Habit Forming: Oasis


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Oasis.”

I have been reading fairly new book called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, ironically published exactly one year ago from today. I have only made it through the first section, and am approximately 25% of my way through the book, but I have already discovered some amazing truths and highlights. As a psychology major and growing counselor, I fall in love with books like these.

How in the world does a book about making and breaking habits have anything to do with The Daily Post’s prompt on “Oasis?” Well, it does, and I’m about to tell you how.

In brief, habits are formed when there is a cue, followed by routine, followed by reward. For example, when I get off work and come home, my cue to snack, freak out, have a panic attack, pace the house, or act insane is initial feelings of anxiety. My reward must be some sort of relief from my stress or else this pattern, habit, would not have formed. So there it is, one of my most simple habits diagrammed using Duhigg’s formula: cue: anxiety, routine: snacking/pacing, reward: relief.

Now, Duhigg (2014) states that habits cannot be broken or eradicated but only reconstructed and rewritten. In order to do this successfully, one must become aware of his or her cue, routine, and reward. Then, one must use the same cue and reward to form an alternative habit. For example, I will take both my cue of anxiety and my reward of relief and intentionally practice another routine that gives the same result. Today I experimented with coming home, changing into comfortable clothes, applying “Stress Relief” essential oils to my hands, taking a moment to breath the scent in, and then making some hot mint green tea.

Did I break my old habit today? Did I make it through the day without engaging in my old habit? Will tomorrow and the next day and the next day progressively become easier for me to break this habit? The answer to all of these questions is no. No, I did not “break” my habit in one day, that’s ludicrous to assume. I did not even make it through the afternoon without snacking on some unneeded chocolate (very much a part of my old habit). Also, I doubt seriously that today was my hardest day of overcoming this bad habit. Today was a start. Today I found some slight sort of oasis that will be healthier and more successful that my previous self-defeating routine. The first step in any change is decision. Today I decided. My decision day was not January 1st, like New Years pressures it to be, but an ordinary day. Every day will be a decision day. I am on a lifelong journey of making choices, weighing options, and rewriting habits.

Like they say in Rome, nothing substantial is ever built in a day.

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