Are habits magic? It seems like we get help from somewhere. When concentrated, committed, and consistent, habits get nature’s attention.
Are Habits Magic?
Habits are like magic. When an act becomes a habit, it gains immense power.
Habits confuse and frustrate us. While good habits take forever to start, bad habits seem to talk hold immediately. Good habits seem impossible to ignite. Bad habits easily stick like magnetic superglue.
Habits are wonderful and horrible. A good practice escorts you easily to your goals, maybe not as quickly as you’d like, but the ride feels smooth and enjoyable. One bad habit can put you on the express train to ruin.
Speaking of trains, starting a good habit is like starting a train. Stopping a bad habit is like stopping a train. The opposites of those statements are false. You can wreck a good practice overnight, and I don’t have to tell you how hard it is to end a bad habit.
How Do Good Habits Make Life Easier?
Assuming the healthy habit eventually takes hold, it doesn’t make life easier. It might make life smoother and provide you more noticeable progress towards your goals, but nothing makes life easier. Conversely, a bad habit will create more challenges.
The Universe (or Nature) says to itself, “Universe–”
I think the Universe calls itself Universe and speaks in red text.
“Universe, this person is serious! Let’s give her a little push. A little energy.”
Although not immediately, when they finally start to stick, habits get nature’s attention. What seems like magic is consistency turning into momentum. Consistency is the key.
Habits are Wonderful
When you’ve been eating well for a few months, the Universe notices and decides to give you a little push. Then you start to feel the energy and see the changes in your physique.
Habits Minimize Thinking
When the practice becomes routine, you don’t struggle to get out of bed and work on your side hustle, meditate, or exercise. You bounce out of bed, likely before the alarm clock wails.
How about if you habitually control your meals’ portion sizes? When the waiter brings your dinner, you automatically separate half the meal to take home and have for lunch the next day.
Direct deposit puts money in savings for you.
You don’t have to think about those things anymore after developing the habit (or the automatic deposit).
Habits Reduce the Need for Willpower
Habits make actions automatic. You don’t have to convince or remind yourself of what you intend to do. When the act is a habit, you do it because it’s what you do.
You do these things that are good for you automatically. Then they start to compound and fire up virtuous circles.
Habits are Horrible
When you’ve been eating junk food for a few months, the Universe notices and decides to give you a little push.
What makes habits horrible is that they’re tricky. One bag of chips doesn’t wreck your health, so you have another.
Then they’re so crunchy…
And you have another.
No one can eat just one.
A habit is born!
Similarly, one bunch of kale doesn’t immediately cure all your ills. It’s pretty bitter and doesn’t give you a sugar rush or a dopamine hit. Thus, you won’t automatically want more kale.
That one run or meditation session doesn’t immediately make you fit and get you off the prescription medications.
That one session of meditation doesn’t immediately make you calm and accepting in stressful situations. The first meditation session can be awkward, so you’re not as likely to try it again.
But if you repeat mediation sessions until it becomes a habit, regaining or remaining calm in stressful situations becomes more effortless and natural.
Habits Minimize Thinking
You can mindlessly hit the snooze button. It’s what your body automatically does every morning. You don’t have to think about it.
The actions are mindless. They bypass your brain, and you do them automatically. You’re not zoning in, but zoning out.
Habits Destroy Willpower
You do those things you wish you didn’t do automatically. The actions become natural, build momentum and make it harder and harder for you to do what you intend to do.
You automatically—mindlessly—do these things that are bad for you. It happens gradually. Then they start to compound and create vicious circles.
Bad habits don’t just force you to use your willpower.
Habit’s Get Nature’s Attention
The habit gets nature’s attention, and she lends a hand.
Or, the habit gets the universe’s attention, and it lends a hand.
Nature vs. The Universe
Which sounds better? I like “Habits get the Universe’s attention,” but “Universe’s” is awkward to say and write.
Then you get into the complicated question of whether or not to capitalize the word universe. I didn’t capitalize it there because I wanted to be inconsistent with the rest of the post. Consistency is essential in the capitalization of the word universe, and I’m a rule breaker.
There’s that word consistency again.
The capitalization rules are confusing, mainly since it depends on the multiverse [see references].
“Habit’s get nature’s attention” flows better, but it’s not as cosmic as “Habit’s get the Universe’s attention.”
Vote for your favorite by tweeting it: Universe vs. Nature.
Question: What good habit makes your life easier?
- The cumulative effects of small habits compounded consistently over time are enormous. The Compound Effect is potent.
- Wikipedia calls them “complex chains of events,” but I don’t think it has to be complex. We can learn how to use habits to create virtuous circles.
- Have you ever looked up and wondered, “How did I get here?” You suddenly realize your health, finances, or relationship is wrecked. Read on to see how to prevent ruining your happiness “gradually, then suddenly.”