Are we defined by our habits?

   I received this book called Daily Rituals by Mason Currey as a gift from my wife and I just read a few pages. It’s a book with the daily habits (rituals) that people like Voltaire, Mozart, Benjamin Franklin and many others had. I knew that our habits are important, but how important?

   Two or three years ago I went to a seminar about how to grow your business (I had a business back then) and I remember something the speaker said:

   “Let’s say you have a big tree you want to cut but you don’t have enough time to do it. But if you go 30 seconds before work and pick up your ax and you give 5 hits to that tree, the question that rises is not if that tree will go down, but when it will go down.” – Lorand Soares Szasz (the speaker)

   I took two lessons from here. The first one is that if you really want something, you’ll somehow find the time for it, and the second one is that whatever we do daily has a long term impact. It is similar to the things we consume each day. If we eat junk food every day, we’ll have health problems eventually. If we drink alcohol every day, it will come the time when our liver goes for a walk and dies before we do. This applies to what actions we do daily, too. If we go to the gym daily, we’ll probably have a healthy body. If we listen to positive things daily, we’ll have eventually a positive mindset. If we watch movies daily, we’ll eventually become movie experts and so on.

   There is no need to do big things each day because it can get exhausting. Instead, we can do little things every day. For example, if you want to write a book, you can write one page per day and eventually the entire book will be written. If you want to learn to play the guitar, you need to learn the notes and practice every day.

   It seems that whatever we do on a daily basis defines what we will have in our future. Of course, there is the unpredictable aspect which can interfere with everything, but it’s mostly based on our habits. This is why practicing gratitude daily is so powerful. We get a daily kick about how beautiful our life is.

   How important do you think our habits are?

68 thoughts on “Are we defined by our habits?

  1. I completely agree with all of this! However, as I was reading it I felt frustrated with myself as I knew if I tried to adopt this approach I would get impatient. I’d want to write the whole book in 4 days, I’d go to the gym for an hour every single day and push my body to the max! Which is ridiculous. If you could write a post about patience that would be greatly appreciated lol!

    1. I know how you feel. I’d like that to happen too, but it won’t. I’ll do some research about patience and one day I’ll prepare a post! 😀

  2. I’m a big believer in the power of daily habits, even small ones can make a big difference.

    Every morning I force myself to write down three things I’m grateful for and three reasons to feel good about myself. If I’m having a bad day it might be full of expletives and gratitude for stupid things, like bacon, but I have noticed a shift in my attitude over time and I believe it’s partly due to that simple morning habit. That, and meditation.

    1. That’s awesome! It is very recommended to practice gratitude daily and meditation as well because it can make a huge difference in our daily lives.

  3. Amazing, so inspiring. Thanks for putting up writing a ,so easy. I Always wanted to writer a book but, thought I’ll never have time for it… thanks for inspiring…
    And thanks for liking my post. I hope I can also inspire people with my blog. Plz do follow my blog. Regards.

  4. I try to avoid habits but rather wake up in the morning, determine what needs to be done at that time and ways of doing it… I believe that acquiring habits is sometimes referred to as “being in a rut”… 🙂

    “No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond his reach who equips himself with patience to achieve it.” Jean de La Bruyere

      1. When dealing with life’s challenges and social pressure, one has a tendency to not realize how strong one can be… I believe that guidelines are a bit different than habits… 🙂

        “When you are truly inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project… your mind transcends its limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world! Then those dormant forces, faculties and talents inside you become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali “

      2. I see… well, I guess that explains why I do not have any habits, I have no guidelines.. 🙂 here on the path we “play it by ear” or “wing it”…it adds adventure to life… life without adventure is like sitting in a roller coaster that doesn’t move, right? 🙂

      3. DM you have the right nothing like a book I just don’t like it I’ve worked with veterans with mental illness and regular people with mental illness I’ve seen the worst of the worst so if you have any questions feel free to contact me thank you William

      4. What is the most common mental illness veterans have and how did you do to make their pain more bearable?

      1. > What’s wrong with coffee!!!?

        – What’s wrong with drugs? What’s wrong with abstinence syndrome?

        I don’t like drugs, the way they “works”. Being a free man is a better than some-addict.
        I don’t want to buy minutes of cheerfulness for hours of depression.

        I know, some like sweets, some weeds, some coffee, some – tea.
        I’ts not my business. I want to be a little be more free person.
        For me it is the problem.
        For example I have no wine addiction. Or tv addiction. I am not a saint but removing one or two bad habits would be always better for me.

        For me coffee is the easy solution for life operating problems. Chem boosting. Doping. It should be stopped.

