Samay desperately wishes to say adios to smoking. Ruby would give anything in the world to lose those extra pounds. Shalu is wanting since years to start with an exercise regime. Romy doesn’t understand how he can stay away from weed, which makes his life seem magical. Shahid doesn’t get tired dreaming about a job which isn’t anything like his current job. All their worries are around one powerful word, Habit. 

Every one of us resolves to break few habits & construct few others. What’s our success rate? How about improving the success rate in few steps? As a first step let’s understand the nature of habits.

Instinct driven Habits, when Body takes the Driving Wheel!

Joey has a tendency to wake up around one in the night hungry. He sneaks into kitchen looking for a snack, while his wife is sleeping like a baby. He has been like this since a while. What would you do when you are hungry or thirsty..?? How long can you control them..?? Every one of us has experienced the power of hunger & thirst. We will be habituated to eat at certain interval or drink certain quantity. Other instinctual tendencies are the need for sex & the need for rest. We were born with these instincts, generated automatically by body to address its basic needs. Being body driven & primitive; instinctual habits are the toughest to master. There are many industries that thrive by triggering one of these instincts within us subconsciously. Few of the strong addictions we wish to get rid are at this level.

Pleasure or Pain driven Habits: the World as Experienced through Senses

Think about yourself during childhood. Did you love going to school & listening to teachers..?? How about studies? Was it fantastic to study? What did you really like to do? Well, most of us would have preferred to eat junk food, watch our favorite shows, roam around & mostly play. Then why did we go to school or how did we manage to..?? Childhood is when we develop different habits from brushing our teeth to sleeping at a certain hour. If we checked our routine and listed all the habits, the habits we created & loved were the one’s which made us feel good. All the activities which were pleasurable for us were our choice. The strongest of the habit was that where most of our senses were involved like playing a game or watching television. The habits which we liked least but obliged anyway are the one’s which were created out of fear of elders. It could be something like waking up in the morning, taking a bath, eating our vegetables or doing homework. Strong Emotions guided by instincts are the motivation behind most of these habits. Even later in our life we continue to be pleasure seeking beings & most of the things we do is to multiply pleasure & divide pain. These habits are to immediately satisfy the emotional urge. Once a certain emotion is generated we just want to generate more of it or reduce it based on its nature hence the pleasure based habit strengthens just by repetition. Most of the addictions we want to get rid of are at emotional level. It’s just a balancing act between pleasure & pain just like studying after playing or to play after studying.

Goal driven Habits: What gives satisfaction in Life?

Roshan puts in tremendous efforts on every project to ensure that he climbs up the corporate ladder soon. He is sure that one day he would be one of the directors and every day is taking him a step closer to his dream. What Roshan is looking for here is not an immediate pleasure. He is working hard just to satisfy his need to be a prominent person. Every goal driven habit is driven by a need, lying deep within us. It could be the need for money, comfort, name, fame, status, prestige, power or anything that needs one to work for it & later keep working to enhance it or save it from waning out. Goal driven habits are futuristic in nature hence come with a common component of seeking something. It might be individualistic in nature or involving the needs of family, community, country or the world. Goal driven habit is one of the indicators of agency because one has a persistent goal only when he could manage pain or pleasure driven habits to an extent. Goals here are associated with stronger emotions, strong enough to overcome the need for immediate pleasure/pain.

Love driven Habits, Ones that Make Every Moment of Life Valuable!

When Abdul Kalam took his last walk recently, whole India walked with him. If not for Lincoln, there wouldn’t have been the USA, Nirvana remains in many hearts though Kurt Cobain is no more. One’s in a while we come across people who seem to be thoroughly enjoying what they do. It could be a carpenter, a shop keeper, an artist, an athlete or a scientist. This person works for the sake of work and nothing else because he/she is drugged by what he/she does hence high on it. These habits do not need any other motivation because there is love connecting what they do and what they are; hence what they do becomes what they are. They either do what they love or learn to love what they do. These sorts of habits are seen in those who shape their profession through their very presence.

Anything we want to Change, We got to Understand First

Our life is nothing but an outcome of our habits & patterns. How about looking back at your day and putting each habit into relevant category..?? Also take some time to note down what you wish to add and what else to negate from the list. Now that we have a rough understanding of the way habits function, we are ready to take the leap and see how we can break addictions & make resolutions work. 

Let's work on addictions & resolutions in our next conversation. Stay Tuned!