Archive for the ‘Habits’ Category

To Read Step 1 Click Here

The Golden Rule of Cultivating Habits is this: work on ONE habit at a time. This principle is the foundation of cultivating Good Habits. We must remember this at all times.

In the Step II to good habits we will look into these:

  • Shifting from avoidance of pain to desire for pleasure mode
  • The Example of Getting up Early
  • The Rule of 21
  • Psycho-Cybernetics: Dr. Maxwell Maltz

Shifting from Avoidance of Pain to Desire for Pleasure Mode

Both modes of motivation – avoidance and desire for – work. Let us look closely at them.

The habits we call ‘Good’ – getting up early in the morning, exercising, reading an hour a day, learning a word a day, positive thinking, tolerance, compassion – are essentially beneficial to us. You can add your own list also.

The catch is that they do not produce pleasure immediately. The pain of forming them is greater than the pleasure.

Getting Up Early: How I Did It

I used to get up at 7 am in the morning and I decided to cultivate the habit of getting up at 5 am, the task was uphill. All the benefits, I knew, come after I leave the bed and it is leaving the bed that is painful. You get the point, don’t you?

Getting Up Early: What Did Not Work

This is what I used to do till I discovered the principle of pain and pleasure. I would in fact get up a few times to check the alarm. At times I would switch off the alarm or even change it. Or if it rang, I would simply shut it down. And go back to sleep happily. My guilt would return only after I got out of bed an hour or two later. Then I would vow it would be tomorrow. And tomorrow.

Getting Up Early: What Worked

Now this is what I do and get up joyfully.

I discovered that if I enjoy (pleasure principle) getting up, then getting up is easy. I also found out that getting up in the morning begins the night before as I go to bed.

I repeat to myself that I enjoy getting up. And in  the morning as the alarm rings, I  tell myself that I am enjoying getting up. I roll around telling myself I enjoy getting up. I stretch, twist, bend. I make the entire process of getting up pleasurable.

It takes about 10 minutes and I am up, up and awake.

The Shift to Pleasure Mode

All it takes to shift is this: make the process pleasurable. More often it is the pain in the process that is the biggest hurdle to cultivating good habits. Find your pleasure drives to form good habits.

The Rule of 21

It takes 21 days to form a habit. We all heard that, didn’t we?

I always wondered why. Why 21 days? I looked around knowing well that it is all in the brain. Habits definitely had their origin in the brain.

We discussed earlier in The First Step that habits are formed as a result of  neural pathways in the brain. These are physical pathways which control the way we think, the way we act and often the way we feel.  These paths are like ruts or grooves. They are hardwired, programmed.


Dr. Maxwell Maltz, M.D, F.I.C.S, a world renowned plastic surgeon in his book Psycho-Cybernetics explains: ‘It usually takes a minium of about 21 days to effect any perceptible change…when an arm or limb is amputated the ‘phantom limb’ persists for about 21 days…people must live in a new house for 3 weeks before begins to ‘seem like home’.

Brain circuits form memory traces called engrams and produce neural-connections and neural-pathways only if they are fired for 21 days in a row.

That did put my quest to rest. 21 days to a better me. A renewed me. A rewired me. A revitalized me.

End of Step-II To Read Step 1 Click Here

Step III will discuss these key points:

  • Self -Awareness: The Key to Change
  • Benjamin Franklin Method
  • Self-Talk Method
  • Listing Benefits Method

Step IV will discuss these key points:

  • Og Mangdino Method
  • Meditation Method
  • Visualization Method
  • Affirmation Method
  • Louise Hay Method

Related posts from Affirmative Thinking

The First Step to Cultivate Good Habits

Habits Rule Our Lives

Related posts from the web

Every habit is regulated by neurochemical patterns – Dr.Ajit

Creating New Neural Pathways – Sue Kira

Two Competing Neural Pathways in Your Brain

Related thoughts of Great Men and Women

“Only 10% of us die naturally from old age in our sleep. Another 10% die prematurely from bad luck. The rest of us — all 80% — will kill ourselves with bad habits.” – Dr. Lee Rice

“Thinking is a habit, and like any other habit, it can be changed; it just takes effort and repetition.” – John Eliot, Ph.D.


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John Dryden observed that we first make our habits and then our habits  make us.  How true! Studies have shown that about 45% of our actions are habitual, that our brain consciously processes only 40 out of every 11,000 signals we receive from our senses.

Amazing! Is it not time we realized that our success or our health or our prosperity is based on the habits we form?

This is a three-part article. In the first step to good habits we will look into these:

  • What are Habits?
  • Brain Behind Habits
  • The Principle of Pain and Pleasure
  • What Motivates us: Pain or Pleasure?
  • What Are  Good Habits?
  • How to Cultivate Good Habits

What Are Habits?

The thoughts we think and actions we perform repeatedly become automatic. These automatic thoughts and actions are called habits.

A habit once formed does not involve conscious thought. It becomes automatic. Getting up early, exercising daily, positive thinking, taking the dog for a walk in the morning, writing a diary are all examples of habits. Habits help to perform complex actions easily. Imagine having to learn how to brush the teeth everyday.

The Brain Behind Habits

A habit, any habit, is first a thought, a simple electro-magnetic bio-chemical signal in the brain. This in turn triggers (‘fires’) another brain cell and that activates another brain cell, like a line of falling dominos creating a pattern or a pathway.

