breaking habits


I’m tired of reading and thinking about HABITS,” Pamela Hobart, who describes herself as a philosophical life coach, tweeted recently. “I don’t have habits. I am not a person of habit. Not before, not now, not ever.”

I assume she meant before the pandemic: the coronavirus crisis has seen a massive escalation in the self-help sector’s pre-existing obsession with habits, schedules, rituals and routines, as they’re apparently key to remaining sane in uncertain times. Unlike Hobart, I am a creature of habit. But her tweet made something click: it dawned on me that I’ve never – like, not once – successfully eliminated a bad habit, or inculcated a good one, by consciously trying to do so. Have you?

It’s possible you have. After all, a large body of research suggests it’s doable (even if many of those studies really just show you can change your behaviour for a few weeks if researchers are constantly prodding you). But I struggle to think of anything healthy or positive I do regularly that isn’t a) a natural inclination; b) trained into me since childhood, like brushing my teeth; or c) the only reasonable response to my situation at that moment. I make my son’s breakfast most mornings, but not because I “made it a habit”. I could claim I do it from love, or duty, but really I do it because it’s breakfast time.

Which is, of course, the point…

Source: Want to ditch a bad habit? Then just take it one day at a time | Oliver Burkeman | Life and style | The Guardian