The Absentminded Habit

Αcording to my quick google search it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days (that’s hilariously specific) for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. Now, keep in mind that sometimes Google is only as good as its searcher. But, I think that we can all agree that there is a process for a habitual life. Sometimes it’s a long process and sometimes it’s not.

Seems pretty easy

Now, knowing that, if you really, really want to start something, change, or improve a behaviour then you can give yourself a solid two month—plus. Cool. If you’re driven to change and you really want something and you stick to it then you’ve got it. Sixty-six days is not forever. You will—from sheer will—a habit or create a new one.

Careful with these

Let’s talk about the absent minded habit. It’s the devil of all habits. It’s the thing we have done for so long that we don’t even really think about what we’re doing. It’s the worst (in my opinion). It takes away pleasure and being fully present.

One hilarious example is how an ex would end conversations with his parents. He would say love you in lieu of good bye. How freakin’ sweet. Awe, look at this guy, expressing himself with words. It was endearing. One day he was on the phone with a buddy and as the call was winding up it happened. “Love you” he said. I nearly dropped my coffee mug and did everything in my power to stifle my laugh. He ended the call and looked at my smirk. “What?” He didn’t even realize he said it. He was so in the habit of saying ‘love you’ that it became common place to end his call with those words. It lost all meaning. I pointed out what he said it to his buddy. He was mortified. What I thought was a sweet end to a chat was just habitual mindlessness. Sad.

I started looking at behaviours differently.

Part of my morning routine is coffee. As soon as I wake up I have a cup of coffee. I’ve done this for a very long time. I think about others who have a similar habit. I wonder if they have done this for so long that the moment slips away and they are just doing it—because it’s a habit—without a lot of thought. The first moment of the day dissipates. The aromatic smell of the coffee perking, the recollections of delicious coffee memories, the warmth of the cup in a hand— all that sensory experience is pushed into the back seat.

If I go for a walk every day and do it to get in the steps but don’t look around to enjoy the world is that actually a good thing? Checking the box matters but if I don’t enjoyed it what’s the point exactly. Am I doing things just to do them? I don’t know if there’s any pleasure in that? Shouldn’t we all be fully present in our experiences. Yes. Dammit. We freaking should!

Habits can be good—especially the ones that are good for us. But I think that they can also be bad and I don’t mean bad habits I mean good habits or healthy habits that we take for granted. We’re not a cog on a wheel. We are humans meant to have a beautiful human experience, not just get to the end of the day and say I’ve had my work out. I’ve eaten my healthy food. I’ve fill in the blank just for the sake of saying I did. What’s kind of life is that?

It’s important to be fully present. I mean, it’s not necessary but it’s important. Lots of people blindly much through their days without any kind of awareness. So sad. Personally, I do believe being fully present does makes life better. So, what ever the habit that enhances life let’s make sure we are really taking in the life part of that routine.

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