Once a pattern is formed, the brain finds it easier to work in the pathway. And with each repetition, the pathway becomes stronger. And a habit is born. This is how the brain forms habits.

It is important to understand this process because change also happens in the brain.

The Principle of Pain and Pleasure

I always wondered what drives us until I understood the principle of pain and pleasure. It is simply this: we are willing to do what we perceive will give us pleasure and are unwilling to do what we perceive will result in pain.

A little analysis shows all our actions are based on the desire for lasting happiness and removal of  pain and want. Our habits – good and bad – are built on this common, universal motive.

This principle is important as cultivating a good habit is about using the right pain-pleasure trigger.

What Motivates us: Pain or Pleasure?

We are in general more motivated to move away from pain than move toward pleasure. In other words, our desire to avoid pain is greater and more intense than the desire for happiness or pleasure.

Take a few seconds to think about it. Let it sink in. Now ask yourself, ‘What motivates me, pain or pleasure?’ Here are a few questions:

  • Do I  go to the office in time to avoid being penalized by the boss or am I on time for the pleasure of being punctual?
  • Do I visit a dentist to move away from my tooth ache or do I visit him twice a year to enjoy healthy, strong teeth?
  • Do I study in order not to fail or do I pursue my education for the pleasure of gaining knowledge and skills and building a great career?
  • Do I work to because I don’t want to be poor or do I work to become prosperous?
  • Do I finish my homework to avoid punishment or for the joy of work well done?
  • Is a God who is angry and vengeful more appealing or a God who loves unconditionally?

Once we learn what motivates us, cultivating a good habit or removing an unwanted habit becomes more streamlined, scientific.

What Are  Good Habits?

Our brain does not know the difference between a good habit and a bad one. So how do we know what is a good one or a bad one?

The answer is pretty simple: Whatever is healthy for the body and is strengthening to the mind is good.

Cultivating Good Habits

In order to cultivate good habits, we have to first identify them. How do we do this? By becoming aware of how strong our strengths are, by noticing what is needed to progress towards our goals, our desires, our aspirations, our dreams.

Once we identify the necessary habits, we can start working on cultivating them.  There are many proven methods. All of them are however based on four indisputable Ds:  Determination, Diligence, Discipline and Drive.

The Golden Rule of Cultivating Habits is this: work on ONE habit at a time.

End of Step I To Read Step 2 Click Here

Step II will discuss these key points:

  • Shifting from avoidance of pain to desire for pleasure mode
  • The Example of Getting up Early
  • The Rule of 21
  • Psycho-Cybernetics: Dr. Maxwell Maltz

Step III will discuss these key points:

  • Self -Awareness: The Key to Change
  • Benjamin Franklin Method
  • Self-Talk Method
  • Listing Benefits Method

Step IV will discuss these key points:

  • Og Mangdino Method
  • Meditation Method
  • Visualization Method
  • Affirmation Method
  • Louise Hay Method

Related posts from Affirmative Thinking

Habits Rule Our Lives

I am today the result of my thoughts

Related posts from the web

Thoughts, Brain and Habits

Habits can be Both a Boon and a Bane to Humans

People are motivated by pain than pleasure

Related thoughts of Great Men and Women

Powerful indeed is the empire of habit – Pubilius Syrus

The skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame – Virginia Woolf

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I can change; I have the will to change; I will change.

Habits in the BrainI am today the result of my habits. My destiny starts with my thoughts and is crafted by habits. My tendencies, moods and desires are born out of my habits. So are hopelessness, despair, failure, anger, fear and worry. And so is excellence.

I watch my thoughts carefully for they are the seeds of habits. And I know that each thought-habit is a mental magnet: Prosperity thought-habits attract wealth; poverty thought-habits draw scarcity.

I perform all actions using right judgment and choice of will and not by the force of habits. I replace wrong habits with right ones and water them with good thoughts and actions.  With tremendous commitment, I keep at it until the positive habit is deeply rooted in my mind.

I take time to consciously sow right habits and weed out wrong habits. And in time, I reap a rewarding destiny!

Related posts from Affirmative Thinking

Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without discipline

Science of Habitual Thinking

Related posts from the web

Scientific information on how we form habits

Recent discoveries about habits

Related thoughts of Great Men and Women

Your brain carves patterns and searches for them endlessly – Thomas B. Czerner

The brain is constantly trying to automate processes, thereby dispelling them from consciousness; in this way, its work will be completed faster, more effectively and at a lower metabolic level. Consciousness, on the other hand, is slow, subject to error and expensive – Gerhard Roth

Today’s revolutionary advances in neuroscience will rival the discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin – Paul Churchland

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit – Aristotle

Habits of thought are mental magnets that attract specific things relative to their kind and quality. Material habits will always bring material results, and spiritual habits attract spiritual results. – Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Habits can be learned and unlearned. But I also know it isn’t a quick fix. It involves a process and a tremendous commitment. Habits have tremendous gravity-pull and breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies involves more than a little willpower and few minor changes in our lives. – Stephen R.Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal. – Marilyn Ferguson

Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny – Charles Reade

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.

Half of the things you do you might as well
Turn over to me and I will do them – quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed – you must be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done
and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of great people,
And the regret of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine but I work with all its precision
Plus the intelligence of a person.

You may run me for profit or you may run me for ruin –
It makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and
I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am Habit.

Picture from Spacesuit Yoga

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