The Never-Ending Inertia of Habits

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about habits. I think most of us have it wrong about habits. We think of habits as these little behaviors we intentionally build into our own selves when the need arises.

While we may think that habits are intentionally formed, habits are more often unintentionally formed. Things like getting french fries on the way home from the office, planting yourself in front of the TV for hours at a time, and hitting the snooze button are all habits unintentionally formed. The unintentional ones are the most insidious because they check all the habit boxes (cue, craving, response, reward) without the human being conscious of them arising.

Then one day, you wake up and realize you can’t stop eating french fries. You waste way too much of your time in front of the television. You can’t get out of bed in the morning. And you don’t know why.

Put simply, habits are always forming. The train never stops. Perhaps even more important than being intentional about forming new habits is being aware of all the habits you have already formed, many of which are self-destructive. I have tried to pull this intentionality to the front by making a list of all habits I’m observing in myself (some good, lots bad) and then trying to rewire myself where appropriate. This will take a while, but awareness is definitely the first step.