I am not referring here specifically to smoking, though having kicked that habit I could comment that it is easy, once you know how.
I am referring to the habit of having habits. Habitual ways of doing things which are OK to do once, like smoking, it is OK to have one cigarette, really, or getting angry with friends, family, colleagues, just once. But then we get into the habit of doing it, and it is the habit of having habits, the lazy answer to everything, that does us no favours.
Kicking the habit of having habits is really tough. The idea that you need to use brainpower to make every decision, well, that is way too far, even if it means global warming leads to catastrophe, I NEED MY HABITS!
Like all habit breaking, it starts with a small step. Break one habit. If it is kicking the dog, start with that habit. Or if it is chuckling and laughing at the dog when it tries to bite someone, that’s a good habit to break too. For some people you can substitute the word dog with: Partner, Colleague, Child, Friend, yes, we do the same to them as we do to the dog.
Of course, you are going to say that that sounds easier than it is. Which is right, it is not that easy, because that is not the place to start. The place to start is to get your brain really knowing that habits are not good for you. Full stop.
A big STOP AND THINK poster in the lounge would be good. Leave it there for a month, then start by breaking one habit, put it on the poster, and check every now and then (not habitually!) that you are keeping to it.
The link between habits and Transition is easy to spot. We have the habit of jumping in the car. We have the habit of buying things we don’t really need. We have the habit of popping a ready meal in the microwave rather than preparing something fresh. We have the habit of getting everything from the supermarket rather than taking a bit of time to go local.
If this sounds like a punishment cycle, yes, discomfort will occur when you start to kick the habit of having habits. But like dropping smoking, it is not long before a new life emerges, one that is a lot more fun.
During the discomfort stages you might want to reward yourself, build up points to go do something that otherwise you would not think you could afford, or would seem selfish. You will find that if you kick the habit of having habits then you can afford some real luxuries. And luxuries are fine, as long as they don’t get to be a habit. Because when they are a habit you won’t enjoy them any more.
There are plenty of books about kicking habits. If you make a pact with friends to kick habits, then it is even more fun. but first, and fundamentally, you have to decide in your head that it is the habit of having habits that is the worst thing, for you, for your family, for your friends, and for the planet.
Next time you say ‘Hello, how are you?’, if it is not coming from being a habit, it will be much more appreciated.