Why Habits Matter
Last month, I discussed the six principles of habit formation. Now, let’s talk about why habits matter.
Put simply, your habits are who you are. They form your identity — not only from your own perspective but also for how others see you. For instance, if you show up at the office every day by 9 a.m. and work hard until the end of the day, you feel like a productive member of your team. You’re also viewed as a good colleague.
Five Reasons Why Habits Are Important
Habits matter because they dictate how you think, act, and feel. In fact, they impact nearly every part of your day. Below, I consider five specific reasons why habits are important.
1. Habits help you reach your goals.
They are especially powerful if you’re working towards recovery. For instance, if you struggle with negative self-talk (i.e. “I don’t deserve happiness” or “I’ll never be able to do it”), you can break this harmful cycle through behavioral experiments. Do you justify self-criticism as helpful or motivating? Try to treat yourself with love and self-compassion over the next few days and consider whether you are more or less motivated thanks to the positive self-talk.
2. Habits help you concentrate.
Every action you perform creates a neural pathway. If an action becomes a habit, the neutral path becomes more efficient, making it easier to follow that habit. Furthermore, your subconscious controls your habits. The more habits you develop, the less work the conscious areas of your brain need to do each day. This shift allows you to focus on non-habitual tasks more efficiently and for longer.
3. Habits increase your self-confidence.
Your self-confidence improves with every achieved task. If you build your day around your habits, chances are, you’ll check off most of your to-do list. This sense of completion, then, leads to a feeling of accomplishment and contentment. Want to test out this theory? Make your bed each morning. Experts believe that completing this small but meaningful chore sets you up for a more successful day.
Habits Can Change Your Life
4. Habits lead to more positive thoughts.
A foundation of healthy habits gives you a better perspective on life. For example, if you write in your gratitude journal each night before bed, you’ll soon notice that you start seeing more good in every day. Positive thoughts tend to avalanche, ultimately helping you maintain a better physical and mental state.
5. Finally, habits make life better!
Just as negative beliefs and behaviors are learned, positive beliefs and behaviors can become habits too. Taking your vitamins, showing up to your weekly therapy sessions, sticking with a consistent sleep schedule — these actions are all thanks to the development of habits. Once you create one healthy habit, you’re more likely to commit to another one. Each habit provides you with a little boost of serotonin, and you can’t help but want more.