'Habit'. The very word can be cringe-inducing...because it tends to be preceded by the word "bad". And true enough, we all indulge in unhealthy and repetitive behaviours that limit us.
But the cringe is limiting and unnecessary, for the vast majority of habits piggyback our lives with exquisite efficiency. Thanks to habits, we carry out complex activities, we behave professionally, resourcefully, competently, and even kindly. And when a habit is no longer helpful, or when it in fact become harmful, we can change it.
A habit cannot be changed. It cannot be eradicated, according to science's latest understanding of this subject area. Apparently a habit's synaptic circuitry is indelibly burned in the brain. However, a small difference in behaviour, one that is backed by effort and repetition, can create a new synapse and therefore, a new superimposing habit. It is a little like erasing the mark made by a pencil on a piece of paper; the indent remains, but the new mark atop it is stronger and wins the day.
Such is the science of habits, and as 'habitual attitudes' were the focus of April, May and June's Newsletters, we are closing the series by reviewing The Power of Habits, a recent book by the award-winning New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg.
So, if you've been thinking one of your dog-earred attitudes or behaviours deserves the heave-ho, this terrific 'how to do it' book will be a dandy companion and a perfect add-on to your summer reading list.
Read our review of The Power of Habits.