We explain what a habit is, how it is formed, what types exist and various examples. In addition, differences with the vices.
What is a habit?
A habit is a behavior carried out regularly , that is, repeated over time , that is learned – not innate – and that requires little or no rational commitment.
These types of minimal behaviors make up an important portion of our daily time. They can be helpful or harmful to our health (in the latter case they would be called “vices”).
Anything can be a habit, when its realization constitutes part of a more or less automatic routine , that is, it does not require conscious effort or explicit programming. For example, many people have a cigarette habit, and they usually smoke at certain times and times, such as after eating, or when getting up in the morning, etc.
These behaviors are part of the smoking habit and were learned and incorporated , and therefore can also become disjointed, although, as the proverb says, breaking the habit is often more difficult than creating it.
This use of the word habit should not be confused with the others accepted in the dictionary of the Spanish language, and which refer to the clothing of monks, military or students.
Types of habits
There are different types of habits:
- Physical habits . Those that involve the body and health, such as exercising, brushing teeth after each meal or having a glass of liquor after lunch.
- Social habits . Those that involve interaction with others, such as visiting grandma every Sunday or calling a friend on each birthday.
- Mental habits . Those that strictly concern the mind, as the practice of meditation.
- Recreational habits . Those that have to do with the way we have to recreate ourselves, such as playing football on Saturday afternoons or spending an hour on videogames after doing homework.
- Affective habits . Those who concern affection and their forms of expression, such as the “I love you” goodbye to the bride and groom.
There are many possible habits, and to take note of them we just have to observe our daily routine. Obviously, what for us is a habit, for others it is not, depending on whether they are an installed part of a routine. For example:
- It is a habit to go to the bathroom before sleeping.
- It is a habit to brush your teeth when you get up, as well as go to the kitchen and heat water to make coffee.
- It is a habit to have breakfast in the cafe next to work.
- It is a habit to greet office colleagues upon arrival.
- It is a habit to smoke a cigarette after lunch.
- It is a habit to call our partner when leaving the office.
- It is a habit to go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- It is a habit to take out the trash when you get home.
- It is a habit to bathe at the end of the day.
How are habits formed?
Habits are not natural, but are learned behaviors instilled by repetition , until a certain automaticity is acquired.
Thus, the set of influences that we receive at home, at work, at school and throughout our lives, make us adopt certain habits instead of others. As we become aware of them we can accept and normalize them or replace them with others that are more convenient or healthier.
It is said that 66 days are enough to forge a new habit , that is, two months after sustaining an activity or conduct with the necessary regularity we can fix it and incorporate it into our behavior. Then, we can begin to consider it a habit.
The same criterion also applies to the substitution of one habit for another: many former smokers find it easier to quit smoking if they replace the habit with another, such as chewing gum or drinking a cup of tea whenever they feel like incurring vice.
A vice is a harmful habit, that is , it is harmful to health or that hinders everyday life in some way. There are vices of all kinds, some encouraged by addictive or psychotropic substances, such as drug, alcohol or tobacco use, and others that have a more personal and individual origin.
In any case, the vices are as difficult to break as any other habit, sometimes even more , because there is usually behind them a psychological compensation procedure that has not been exposed to daylight and, therefore, operates from the hidden psyche.