It’s said that up to 80% of our day to day activity is done on ‘auto-pilot’, without consciously thinking about what we are doing (or have to do next). Simply put, our brains are wired to learn what they have to do repeatedly every day, and then they do those tasks automatically, so we can save our valuable mental energy for things that really matter (decisions, social engagement, etc). It’s all about efficiency.
So a large part of our life – and it’s quality – is determined by our habits. I read this quote recently, which highlights the massive importance and impact our habitual behaviours have on our lives. Have a think – and ask yourself, if you could break one bad habit, and form one new one, what would they be, and what impact would it have on your life if you reached the point where you did it automatically, every day (or every week – key point being that it becomes part of your routine). For me, examples would be exercising every day after work, or calling my family every Saturday morning.
“Being in bed, having a shower, having breakfast in the kitchen, sitting in my study writing, walking in the garden, cooking and eating our common lunch at my office with my friends, going to the movies, taking my family to eat at a restaurant, going to bed again. There are a few more.
“There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one person’s way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own life and you will find the same. It is shocking at first, to see that there are so few patterns of events open to me.
“Not that I want more of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can live well. If they are bad for me, I can’t.”
- Christopher Alexander