From Samuel Johnson comes today’s quote: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
When I first starting writing posts about making a positive attitude a habit, I couldn’t wait for the 21st day! Why? Because it takes 21 days to form a habit. Is this really true?
The HowStuffWorks website states that basically, “habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat a behavior often enough, those synaptic pathways are going to get worn in. The human brain is a very adaptive piece of machinery” and continues with “Everyone’s brain is different, and habit formation also relies on aspects of experience and personality.”
For me, I gave up caffeine in 7 days. Never went back to it. Gave up sugar in 28 days – cold turkey – but I must admit I still want it, crave it and occasionally indulge in it. I trained for a 5K after 6 years of doing nothing in 27 days (9 weeks, 3x a week!). But making a positive attitude a habit is proving to be a little more difficult, maybe because it is a state of mind instead of a state of being. Giving up caffeine and sugar and exercising all have visible results and though resisting cravings and slogging through a bad workout may not be the best of times, you know it will get better (interesting how I can be positive about those physical things but being positive about situations is so much harder)!
In this post, How to Make Positivity a Habit: 4 Simple Steps to a Happier Everyday Life from bufferapp.com, it seems that a positive habit can be made over time, incrementally. As mentioned in the post, habits can be formed by taking small steps like flossing one tooth at a time or meditating for 2 minutes to work up to 10 minutes.
So whether it takes 21 days, 21 months or 21 years, forming habits both physical and mental take various amounts of time depending on your desire to change those habits. And my desire to be more positive is just as strong as my desire to give up caffeine and run a 5K. Be positive, don’t look back and keep moving.