A habit is an inclination a person develops over time that leads to repetitive patterns of behavior or thought. A habit is usually a subconscious or automatic action, such as biting finger nails or chronic procrastination that one feels a lack of complete control over. Such routines can be very difficult to overcome, as they are usually firmly ingrained in our thoughts and actions through repetition over a long period of time.
Most people have a variety of good habits, such as healthy eating or a daily exercise routine and bad habits like overspending or sleeping in late. The good news is that it is possible to eliminate bad habits and develop healthy ones through lifestyle changes and perseverance.
Good habits can be developed by simply engaging in your desired behavior consistently for several weeks. Eventually, the amount of sheer willpower needed for, say, that morning jog can be reduced as the mind becomes used to a new routine. The key to making something second nature comes from forcing the change you desire until the body adapts on its own. Developing a good habit can take as little as a few weeks of concentrated effort.
Breaking a bad habit works in a similar fashion. If you can manage to avoid an undesirable part of your daily routine long enough, such as eating desert if you’re watching your weight, the inclination will eventually fade over time on its own. Unlike attempting to cultivate a good habit, though, further lifestyle changes may be required to break a bad one. Our habits are often triggered by other events in our lives which may also need to be avoided in order to minimize temptation. If, for example someone is trying to avoid buying donuts with their morning coffee on the way to work, a good way to avoid temptation is simply brewing coffee at home instead.
We are not doomed to be prisoners of our habits or routines. Healthy lifestyle changes are a matter of becoming the change you desire, and weathering the period of discomfort through willpower, knowing that in time the mind and body will adapt.