Here are 20 quotes that I like about habit. After each quote I’ve given a few of my thoughts about it.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
― Samuel Johnson
I love this quote. It really illustrates how habits get stronger the longer we practice them. Its almost a warning to be careful what habits we are creating, because even though they can seem trivial at the time, eventually they will become very strong and harder to let go of.
“Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.”
― Mark Twain
One of those funny quotes that Mark Twain excelled at. Reminds us that we are often more aware of others bad habits than our own.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
― Jim Ryun
Reminds me that habits are about long term consistent behavior.
“If you do not pour water on your plant, what will happen? It will slowly wither and die. Our habits will also slowly wither and die away if we do not give them an opportunity to manifest. You need not fight to stop a habit. Just don’t give it an opportunity to repeat itself. (67)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
An interesting quote. Often its futile to put lots of mental energy into resisting a habit, it just makes us think about it more and more likely to do it! By removing the temptation to do the habit, for example, don’t even buy the fattening foods so you won’t be tempted to go into the kitchen cupboard to get them.
“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”
― Desiderius Erasmus
One habit can overwrite another one.
“The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”
― Marcel Proust
Reminds me that often are habits are irrational!
“Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.”
― Elbert Hubbard
Again, the longer the habit is performed, the more of a life of its own it takes on.
“Crash diets don't work. They don't work for losing weight, they don't work for making sales quota and they don't work for getting and keeping a job.
The reason they don't work has nothing to do with what's on the list of things to be done (or consumed). No, the reason they don't work is that they don't change habits, and habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made.”
― Seth Godin
Habits are about long-term behavior. Perhaps the reason why we are more seduced by the idea of quick changes is that short-term behavior is more conscious, and therefore more under our control. We don’t think about subconscious behaviors, like habits, as much, yet they are arguably more influential on our lives.
“The problem is that your brain can't tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it's always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.”
Good and bad habits are all the same to our subconscious minds. It’s just a repeating behavior. Often habits exist because they provide us with some form of reward.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
If we add up all our habits, that’s a pretty good description of who we are!
“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.”
- Norman Vincent Peale
I like this quote as it brings a sort of physical metaphor to our understanding of habits. We can all relate to the way that the more often you repeat a certain physical movement – such as the movements you make when learning a sport – the easier it gets.
“Habit is a great deadener.”
- Samuel Beckett
One of the negative consequences of habits – if applied to the wrong things, we become too unconscious and mentally ‘dead’ to those things.
“Each year, one vicious habit discarded, in time might make the worst of us good.”
- Benjamin Franklin
The long term, compounding benefits of gradually dropping one bad habit at a time. Just discarding one at a time is far more achievable than trying to make multiple changes at once.
“Habit is stronger than reason.”
- George Santayana
We are driven more by our habits than by conscious, logical reason.
“Character is long-standing habit.”
Again, re-enforcing the quote from Aristotle.
“I’m not a creature of habit. I like to find things from unexpected sources.”
In our search for ideas, we should avoid habit, as it can prevent us from seeing things afresh.
“Habit is something you can do without thinking, which is why most of us have so many of them.”
- Frank A. Clark
Thinking takes energy, so it’s natural for us (as our brains are always trying to save energy) to fall back on habits whenever we can.
“The unconscious mind has a habit of asserting itself in the afternoon.”
- Anthony Burgess
This quote intrigued me. I think what Anthony Burgess means is that by the afternoon his brain has less energy, and therefore falls back on habitual patterns of thinking.
“In all fields of creativity you see the result of work that has become a habit. Where the creative impulse has become flaccid or has died out altogether, and yet because it is our work and our life we continue to do it.”
- Daniel Day-Lewis
Again, habit can deaden creativity. Avoid falling into habits in areas where you need to be creative.
“We have seen from experience that, if we are in the habit of walking regularly on the same road, we are able to think about other things while walking, without paying attention to our steps.”
- Vinoba Bhave
Habits, because they use our subconscious, actually free up our conscious mind to think of other things.