Wellness

It Takes 21 Days to Change a Habit

You are about to take a journey that is literally going to transform the way you live. Once you embrace the process of converting your bad habit or habits into good ones, the rewards you reap will be enormous and lifelong.

It doesn’t matter how long you have had your bad habits. They could be something you have done since childhood, such as lying or biting your fingernails. As long as you can recognize that the habit is destructive and genuinely want to convert it into something positive, you can change any bad habit into a good habit.

Changing Habits

Everybody has bad habits. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Pope or George Clooney, the Dalai Lama or the Archbishop of Canterbury, people are human, they occasionally make mistakes, and these mistakes can often develop into bad habits.

The problem isn’t that you have bad habits. That’s normal. What’s causing you unhappiness and psychic pain is that up to this point you have been unwilling to make a genuine commitment to change.

You truly can do anything you put your mind to. The human will is indomitable and the changes that lie ahead are going to surprise and amaze you. All it takes is the will to do it.

What’s So Special about 21 Days?

You may have heard that it takes 21 days to change a habit. That’s one reason residential rehab centers for drug and alcohol abuse usually last 21 days. It takes that long for the body to flush out the toxic substances that it is addicted to. But it’s also how long it takes for the mind to expel the toxic negative thoughts that cause it to cling to bad habits so that they can replace them with positive ones.

Three weeks or a month also is a good timeframe to work with when changing habits because it corresponds with our calendar system. If you target the first day of the month for the beginning of a habit change, then it’s a simple matter to use that month as a framework to work on your objective (“I’m going to get this done by Week 2, that done by Week 2 …” and so on).

Not every bad habit requires 21 days or a month to change. Some can take longer and some can take less time. For example, if your goal is to get out of bed a half hour earlier each day so you can make your mornings more productive, you probably can make this a habit within a week to 10 days.

But habits that go deeper into your character – such as being kinder to your spouse, or becoming a more spiritually centered person, or losing the extra weight that is making you obese and out of shape and replacing it with muscle – can take months or even years to achieve fully.

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