The Habits You Will Form in Life

A habit is what you repeatedly do when faced with a triggering event, or trigger for short. Today we will learn about some properties about these triggers and events.  1. Habits can be time triggered or event triggered.  2. Each trigger is programmed into a different muscle’s memory.  3. A habit has three parts.  (a) The trigger happening, (b) you recognizing that the trigger is present, (c) you responding to the trigger.

Here are 4 examples

  • Ex.1 – Your habit to get sleepy around 11PM is a time triggered event that has been programmed into your human body.  (a) 11PM comes, (b) [your body's internal] clock tells you, (c) your body changes its body chemistry in preparation for sleep.
  • Ex.2 – Your habit to flinch at sudden, extremely loud noises is an event triggered habit built into your body’s muscles.  (a) your ears receive the signal of a loud noise, (b) your mind determines that this is not an expected noise, (c) your muscles are told to flinch.
  • Ex.3 – Your habit to wipe your nose with a kleenex is an event triggered habit built into your conscious mind.  (a) you sneeze, (b) your mind tells you this was a sneeze and you sense snot, (c) your mind tells you to go wipe it with a kleenex.
  • Ex.4 – Your habit to associate cats with dogs is an event triggered habit built into your subconscious mind (memory).  (a) you see a cat, (b) you think about what you know about cats, (c) attached to your memories of cats are memories of dogs.

Everyone is born with default habits, biologically set.  You yawn when tired, your stomach growls when hungry, etc.  As you grow up, (a) you encounter different things that you didn’t know existed, like a red apple to eat, or an iPhone to play with, or situations you didn’t know existed like meeting a stranger, or hearing an ice cream truck song.  As you are exposed to these triggers, (b) your environment, childhood, background circumstances all serve to determine how you think and therefore how you recognize the situation.  Perhaps you recognize red apples because they’re always in the same place in your home, or you get them from the same store, or you pick them from the same tree, or you see apples in a variety of contexts and learn to recognize them objectively.  (c) Whatever it is, after you recognize something, you then form your response to it.  You could respond to a sneeze with getting tissue paper, toilet paper, rubbing it on your shirt, your friend’s shirt, etc.  You could respond to seeing apples with happiness because you like the taste of apples and they’re always available on the shelf in your home, or with a cringe because you once found a worm in an apple you ate, or with sadness because you can’t afford apples unless they’re on sale at the store so it reminds you of your relative poverty, or with happiness because you like climbing the tree to pick apples.

Because your environment, childhood, background circumstance, and life experiences are out of your control and different for each person, everyone forms drastically different methods for recognizing triggers, and drastically different responses to triggers.  This accounts for the diversity of humanity.  A problem you may face if you don’t have sufficient guidance from peers and mentors is you may take your own anecdotal evidence and life experiences and extrapolate it to describe the world at large: because apples cause you happiness and taste good to you, you assume that for all people, apples cause happiness because they taste good to all people.  You mistake describing yourself and your own world to describing the entire world.  However, this is inaccurate because there are people who don’t like apples or respond very differently to apples.  Thus, it is important to recognize the scope of your beliefs: that they extend no further than yourself, and those who agree with you.

If you have traveled, or learned about history or culture, you will realize that depending on the context, different things become socially acceptable and unacceptable.  Growing up, whoever is in charge of you will give you your default values for what is socially acceptable and not. Furthermore, depending on what values society has at that time and place, your happiness towards apples might be socially acceptable, and it might not be.  If you’re in country/location A where it’s acceptable, reacting with happiness is unpunished.  If you’re in country/location B where it is not acceptable, when you travel there, you might end up punished.  However, it is important to, as you mature, stop blindly following what circumstance has taught, and instead think through and understand the implications behind certain social standards, and to therefore be aware and in control of your responses.  To be self aware, you should know trigger A results in response D for you, and to be able to do something about it in the event when you want to change it to response C.

Resources

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