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Habits Are More Important Than We Realise

1380 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Phantasm
I've always skipped over this section as well-meaning but pointless. After all, great problems require great solutions, right?

I've just finished reading a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it talks about how big changes are not made by big efforts - it just appears that way.

In fact, big changes are the long-term result of many tiny, manageable and achievable behaviours - all the 1% improvements here and there. Little habits that we can achieve, right now, can lead to a growth of related habits we didn't think we were capable of down the line.

It's not about results, it's about who we want to be and being that way in all sorts of small ways throughout the day. Habits define our identity, just as our identity guides our choice of habits.

As such, this hugely effects mental health. "How would someone without depression act today?" The repetition of habits becomes proof of who we are.

Currently my daily ones are:

Touch toes
Open book file
Open art file

Doesn't sound like much, does it? But touching toes requires a warm up with leg swings, which leads to a general workout. (One good habit leads to another related one.)
Opening my book and art files each day, without any other requirement, typically leads to me writing a line or doing a bit of drawing.(Just establishing the small habit of opening the files every day leads to everything else).
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Einstein had a wardrobe of identical suits so he wouldn't have to think about what to wear. That was his habit, and I don't think he was a dull and unawakened mind.
If you make the things you need to do habitual, it frees you for other things. That was the point I was making with that example.
Then you'll be the guy who stares at walls.

It's better to stare at goats ;)
coolwhip, if I understand rightly, it sounds like you are making a distinction between habits and learning, but I wasn't making that distinction as they both follow the same process. At first we practice something deliberately and consciously, until it becomes automatic and unconscious. If this didn't happen, we would not even be able to stand up, let alone walk or drive a car. The complexity of mechanical actions would be too much. When someone is learning to drive a car, at first their actions are slow, deliberate and awkward, but once they can operate it quickly and automatically they can direct their attention to where it should be, which is on the road. If they had to think about everything they were doing, they would not be watching where they were going or be able to react in time if there is danger.

However, you do make a point about doing things too unconsciously, and there is a chapter in the book which discusses this. At first repetition develops fluency, speed and skill, but once it becomes automatic you can become insensitive to feedback and stop paying attention to bad practice. In which case he simply suggests you use a combination of automatic habits and deliberate practice.
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I completely respect your viewpoint. Sorry if I came off pushy in a bad way.
No, not at all, I didn't think you were being pushy! :)
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