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Why Habits Matter

A note before we begin: “We are what we repeatedly do.” While this quote is normally attributed to Aristotle, it is in fact from Will Durant´s book, “The Story of Philosophy.” It´s Mr. Durant´s attempt at capturing an Aristotelian sentiment and therefore, not a direct quote.

Why Habits Matter:

Habits create the intricate patterns that shape who we are. The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once proclaimed, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

The Essence of Aristotle's Wisdom:

Aristotle's insight suggests that habits, whether small or significant, shape our lives. For instance, if we consistently engage in acts of kindness, we become compassionate individuals; if we cultivate a habit of learning, we become knowledgeable and perhaps even wise.

Habits are the automatic behaviors we engage in daily, often without conscious thought. A study performed at Duke University estimated that up to forty percent of our daily activities are based on habits. They are the building blocks of our routines, influencing our thoughts, actions, and decisions. Whether positive or negative, habits play a pivotal role in shaping our identity – more on this later.

A habit is: The intentional consistent act that eventually becomes the automatic unconscious response.

Something becomes a habit when the brain forms neural pathways that strengthen with repetition, (known as neuroplasticity) making the performance of certain actions more automatic over time. This neurological phenomenon underscores the importance of consciously cultivating positive habits to reshape our neural pathways for the better.

Neurons that fire together, wire together.

Here are few tips to help establish new habits:

Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives and break them down into actionable steps (get a plan). This clarity will guide your efforts and keep you focused.

Start Small: Begin with manageable changes that are easy to incorporate into your routine. (1% improvement/progress)

Consistency is Key: Repetition is the bedrock of habit formation. Consistently practicing a behavior reinforces its neural pathways. (practice, perseverance, and patience)

Accountability: Share your goals with others or keep a journal to track your progress. Having external accountability can significantly enhance your commitment. (two are better than one)

Be Patient: Habits take time to develop. Patience and persistence are crucial as you work towards positive change. (practice, perseverance, and patience)

As I mentioned earlier, there is a correlation between identity and habits.

Our habits also play a significant role in forming who we are as individuals. If we consistently engage in positive actions, we are more likely to develop a positive character. On the other hand, if our actions are consistently negative or harmful, our character may reflect that negativity.

The relationship between habits and identity implies that our identity is not fixed but is rather a result of ongoing processes and choices. It highlights the potential for personal growth and development through conscious and positive habits.

In essence, our identity is not solely determined by our innate traits but is also shaped by our behaviors and the patterns we establish in our lives. By cultivating positive habits and consistently making choices aligned with our values, we contribute to the construction of a positive and authentic identity.

Here´s to discovering a happier healthier you in 2024!

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