Word Of the Week #557: Habit

April 9, 2015 by  

Habit an often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

Do you have any habits that you would like to change? Have you tried and failed? Do you have a habit of justifying behavior you’d like to change?

David Levine’s LA Times article, “10 loopholes that can block your joy” is this week’s focus. Gretchen Rubin, the author of ‘The Happiness Project’ says, “Habits can make or break happiness. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life and a significant element of happiness. The No. 1 habit change that people say makes them happier is to make their bed. It sounds silly, but people keep telling me this all the time.”

Rubin says often the reasons why people fail – even at major efforts such as diet or exercise – is not a matter of willpower but a product of almost magical thinking, searching for and finding loopholes, those justifications that will excuse us from maintaining this particular habit in this particular situation.

But Rubin says that when we spot the loophole, we can try to reject the desire to let ourselves off the hook.“I know it’s not easy. I use loopholes all the time.” Here are Rubin’s top loopholes; perhaps they’re familiar to you.

a habit

  1. False choice loophole: I can’t do this because I’m so busy doing that.
  2. Moral licensing loophole: I’ve been so good; it’s OK for me to do this.
  3. Tomorrow loophole: It’s OK to skip today because I’m going to do this tomorrow.
  4. Lack-of-control loophole: I can’t help myself.
  5. Planning-to-fail loophole: I’ll just check my email quickly before I go to the gym…oops, I don’t have time to go to the gym, after all. Or, I’m not going to eat anything more tonight, but I’ll go into the kitchen and look in the freezer. Just curious.
  6. This-doesn’t-count loophole: I’m on vacation. I’m sick. It’s the weekend.
  7. Questionable assumption loophole: It’s not a proper dinner without wine. Or, it’s more fun to play tennis than go to the gym. It can wait.
  8. Concern-for-others loophole: I can’t do this because it might make other people uncomfortable.
  9. Fake self-actualization loophole: You only live once! Embrace the moment!
  10. One-time loophole: What difference does it make if I break my habit this one time?

So did any of those loopholes sound familiar? Do you let yourself off the hook more times than not? What one loophole could you overcome this week? What one habit would you like to change?

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