What new habits would you like to have in your life?
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, it’s no surprise to you that human brains fascinate me. I missed my calling and should have been a psychologist in a laboratory pouring over research and brain scans. So just a few chapters into Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, I’m hooked.
Duhigg tells the story of a man who lost a portion of his brain to a virus and because of this, lost his short-term memory. If you were to meet him and have a conversation, 10 minutes later you would be new to him again and he would reintroduce himself to you, the memory totally gone. He could, however, still learn new habits.
Tasks repeated routinely – such as his daily walk or making breakfast – could be completed successfully. This was possible even though he couldn’t tell researchers where he lived or even how to get to the kitchen from another room. He couldn’t explain how or why he did what he did, but he could do these things, nonetheless.
Of course, we’re the same way, too. Why do we choose the same soda every time we are at a vending machine? Sure, at one point we made a conscious decision but now it’s habit. As is how we load the dishwasher. Or the route we run. Or what time we go to bed. Or if we brush our teeth before or after showering. As told in The Power of Habit:
One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.
This is all interesting stuff, but what can it mean for us as individuals? It has me thinking about my habits that exist but also has me contemplating what habits I’d like to create.
Ending where we started, what new habits would you like to create in your life? More on how to do that – and why we would want to – tomorrow.