When you think about psychology, you probably think about feelings, or personalities or the way you make decisions.
You may not spend much time thinking about your habits. Yet, most of your life is spent doing the same thing you always do in the same situation.
Your life is driven by routine.
Think about a typical day. You probably have a routine in the morning. You brush your teeth, shower, put on makeup and get dressed. You are not thinking carefully about each step. You can do almost all of it without thinking at all.
That is a good thing. You don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about what you have to do next. You’d rather spend that time getting yourself mentally prepared for the challenges and excitement of the day.
The importance of habits in your life, though, also means that there are a lot of behaviors that affect your beauty that you are not thinking much about. Your morning routine affects how you are going to look for the day. Your eating habits affect your health. The way you sit at work affects your posture and the way your muscles feel at the end of the day. All of these things influence the way you present yourself to the world.
Over the next few columns, I’m going to talk about how to recognize some of your habits, how to create better habits and how to break the bad ones.
To get started, though, let’s talk about how, exactly, habits form in the first place.
It turns out that your brain is a habit-creating machine. You are constantly searching the world for ways to associate some action with the world.
The recipe for habits is really simple. Whenever you do something consistently in some situation, and you repeat the action a few times (perhaps over the course of several days), then the result is that you get a habit. (A few is probably anywhere between seven and 20 times.)
Many aspects of your world are set up to help you develop habits. Think about the organization of your bathroom. In the morning, you probably have a toothbrush next to the sink. When you stagger into the bathroom in the morning, that toothbrush along with the time of day and the icky feeling in your mouth engages the habit to brush your teeth. Your shower routine is helped along by the shampoos, conditioners and soaps that you keep out. Your makeup table is also organized to help you perform each step of your routine.
To see habits in action, think about that same morning routine when you are traveling. You stumble into a hotel bathroom. The shower at the hotel isn’t the same as the one you have at home. You have to think about how to get the water started, and then find the shampoo and conditioner. You are probably pulling makeup out of a case rather than having it arranged on a counter. Each step requires more thought. By the time you are dressed in the morning, you’re already tired.
By definition, you are probably not aware of all of the habits you have. If you think that changing your habits might be part of your road to beauty, then the first thing you have to do is to become more mindful of what is driving your behavior.
To help yourself recognize your habits, I recommend that you start a habit diary. Pick a behavior that you do routinely that you might want to change. Maybe it has something to do with the way you eat. Perhaps it involves the way you put on your makeup in the morning.
MORE: How to Keep a Journal
To understand your habit, carry around a little notebook. Whenever you find yourself doing that behavior, take a minute and write down the date and time. Look around and see what is in your environment then. Make a note of how you’re feeling.
When you start making this habit diary, take a couple of weeks and just observe yourself. Don’t start trying to make changes right away. It is important to get to know yourself.
We’ll look at what to do with that habit diary in the next column.
In the meantime, what are some of your daily habits?
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