On Habit Formation



“ Everything without exception requires additional energy in order to maintain itself, ”

Kevin Kelly in The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

Everything requires additional energy, including habits. In the self-help, self-improvement world, habits are considered this “holy grail”. You take baby steps, you suffer, and you cultivate a behavior till it becomes a habit. Then you are done. You can now continue to enjoy the habit and its benefits for the rest of your life. And then you turn towards “habitifying” the next behavior.

Except, that which is not advertised. Habits require maintenance. Constant maintenance. I have found newly formed habits to be that barely-domesticated feral cat. You did the hard work of domestication, training. You showered love, attention. Still, you need to practice eternal vigilance so the cat doesn’t develop feelings of wanting to escape.

But really, is all this effort worth it? Is there an easier way? Is there a way to work with our tendencies than against them? I don’t know… Tell me if there is.

So, for now, I have started to view “building habits” as “test-driving” that behavior. Or more aptly, ‘working on a short project with that behavior’, noting down its pros and cons, and evaluating if the benefits of maintaining this behavior are worth the expense of maintenance.

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