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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Chains of a Habitual Life - Rex Chimex

Habit is second nature.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Habitual means doing something regularly, repeatedly-practicing or acting in some manner by force of habit.
Now you can see that that having a particular habit gives one the visa to acquiring a habitual life. It’s true we have all heard of the word “Habit” right from kindergarten, but it would be of great importance if we revisit that word “Habit”.

According to the Wikipedia, a habit (a wont) is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously, that is without one knowing. It thus becomes a custom – a way of life, of a particular individual. Thus, the process by which new behaviors become automatic is habit formation and at this junction, one is said to have acquired a habitual life.
Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our brains (the seat of reasoning). But it is possible to form new habits through repetition and constant practice.

Before one acquires a habitual life, it’s not a rapid process; it usually takes place at a very slow pace, without the individual knowing that he/she is forming a habit, until it becomes obvious. But my candid advice is that you acquire a good habit and not a bad habit. 

As the habit is forming, it can be analyzed in three phases.
  • The Cue
  • The behavior
  • The reward

-The Cue (phase 1)
The cue is what triggers off the habit; it’s the genesis of the habitual life. Thus, a habit is started by something very influential, depending on the individual and the amount of impact it has on the person’s life. The cue is what makes the habit to come about; this could be anything that one’s mind associates with. It could also be as a result of what you hear.

Example (story-1)
Alex and Philip are very close school friends. And one day, Philip visits Alex and tells him that he won one million naira recently. Just by betting hundred naira at a betting shop, Alex was shocked, one million!! He shouted, “Yes” Philip replied.
From the example above, you can see that Alex is being introduced into the betting world, without him knowing, and the trigger (cue) was what he heard “One million”, a huge amount of money he thought.

-The behavior (phase 2)
The behavior is the actual habit that one exhibits after encountering the trigger (Cue). The individual works towards achieving the effects of the trigger.

Example (story continuum-2)
“Do you think it’s possible for me to bet today?” Alex asks Philip. Yeah its possible Philip replied. Okay, let’s rush to the betting shop, who knows? God might bless me as well, Alex said optimistically.
And immediately, they rushed out to the betting shop down the street and the act is done.
Sometimes, we battle with our conscience when we are trying to start a new behavior and then we say, lets allow it only once. And after, we see ourselves repeating the same behavior over and over again. It becomes an obsession especially when it’s an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.

-The reward (phase 3)
The reward can be a positive or negative feeling or achievement. But for a habitual life to flourish and be encouraged, a positive feeling or achievement supports it, so as to generate a “habit loop” – that means one keeps doing a particular thing over and over again simply, because of the reward.

Example (story continuum-3)
“Wow!! Philip! , Alex shouted in wild excitement, as Philip picks his phone call.
Did you know? I won half a million, Alex said.
Wow!!  Alex! This calls for a celebration, for brighter days head – Philip replied.

Effect of the habitual loop: (story continuum-4)
At this point, Alex mentality about education has changed.
Why should I go to school? Since I can make cool cash through betting, After all its money everyone is struggling for. He said to himself, trying to encourage his new habit.
Alex became unserious with his studies and became very serious with betting. He became the most active customer at the betting shop that he was mistaken by new visitors to be the owner of the betting shop. He could no longer bat an eyelid without thinking of betting. He felt money was everything and left his personal development unattended.

Even though he losses sometimes, but betting is now his obsession. At this junction, asking him not to bet is like playing the devil advocate.
A habit may initially be triggered by a goal, but overtime that goal becomes less necessary and the habit becomes more automatic. 
Hence habits can either benefit or hurt the goals a person sets for themselves.

-What you WANT/WATCH/HEAR often, 
You think of (the CUE)
-What you THINK often,
You act on (the BEHAVIOUR)
-What you ACT often, 
You become (the REWARD)

Prevention of a Habitual Life:
  • 1)    Having the ideology that there is time for everything under the sun, is a great knowledge. Doing one thing and leaving the others makes you lag behind in those areas – that doesn’t mean you should be a Jack of all trade. But trying to do what you are supposed to do at the right time and at the right place halts every form of acquiring a habitual life.

  • 2)    Beware of the friends you keep, your peer group; they can be the main agents in leading you to form bad habits. Instead have friends who introduce you to good habits that are more beneficial. Beware! The friends you keep can make or mar you.

  • 3)    Be a man or woman of strong will, being formidable and resolute in decisions and being able to control the affairs of life and not the other way round, which is the affair of life controlling you.

  • 4)    Most people want to be free of a particular habit, but they don’t ever sit down to think about their lives. Bringing out time to critically examine your life is very beneficial, so as to be able to identify the loopholes and try amending your life.

  • 5)    When people criticize you, try to know why, because most times when one is forming a particular habit, good people around might try to intervene. Maybe at the phase 1 or 2 of the habitual loop and if that individual does not see reasons with them or accept to listen to other people views, then the loop continues.

Article Written by: Muoka Chibuzor
First written on: 22/5/16
Email author: rex@rexchimex.com
Send the author an email containing your views and suggestions.

  •  Merriam-Websters Dictionary
  • Wikipedia (Habit)

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