A habit is an established path created by the brain. Creation of a habit requires a routine affair.
As a matter of habit, it is not unusual for you to reach out for your mobile as you wake up in the morning. And then, later in the day. And perhaps multiple times during your work and leisure hours of the day. Even take a last look before you sleep.
The mobile has become a habit. Those who are in their gorgeous years of 40s, 50s or 60s, did not grow up with cell-phones, email, google or Facebook but social media is a habit even for them.
It is interesting to know how habits are formed and how we succumb to them. Why it is easy to embrace some habits, whereas hard to accept others. Why some habits are difficult to quit or replace but few others gloriously, dance their way in. And some are accepted through conscious work.
Habits are routine affairs of the brain. Habits are created for the ease of the brain functioning. When habits are formed, the brain can relax without having to tax itself with the effort of repetitive work. The brain likes repetition of work because then the energy expended is less. The brain wants to use that saved energy into experiencing, new experiences; it likes new thrills, new engagements of pleasure.
Habits allow brain to conserve the energy of re-working for the same task and instead, use that energy for other sweeter pursuits.
Why is it difficult to change a habit? Undoing a habit is a mental exercise. The brain doesn’t like to do the hard work. It resists to shift to a new habit especially when it sees that the action is without any fruit of pleasure. Any new habit gets the brain to fatigue, especially when the body is not receiving any reward or pleasure. Making a new habit is easy when the fruits of labour are more than labour itself.
Habits are stored in the brain; however, the imprints of habits, meaning, the essence of habits, are stored in the etheric realm. Any new habit formation is acknowledged by the non-physical realm and hence, related consequences follow.
Changing a habit
Habits can be changed. They can be changed by intention, action, motivation, focus, will- power and repetition of all of these. Repetitions build habit.
One of the most effective ways to bring in a new habit is to change the thought pattern. Think of the benefits, the desires of the end result. If you desire the result enough, you will be ready to do the work. The brain asks for results.
It doesn’t like doing a work, without knowing what result the new habit will accomplish. The brain also has to like the end result. If it doesn’t, the body won’t move.
For example: What benefit will non-smoking bring? The brain wants to know that. Will the benefits be greater than the pleasure derived from smoking? What is the brain’s motivation to do the work switching from being a smoker to a non-smoker? If your brain is convinced that non-smoking has bigger benefits, it will be ready to do the work.
Remember though, there is a difference between knowing benefits and believing in them. The hard work is the believing part, not the knowing part. Believing happens when results are seen or experienced. In changing a habit, there will be physical and mental challenges to go through. The patterns of habit are intoxicating in themselves. As articulated earlier, any change is an excruciating task for brain as it has to adjust and re-adjust. When it does so, it uses a lot of energy.
The body feels fatigued as a result. When the fatigue-ness of the process is overcome, the rhythm of change comes back. In this process of change, the brain needs to overcome the exhaustion to keep the momentum of change. The brain wants to save energy and not expend it. It wants new experiences, and doesn’t want to re-work on which it has worked and expended energy before.
So, when one keeps challenging the routine, it will be easier to change a habit. Believing can also be brought through the power of imagination. When you imagine that you have already shifted a habit, and experience the imagination by living in the state of being it (as if the change has already happened), the mind accepts this change as true and believes it.
So, between the desire of change and living the imagination of change, imagination wins.
The next part of this article will look at the six-step process of changing a habit, as well as benefits of having habits. Stay tuned.
Disclaimer: Urmila Rao is a chakra balancing meditation coach, Theta Healer and a sound therapist. All the ideas expressed herein are her own and not professional advice or medical prescription. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.