BY TONY WANLESS
Every new year begins with a period of dreaming that our lives will be different.
We will stop bad behaviours. We will be better people.
However, after a short time, these plans have almost completely faded away.
Why? Because changing a habit is difficult.
Habits, good or bad, are simply patterns of behaviour that have been built over time by repetition. For instance, we often eat at the same time every day.
We create habits to be short-cuts for our busy brains. When triggered, they help us perform repeated actions without our having to think about them and so save energy.
But sometimes, when patterns are very strong they become “ruts.”
Ruts once meant the deep track left by wagon wheels. Now, “being in a rut” means having a behaviour that is difficult to change.
Usually, ruts are created by bad habits. But they can also be used to build good habits.
To do so you must repeatedly perform a new behaviour in a bad behaviour’s place. This imprints the behaviour pattern in your mind.
At first this requires much attention and, and therefore, mental power. You must be constantly on guard to perform the new behaviour.
But, eventually, the new behaviour becomes the new habit.
It is a new “good” rut in place of the old one.