breakable and you must keep in mind the reason why you do what you do now. Take small delicate steps and don’t rush yourself to change. You may have a hard time establishing a habit, that’s why it’s important to have patience and believe that you are capable of changing.
The power in establishing good habits.
Successfully establishing a new habit can leave great, if not better, things for you. You can use a good habit when you want to achieve your dreams or get that job easily and efficiently, even if it makes it difficult sometimes. Self-development is a much longer process– a lifelong one.
Practising the right habit means you are ready to make yourself a better person by learning to do better things in your life. The purpose of a good habit is to help you become accustomed to the things that you believe will help you improve as a person.
“First forget inspiration.Octavia Butler
Habit is more dependable.
Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.
Habit is persistence in practice.”
There is a benefit in a habit and a better benefit when you establish a good one. The human mind works incredibly to make our lives easier and habitual. It’s as good as achieving your goal effortlessly because the habits that helped you achieve it already became a repeated and customary thing for you.
Things it can do for our self-development
Good habits are important for your self-development process because they are the simple components that basically keep us going every day. Our self-development needs powering through in order to achieve better well-being. Our good habits can function as equipment effortlessly doing all the work. And the thing is, we won’t even have to consciously think about it.
Some people focus on ideal principles, usually quite unsustainable ones, like your initial intention to break or make a habit. Intentions may not be reliable all the time. Sometimes, you can lose your intention, but your habits are a part of who you are.
Powerful habits can amazingly change your mindset. It can influence your mind to think for better things too because our minds and bodies are interconnected. It can ultimately change the way that you look towards life.
Your habits can either help you or destroy you in some way. Instead of continuously suffering from an unhealthy behaviour that can hinder you from getting what you want, you can shift your habits into a more advantageous one. I promise you, better outcomes will follow.
Imagine forming a lot of good habits for yourself. You can accomplish so many things in one day, achieve your goals eventually, and even make friends because good habits are very influential. People will see you as someone who has improved and learned from his/her old lifestyle.
Advantages of Having Good Habits.
The advantage of forming good habits is that it doesn’t require much thinking, effort, and willingness to be able to do something. Good habits can also form good manners for you. You can learn how to be more empathetic and understanding, not just for yourself but also for those people that surround you. Good behaviour exhibits good character.
More importantly, it can change a person’s life and his/her view towards it. Those kinds of things go a long way if you ask me.
So, instead of consciously making efforts to achieve better well-being. I suggest using your habits as an edge because there’s power in being able to do things automatically. We just have to find the right ones to nurture.
I feel like a lot of people underestimate how a simple habit can define how we live. Sometimes, these things go unnoticed. We should keep in mind that those small things can go a long way too.
Thank you to Elle for this guest post. Don’t forget to check out her website Unpopular Opinions and check out her social links below.