Our lives are the sum total of our actions; I think we’d all agree.
I mean, sure, “stuff happens,” but the primary arc of where we came from – and consequently where we are going – has been, and will be, determined by the decisions we did or did not make. Whether that’s where we live, what we do for a living, or even who we choose to spend our lives with; we didn’t just wake up one morning with all our choices pre-decreed for us. We were given options along our life path and we made decisions. Those decisions had consequences; those we like, we labeled “good.” Those that didn’t turn out as we wanted were called “bad.” Yet, the bottom line is we chose our paths.
As for why we made the decisions we made, they were either well-thought-out, analyzed, and planned; or, maybe more often than not, they were choices propelled by habit.
To permanently change habits, we need an accurate understanding of what they are. Most people mistakenly consider habits to be repeated behaviors done without thought; developed over time. Whereby that’s partly true, it misses focusing on the more significant elements: everything which precedes the behavior. Not understanding the entire chain condemns us to be victims of our actions instead of their masters.
That said, let’s re-define more accurately what exactly is a habit: “A recurring pattern of thoughts and feelings triggering a repeated behavior, which all work together to make our lives better or easier.” The graphic shows how they all fit together.
We are not mindless Zombies, aimlessly wandering the landscape, driven by impulse and instinct, reacting without any control. Instead, since most of us have functioning brains, we develop patterns – rituals – which allow us to lower the cacophony between our ears and think less while removing feelings we label as “negative.” The benefit of which is that it simplifies our lives by putting much of it on autopilot. After all, it’s hard to constantly be “on,” we need relief.