In a 2006 Duke University study it was determined that 40% of all of our daily activities were habits. Habits are unconscious activities that were formed over many years. Often these habits were forged prior to becoming an adult. Most habits are created by emulating certain habits of our parents. Some are derived from our environment both inside the home and outside the home. We tend to copy the habits of those we surround ourselves with most frequently. Our beliefs and our emotions play an important role in habit formation. A belief is formed two ways:
- Through repetitive programming that may be internal – our thoughts, or external – repetitive statements made by influence relationships such as our parents, teachers, friends, family etc.
- Through life events that were anchored to strong negative emotions (disappointment caused by a failure event) or strong positive emotions (happiness caused by a success event).
Once a belief is accepted, habits generally follow. The early part of everyone’s life is fraught with failure events: we engage in new activities and make mistakes, or fail at an activity. These mistakes and failures are life’s way to help us evolve and learn. They are not intended to negatively affect the rest of our lives. The are intended to positively affect the rest of our lives by teaching us what not to do. Unfortunately, the people around us, our parents, friends, teachers etc., unintentionally resort to criticism that does affect us the rest of our lives. This criticism sticks because it triggers negative emotions. Once an emotion is coupled with a thought, it sticks. It becomes a belief. “Tom’s no good at math”, “Tom is clumsy”, “If Tom’s head wasn’t attached to his neck he’d forget it somewhere”.
That last line was spoken to me by a loved one when I was just nine years old. I remember where it was said, when it was said and and how it made me feel – stupid. That event created a limiting belief. I believed I was not smart and, so, I got into the habit of never doing my homework and struggled into the 8th grade. My struggles ended when my very attractive 8th grade science teacher, Ms. Summers, told me that she believed I was actually very smart and that my problem was that I was not doing enough homework. At the time I was failing science. She told me she believed I was going to do well on the next test. I remember going home on the bus that day and all I was thinking about was studying for my science test that was three days away. I studied every night for three days. I still remember that test. I also remember the fuss my science teacher made to the whole class when she handed me my test results. I received the second highest grade in the class, a 99. The emotion I felt is with me to this day.
My science teacher shattered my limiting belief in the 8th grade and I went on to become a solid B+ student. I was able to pass the CPA exam, get a Masters degree in taxation, and pass the Certified Financial Planning ten hour test on the first try. That new belief that I was smart changed my study habits for the rest of my life. One person’s words changed my life forever.
Our daily habits are directly associated with our beliefs. If we have bad daily habits, it is because we have limiting beliefs driving those bad habits. If we have good daily habits it is because we have strong positive beliefs driving those good habits. Parents, teachers, company managers and anyone in the position of authority has the capacity to eliminate the limiting beliefs and bad habits of their children, students and employees. We all need to positively inspire everyone we are in a position to influence in our lives. One person can change the entire life of another person by simply giving them a new belief to believe in which will, in turn, rid them of their corresponding bad daily habits forever.