      1. 🙂

        I just marked it gives less than takes. (It’s unfair 🙂 )
        For example if I have a cup of coffee I with probability to 90% will not go to a gym. Also with brain work. Coffee helps to listen people (less) and don’t care what they talk about. (Just like wine). That’s true. But either jogging and bar bells either coffee, (I can’t do both). 🙂

  5. Sometimes I wonder if we are defined by our habits, or if our habits are created by self definition?
    I firmly believe that doing something small on a daily basis does help – it’s the trick of making that part of your self discipline or routine. There’s also the “believing” that small differences add up. If you don’t believe it, then you won’t apply it.

  6. I think you’ve defined “living life”. Living life involves behaviours. I try to live life in the moment with a view to the past for direction, and to the future for inspiration. I have habits (daily behaviours) that make life worth living. If that means I need to floss daily, then so be it! 😉

  7. Yes, I believe we are defined by our habits because they are a part of who we are and who we are perceived to be. However, I also believe that we have the opportunity and ability to modify the definition of who we are by changing our habits, especially the ones that are not beneficial to us.

    1. I totally agree with you. I think that we need to keep the habits that are useful to us and once one is not useful anymore, we need to change it.

  8. I use this technique all the time because I’m so busy. It works! It might take a long time to finish some things – it took me many years to write a book, but I finished by writing a little bit every day.

  9. i struggle with getting it done. depression often makes things seem insurmountable so some time back i adopted a similar philosophy. break things down into smaller, manageable bits. you do a little bit every day and yes, the tree will come down.

      1. overall, it has a good impact on global feelings of failure. i count the daily wins rather than looking at what i’m not doing, what i’m not accomplishing.

  10. I appreciate this inspiring post. I’m trying to improve my habits, and I’m also leaving room in my habits for error, such as by planning my bus commutes to time-sensitive things with a time buffer in case I make a mistake, like getting off at the wrong stop.

    1. I’ve worked with people with mental illness especially veterans so I know how bad it can be so maybe you should spend some time at the VA and see how bad the veterans are and then write a new book and get a new perspective

      1. I’m sure you’ve seen the worst of the worst, but veterans have been through massive trauma which most of us don’t experience through our lives.

      2. Yes I have I have seen a lot of people take their lives so don’t think about nothing like that your life is too precious and you have a family and I take it hopefully you’re doing good if you ever want to talk you can contact me anytime

  11. Why am I always the party pooper? Because if you know about felling trees, you know that if you give it five whacks a day and then don’t tend to it, it could quite possibly fall on something you really had no intention of it falling on. So what kind of habit is that? I mean, it’s my kind of habit, but it hasn’t always worked out all that well. But I get your point.

    1. Well, I assume we have a look around before we start hitting that tree. We need a plan before starting that habit, right? Otherwhise, what’s the point?

  12. Well, as psychologyhearts touches on, there needs to be room for error. The amount of calculation necessary to cut down a tree over time increases the level of variable that needs to be accounted for. So is it really the habit that makes the life or the plan? I’m wondering if it’s usually assumed that our best plans are laid for the long-term endgame, the execution of which necessitates repeated behaviors. So, yes, habits are sometimes necessary (or rather, habits remove the extra work of reformulating the plan over and over) but it’s the plan that defines us. I might even propose it’s the ability to escape habit that truly defines us. Then my mind wanders into the question of intent vs. causal action…or whatever.

    1. Of course… we’re not going to start cutting a tree that doesn’t need to be cut. Also, we need to keep an eye on the environment and adjust the hits based on that as well.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! Can you please share these facts you have or maybe you can direct towards the facts you think are right?

      1. We have to let these people live their lives we cannot control their lives with medication medication helps but they need to go outside make friendships and spend time with their family and I can direct you towards of the good person a guy out of place call New Horizons in Smithtown New York tell them Williams that you

      2. I agree with you. But can you please tell me where you found me mentioning the fact that we need medication to control our lives?

      3. I’m on the same site as you almost Psychology major and that’s how I found you so like I said you can talk to me anytime and let woman was upset cuz I said her book was totally wrong can you suspend a couple months in a VA hospital and see what real hell is thank you again William

      4. Thank you for your offer! I wish I could spend some time to a VA hospital, but I’m in a whole different country. If your offer will be available in time, I hope I’ll manage to come.

  13. Definitely believe that habits are important. Habits build your life, so you’ve got to try to cultivate good ones.

    I talk a lot about habits in my blog Apotheosis, where I discuss a lot of the authors and books on the topic

    1. Yes, I’ve noticed. Great content! In my opinion, habits are the ones that allows us to do whatever we want because they are automatic so we don’t need to make conscious efforts to do something so it gives us some mental space to do whatever we want with it.

      1. Absolutely! The science says this precise thing. Automatic behaviors are the brains way of economizing; brain scans even show a marked decrease in activity when we engage in deeply ingrained behaviors.

    1. I enjoyed reading it because I could see how many paths for “success” there are so there is no single “recipe for success”. All we need is consistency.

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