A Habit, the Beginning of Change

Habits have quite a big impact on your destiny and family happiness. Having good habits is welcoming happiness.

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From the moment you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night, you do countless actions. However, you do not worry about how to wash, in what order to wear clothes, and how to use spoons when eating. The body moves before the head because those have grown into habits.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. It is not too much to say that life is a continuation of habits; our daily life consists of various habits such as sleeping habits, eating habits, exercise habits, language habits, driving habits, and consumption habits.

It is said, “We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” When it’s time to wake up in the morning, your eyes open automatically, and if you often shake your legs, you will shake your legs in spite of yourself. Once you have a habit of drinking coffee after meals, it may seem awkward if you skip it. Like this, habits are established over time and have great power enough to change a person’s daily life and even his whole life.

How the brain deals with things easily

Your thoughts and actions make paths in the brain. If you repeat a certain action for a long time, the brain learns how to perform it automatically just as a path is made as many people keep passing through it although they had to clear a path through the thicket at first.

Thanks to habits, you can do many things quickly and efficiently and can develop your skills through habits. Although you found it hard to drive at first, it will become easy by doing it repeatedly. Once you get used to making complicated dishes, you can do it even while talking over the phone.

During conscious actions, the brain consumes glucose and oxygen which are the main fuels supplied to cells. However, there is no space in the brain to store glucose, so it needs a way to save energy. If no habit is formed, the brain has to spend a lot of time and energy, thinking about what to do and how to deal with it each time. A habit is a wisdom of our body to conserve energy.

One Korean TV documentary proved this in an experiment. Two hundred right English words and one hundred misspelled words were mixed and shown to subjects, and the subjects had to distinguish the right words within 0.5 second per word. As a result of Magnetoencephalography (a method of mapping brain activity by measuring magnetic fields generated by the electrical activity of neurons in the brain), the brain of a person who habitually uses English appeared in blue, which means that the brain is less active; and the brain of a person who does not appeared in red, which means the brain is more active.

As for the same action, the brain of the person who does it habitually feels less burdened. So if you want to act naturally and easily as you please, make it a habit. The problem is that the brain cannot distinguish between good and bad habits. Therefore, depending on whether your habit is good or bad, a habit can be a blessing or a trap.

Habits determine destiny

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

This is a quote by Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister. Mahatma Gandhi too said, “Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”

There are good habits, bad habits, and the habits that are neither good nor bad. Although the distinction between good and bad habits varies, depending on personal opinions, good habits usually have positive effects on yourself and others around you.

The habit of listening attentively, the habit of saying hello to others, the habit of cleaning the surroundings, and the habit of being kind to others … These good habits make great character, and also become a compass that leads life in a good direction, helping you to seize an opportunity when it comes. Wouldn’t it be more likely that the employee who habitually picks up trash at the company will win the boss’ favor and be entrusted with important tasks?

It is no wonder that those who made great marks in history had good habits; Tolstoy became a great journalist thanks to the habit of keeping a diary every day; Lincoln left a famous speech thanks to his reading habit; and Helen Keller overcame her physical disability with the habit of giving thanks.

Even one good habit can lead to a dramatic change like a domino effect. For example, if you have the habit of exercising, you will think about your health and change your eating habits and refrain from harmful habits. Also, you will have a willingness to be diligent, so you can wake up earlier in the morning to develop yourself.

Studies show that the habit of making your bed every morning is related to productivity, happiness index, and self-regulation. Making your bed is not a direct cause to make your life happy, but it is certain that a small change forms a virtuous circle and stimulates you to get other good habits.

Change of habits leads to happiness

Bad habits create a vicious circle and take away valuable time from your life, and people will not trust you. What is worse, it is contagious, so it can infect people around you or harm others unconsciously. Bad habits usually lie in the center of the things that you desperately want but cannot accomplish.

Generally, bad habits include overeating, drinking, smoking, wasting, delaying work, being idle, swearing, using a smart phone for a long time, oversleeping, not cleaning, and irritating. If you habitually continue to do things that are bad for you and that look bad in the eyes of others, you will have no choice but to cause misfortune.

This is especially true in a family, the most basic unit of society. There are many couples who divorce as their conflicts deepen due to trivial differences in lifestyle. The habits of leaving used cups unwashed, taking off socks inside out, and sleeping until late on holidays seem trivial, but they cannot be ignored in a family life. When you keep good family relationships, your happiness index is also high. So if you have a habit that causes family conflict, you need to correct it quickly.

Changing habits is easier said than done. However, when you try to change and open a new path by throwing away old, familiar, and comfortable things, you can improve. Instead of saying, “This is what I am,” let us become flexible in mind. Improvement starts from recognizing and acknowledging what habits need to be corrected. And it is better to develop new good habits than to recklessly decide not to do the bad habits. For example, if you have a habit of using a smart phone for a long time, have a reading habit; if you have a habit of complaining, give thanks more to reduce times of complaining.

Good habits quickly disappear if you skip it three times, but you get quickly accustomed to bad habits a third time. Bad habits usually come from chasing things that are easy and comfortable, but good habits need conscious efforts, self-control, and much energy. Therefore, in order to correct bad habits, you must always be alert.

It is even more effective when family members encourage one another and work together to develop good habits. When all family members have the habit of getting up early together, it feels much easier than when doing it alone. When you want to change the habit of watching television for a long time, if someone in your family keeps the television on, your firm will may fade away. Give enough praise to your family’s efforts to have good habits; and as for different habits, try to find the ways to satisfy all rather than forcing the other person to change it.

You cannot change in a day. The present is the result of past habits, and the future is determined by the present habits. Just as small and trivial efforts make a big difference later, change of a small habit causes a huge change in life. Changing means changing habits.

Even contaminated water can be clear if you add clean water little by little. It is important to continue to pour without stopping. Let us drive out bad habits one by one and fill them with good habits. Working out a habit that helps you and your family is the key to living a rich and happy life.