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September 3rd, 2020
There’s good habits, bad habits and then there are anti-habits. Bad habits are easy to develop. They are seductive and generally pleasurable in some sort of way that is easy and desirable to repeat tomorrow… like buy another bottle of wine, or a six-pack of beer. Good habits are usually the exact opposite in terms of ease of development. That first month usually requires a substantial dedication and discipline to get that new behaviour through the hoops of 3 and 5 and 7 consecutive days in a row.
The antihabit describes a combination of both. It’s the seductive ease of the bad habit and the unravelling of the good habit rolled into one.
Let’s say you have a solid meditation practice of a couple years. It feels as though there is a substantial momentum and inertia that will carry you forever into the future.
The antihabit starts slow, but easy. It’s when you have that stray day that is characterized by an unusual schedule, and it slips by without meditating. The next morning perhaps there’s the realization - whoops, that didn’t happen yesterday! That’s a key moment to make sure that one day missed doesn’t grow into two, because two slides into three missed days far easier.
This is the development of the antihabit, which is the unravelling of the good habits we have. Just as habits have thresholds of development - generally attributed to 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, 21 days, and so on and so forth, the unravelling of a good habit seems to accord to the same stretches of time. Miss three days and the likelihood you miss 5 is substantially greater. Miss 5 days in a row and it becomes far more certain that 7 days will pass without the good habit happening.
Antihabits are bad habits taking root in the guise of the ghost of a dying good habit.
Being mindful of their pernicious development is perhaps more important than stopping other bad habits or starting even more good habits. Preventing the antihabit is a defence of all that we’ve worked for up until this point.