Most of us spend some of our time on social media, almost every day. We all come across a lot of content, at least once, such as “The Daily Routines of the World’s Smartest People”, “How Many Hours a Day the Forbes’ Rich People Sleep”, “What You Need to Add to Your Routine for a Successful Business Life”. So, what is the common theme of these contents? For example, can we say efficiency brought by habits? I think we can say. So let’s talk about habits today. I can assure you, there will be no such article just as “What did Einstein eat for breakfast?” or “How many times a day does Jeff Bezos brush his teeth?”.
After this not-so-cool introduction, we’ll take a closer look at the concept of habit, which we’ll be thinking about today. At the end of the content, I aim to answer some of the questions in your mind and make you question yourself.
Habit or Desire?
Are we aware of the meaning of the concept we call habit or is it just a word that we cannot explain as in other concepts but we know it automatically from within? Our question has almost the same answer as the question of “what is a habit?”. In this case, as a definition of habit; We can say that it is a set of actions or discourses that perform mechanically and regularly without having to think about it or make a decision.
If we go through the definition, we said mechanics, but what provides these mechanics? For example, the act of eating is a daily, routine activities. That’s why we don’t think about it. We get hungry and we eat. If we don’t think about it, then how does this feeling of hunger or the desire to eat occur?
According to scientists, habits have emerged so that the brain can spend less effort. In this way, the brain saves energy by turning it into a habit of not thinking about daily routine actions such as walking and eating. In this way, we humans do not have to think about everything, since we have more thinking areas, we can make discoveries, develop games, produce content, in short, we can focus on things that can increase our brain curves because we do not think about small things.
First of all, I want to touch on the most important point. Our habits are not destiny (Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habits). We have the ability to manipulate and change them as we wish. But there is another point we should not forget; After gaining the habit that we direct or unconsciously acquire, the brain starts to work less. Because he knows what to do in this routine systematically and as long as we ensure continuity, he no longer needs to use the decision mechanism.
There is also a good side to this; The brain, which no longer thinks about routine action, may turn to other tasks during this action. For example, listening to podcasts while walking. Walking is a routine activity, so the brain does not need to operate its mechanism for it, since it does not, we can operate the mechanism to listen to podcasts.
Infinite Chain of Habits
We said that we can change and direct habits as much as we want. But we didn’t talk about the disappearance of what we used to have. Even though we add new ones on top of the old ones, the old ones continue to exist in our brain in a coded form. We can think of it as riding a bike. So, if we could erase our old habits, we’d have to learn to ride all over again every time we got on the bike. Imagine if you didn’t eat for three days and when you strayed from your meal routine, you forgot to eat and you had to learn it like learning a new language…
Therefore, routines that vary from person to person and are sometimes thought of as bad habits actually stay there, even if they are changed. I think this explains why we start dieting again every month, the ice cream container we come across in the kitchen calls us when we take action to create a healthy eating routine, or the social media captivates us every time we want to develop a habit of reading a book.
Of The Habits (2012) by Natalia Bruno
Let’s imagine that the part of our brain that controls the routine area is damaged or, hypothetically, routines are out of our lives. Then, when we want to get air, we experience indecision even over actions such as opening a window or checking our message box, and instead of thinking about atomic physics, we may be unable to do even these simple activities.
Management Mechanism of Life
A paper published in 2006 suggested that our habits make up more than 40 percent of our daily behavior.
William James, years before this research (in 1892), said, “Our whole life is but a pile of habits.” expressed as. Actually, in a way, I can say that it is a correct thought. They are so powerful that we can direct our lives according to them. We drink coffee, and this act of drinking coffee is a habit we like to do while smoking, as a result, we think of smoking while drinking coffee. It’s actually not a requirement. It doesn’t make any sense, but this action, which we love to do at first, turns into a routine after a while and creates a feeling of obligation.
We can give an example of processed, refined sugar consumption in the same way. In fact, our body does not need white refined sugar, but when we think of a dessert we love, we crave it. Actually, we do not crave dessert, we want the sensation of that sugary taste.
I want to talk about my sister as an example. She was a sweet addict. Her life was about eating sweet things for so many years. Of course, this sweet depiction was candies or chocolates made with white refined sugar. Then, suddenly, she researched herself and discovered the harms of refined sugar. She read about the beautiful changes that can occur in her skin when she takes it out of her life. She then created a routine in which she removed refined sugar from her life, requesting a reward (a healthy life and beautiful skin).
I can say that creating a routine is a method of thinking that is described as easy, but becomes challenging when put into practice. However, when we change even the smallest routines in our lives, I think it will not be that difficult if we think of it as a system that we get more efficient or that we love more.
As an answer to the question of desire or habit, I say that desire is targeted as a reward and turned into a habit.
Free Will and Routine
So where is free will in that if everything is automatic?
According to Kant, habits are meaningless on the moral point. He defended the view that habits are internal and mental requirements, and argued that it is absurd because it destroys free will.
I’ll leave this section barren like this, and drop it to explain in my next free will post.
Now is the time to reflect on our routines… Thank you for your patience.
Duhigg Charles, Alışkanlıkların Gücü, Ekim 2012