A Habit Becomes Natural

Posted by on Dec 20, 2009 in General, Philosophy | 3 Comments

I read an article stating; “It takes 66 days to form a habit.” It said: ”If you make a New Year’s resolution to exercise or eat healthily and do it daily until March 7, it is likely to stick – suggest researchers who claim that it takes 66 days for a “healthy” pledge to become an ingrained habit. Reporting in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the researchers started to investigate how long it took for the repetition of behavior to reach the ”automacity’stage – where it is performed whenever the situation is encountered without thinking, awareness or intention. To reach the conclusion, the study’s volunteers were asked to choose a healthy eating, drinking or exercise behaviour that they would like to make into a habit, reports The Telegraph. Results showed that whilst the average time to form a habit was 66 days, more complex behaviours took longer. An exercise habit took longer to form than a healthy eating or drinking habit.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/5857845/It-takes-66-days-to-form-a-habit.html) (http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php)

Here is a maxim the Chinese say; ”xíguàn chéng zìrán”. It means “A habit becomes natural” or “Habit is second nature”. The original story this phrase springs from comes from a Chinese Taoist philosopher named Zhuangzi (Chuang-Tzu), in his book Nanhua zhenjing Chapter19: Dasheng.
“Kongzi (Confucius) was observing the view from the Lu Liang Mountains where there was a waterfall three hundred feet high. The foam and froth created by the water as it hit bottom extended for thirteen miles. Neither turtles, alligators, fish nor any other water creatures were able to swim in those rapids. He saw one man swimming in the current and figured he must be very troubled and was trying to commit suicide so he told his disciples to line up at the banks of the river and rescue him. After the man had gone a few hundred feet he popped up in the water with his hair trailing behind him like a blanket, singing as he floated, and swam up to the edge of the embankment and climbed out.
Kongzi went up to him and asked:
“I thought you must have been some sort of ghost, but now I can see you’re a man. Please excuse me for asking, but do you have a special way to flit through water like that?”
“No, I don’t have a special way. I started with what was inborn in me, grew up following my own nature, and accomplished what I have because of my fate. When I enter, I merge with the flow and let it carry me. When I exit, I allow myself to be floated up gently by the current. I follow the way of the water and don’t try to force against it. That’s how I flit through the water.”
Kongzi said: “What do you mean by starting with what is inborn, growing up following your own nature, and accomplishing due to fate?”
“I was born from a pile of dirt so I’m comfortable in the hills – that’s what’s inborn. I grew from the water, so I’m comfortable in water – that’s my nature. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I’m comfortable being what I am – that’s fate.”
I believe that it is instinctual for people to look for ways to achieve peace of mind and comfort for the body. Some people seek exterior means, like smoking, alcohol, drugs, and/or over eating to make their body and mind feel good. This is the easiest way to do it, but it also causes people the most difficulty when they try to quit their bad habit(s), especially once they have serious health problems.
After practicing Tai Chi, Chi Kung(Qi Gong) and meditation for over twenty years, I have found that our body and mind doesn’t need exterior means to feel good. We have an natural internal ability to make our own peace and comfort. Simply exercising our bodies and practicing our mind creates this. Human beings are creatures of habit. So if you can live to be eighty years old by only taking 66 days to form a good habit that can last the rest of your life, don’t you think it is worth it?

3 Comments

  1. mukul
    January 8, 2010

    I read something somewhere that went like this,”what you do becomes a habit, what your habit is becomes your nature (probably 2nd nature), what your nature is becomes your destiny.” It’s a chineese quote for sure, not the exact quote, so correct me if I am wrong.

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  2. Alex
    March 3, 2010

    Just wanted to share my experiences forming a habit in 66 days. The first time I read this article was about the same time I became a student of Master Danny Lai. One thing I knew for a fact, is that I really wanted this change in my life, and really wanted a new good habit (for 17+ years, heavy smoking used to be my habit). Given that my life-style was very inactive for the past at least 8-10 years I was out of shape big time and the first month or so it was a hard work every day. Since I started on Jan 5th, I missed practice only twice – the first time because I thought my body needed a rest at least once a week (not really.. my body didn’t need any breaks, or at least at that time), and the second time celebrating Chinese New Year with Master Danny.
    What can I say? I do have times when I don’t want to practice for one or the other reason. However, I keet telling myself: If I allow to slip once, there will be a second time, and a 3rd time and etc. So the first month and half or so there were times when I was forcing myself to get up and practice. So it was just like battling smoking cravings when I was quitting. Just live one day at a time, one breath at a time. And day by day I’m now on my 3rd month, and let me tell you – I can’t wait to get home to do stretching, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi. This is something I want to do every day, and I find time to do it every day. I’m sure there will be an occasion when I can’t practice for some reason, but it is not today. This is how I approach it.

    One other interesting thing I picked up from one of the blogs here, is that I don’t expect to become a master in a month. Instead, I’m enjoying the actual process (be it stretching, Qi Gong or Tai Chi).

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  3. Dr Richard Deshimura McCall
    March 29, 2010

    Just a quick but SINCERE “CONGRATS!!” on your blog post and your definitive efforts to change your life for the better!

    Keep up the GREAT work and the great ATTITUDE! Both will take you farther than one can typically even imagine or hope!

    Reply

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