Are You A Creature Of Habit?

in Health

Yesterday I did a wonderful thing for my health.  I didn’t take a jog, get my teeth cleaned, or eat spinach.  I spent the day with girlfriends.  Research shows this wonderful tonic does as much good for us as going to the gym.  Laughing, sharing, de-stressing,and connecting is as good as it gets.


“I am such a creature of habit”, said one of the girls.  Everyone affirmed agreement and sited ways this plays out in their life.  One said, “I always sit in the same place at church”, and that comment alone got almost 100% agreement with stories of times someone they knew was offended when their place was taken. (church are you listening?  this is a biggie if you want to grow)

“We always sit at the same place at the table”, someone else added. “Always wear the pink scarf with the red dress”, “always eat lunch at 12:00 noon”, always, always, always.

And, yet, when we begin to live each day just like the one before, living the same day over again, we are missing the joy of life.  Are we not?

When our lives become predictable in too many areas maybe it is time to give this “creature of habit” thing a rest!  All of us want to continue learning throughout our lives.  At least we say we do. We want to grow and keep our minds strong and creative.  We don’t do that by boxing ourselves in.  Research shows that the brain “loves” novelty. It likes it when different neuro-transmitters are firing, not so much when the same pathways turn into ruts. Learning spikes when something new is on the horizon, when the teacher does something different, when newness is part of our experience.

When I was a teacher I always enjoyed trying new strategies.  If I didn’t, I soon got bored, and so did my students.  One day I was cajoling a colleague to get out of her rut and try something different and she said, “Sandra, I like ruts!”  And there is a place for that too.  Structure is good.  It provides a stable platform around which to build our daily activities.  Routine is comfortable.  We know what is coming next. As much as the brain likes novelty, it also thrives on routine, the well worn neural pathways in our brain.  Neither extreme disorder and spontaneity nor extreme habit and routine serve us well.

As in most of life striking a balance is what we seek.  Should we become too regimented….and we find ourselves doing “this” every Monday, and “this” every Tuesday, and sitting “here” on Sundays, and serving “this for dinner on Thursdays”, maybe we are just a tad out of balance.  I challenge you to take a day, or even a week, whoa, and step out of some aspects of your routine.  Choose a different seat for dinner, wear the purple scarf with the red skirt, drink lemonade instead of Coke.  Just do if differently.  And for heavens sake, please sit somewhere different at church!



Leave a Comment


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Uttoran Sen @ Current Health Articles May 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I like to keep the good habits and get rid of the bad ones, but certain habits that you mentioned are neither good nor bad, they are just regular stuff. Taking a week off and doing it differently is a good idea, that way we can see if the change suits us or not. If it does not, lets rot with the habit that suits.

Personally, am a creature of habit and i like to be like that for most of the things that i do. I have seen that the change does not makes any difference, it is not like if i sit with my laptop in the smallest bedroom for a change will affect my concentration, no it does not, but still i don’t change the spot, and i guess there is no reason for it, it just is a habit, neither good nor bad.

Just for the sake of changing things, i do it some times along with many other things, overall i like all my neutral habits and prefer to keep them rotting.

Fran Aslam From Online writer April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

Well said article. I agree with you 100%. Habit is so important that it is in early psychology that students are taught this trait of human beings. It certainly helps to know a person. It naturally and automatically creates our personalities.

I enjoyed reading the blog post.

Fran A

Christina Linnell April 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Hi Sandra,
Wow, we are creatures of habit aren’t we? I am so the same way. I think mixing it up a bit keeps us all on our toes.

Alex@Jocuri April 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

hello Sandra,

I think this are automatism that we learn while doing some of the things over and over again. After a while all this action seem normal but you somehow lose a part of your freedom (in my opinion) because you don’t actually choose what to do, your brain automatically tells you what to do.

I too, do monotonous things everyday, and it’s practically uncontrollable, unless I decide to do something out of the ordinary, which I don’t do often.

Now, that you mentioned this, I do think that is practically wasting your life, you do the same think everyday, just like in that movie, The groundhog day.

redkathy April 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Being a very spontaneousness and hyper person, I find it hard to be a creature of habit in many areas of my life HOWEVER This statement applies to me – And for heavens sake, please sit somewhere different at church! – I find it very interesting that while I am so “all over the place” I do sit in the same place at church. For about fifteen years now! You got me thinking how this behavior doesn’t serve the ministry or the need for fellowship either. Thanks 🙂

Marquita Herald April 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Enjoyed your article! I have the opposite issue – I rarely do the same thing, the same way twice. I can’t even cook a recipe the same way twice – I have this “wonder if I tried it this way” natural urge that just takes over, which is tough when people ask me for a recipe! I’m constantly trying to nudge myself into some sort of system. About the only habit I have is my morning ritual of reading several blogs and online news over coffee.

Paul Salmon@Technically Easy April 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

I am definitely a creature of habit, to the point where I almost feel like getting upset when someone is sitting in the same spot I usually sit on a local transit train. I actually have to tell myself that I don’t own the seat, or even paid for that specific spot.

I think for me being a creature of habit is about familiarity or keeping with something I feel comfortable with. Breaking the habit, however, is hard to do, but once I do break such a habit, it feels good.

Previous post:

Next post: