The habits in our lives are much greater than most think. Most people hear the word habit and assume it only means a small number of bad habits in their lives. Because of this misunderstanding I prefer to use the word system to describe the various automatic and patterned responses that we develop.
Everything we do follows a set pattern that we typically don’t recognize. The way we go through our day, the way we meet a stranger, the we we interact with our various social networks all stem from habits. We don’t act uniquely each time we meet someone. Actually we will tend to act in a very similar way each time.
I noticed this while working in an office recently. Each employee seemed to communicate exactly the same way when they passed someone in the hall. The interaction followed a similar path. Some preferred to ask “how is your day going” and some preferred “how are you” and some always seemed to bring up the weather or the latest football news to start conversation.
It didn’t matter how this interaction went for most people, it was more about exchanging pleasantries. But there were a few individuals that had the habit of avoiding eye contact and waiting to say hello until someone else said hi first. It was amazing that these individuals tended to get labeled as anti-social or unfriendly. After getting to know these individuals better I realized that those assumptions were not true. They simply developed habits that they used every time they were in a similar situation. Unfortunately, their habits were not positive ones.
The habits and systems in our lives even determine how we handle a stressful situation. Did you notice that certain people get very anxious and stressed by any significant level of uncertainty while others can remain calm and in control even in the most chaotic circumstances?
The reason has to do with our habits and systems. The habits and systems are patterned responses to situations. This means that we react one way and repeat that until it becomes our natural way of responding to all circumstances that are similar.
It isn’t that so-and-so at the office is a bad person, it is simply that they have developed habits and systems that portray them that way. Because our society places little emphasis on systems, we tend to automatically associate the behavior with the character of the individual. The reality is that it is simply bad habits and systems that cause the person to act in that manner.
This is great news for anyone who has a hard time interacting with others or who has developed poor systems in their lives. This means that it is controllable. You have the ability to improve in these areas by following the principles of habit building. You are able to change your patterned response to any situation. This will unlock a great deal of potential and help you to become the person that you want to become!