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Are You A Creature Of Habit?

Aug 17, 2007
Do you wash your face before you brush your teeth, put cream in your coffee before sugar, read the entertainment section of the newspaper before the sports?

When someone holds out a hand, we shake it. When someone sneezes, we say bless you. When someone is behind us, we hold the door for him or her.

Supermarket owners know we're creatures of habit. That's why they change the layout in their markets. If we walk past new items, we might buy them. The same philosophy applies to coupons. Manufacturers use coupons to bribe us to try something new.

On the other hand - yes, the one with the remote control in it - television networks take advantage of our being creatures of habit. They lead in to less popular shows with popular shows, counting on us not to change the channel.

Unfortunately, habits don't cross over into other parts of our lives. We bend over to pick up a lucky penny, but not dirty clothes. We talk to strangers on vacation, but not in an elevator.

We automatically respond to street signs - but only on the street. A yield sign doesn't work on our bathroom door and a one-way sign doesn't work in my office.

Psychologists say it takes three weeks to break a habit, but a positive act has to be substituted for the one you're trying to stop. If you're trying to stop swearing, whistle "Dixie" every time you're tempted to use profanity. If it doesn't work, well damn - you tried.

If my family tried to put things back where they belonged for three weeks or turned off the lights when they left a room, I might be able to break the habit of nagging in those same three weeks.

However, it seemed to take longer than three weeks to teach my sons to habitually say please and thank you. Because they're males, I didn't try to teach them to say I'm lost.

According to Webster's Dictionary, addiction is a synonym for habit. I disagree. Betting the same numbers on the lottery is a habit. Betting too much too often is an addiction.

When it comes to lotteries - habit or addiction - I'm not sure where my friend fits. Because his numbers have never won, he's leaving them in his will for his children.

Yes, we're all creatures of habit. Unfortunately, remembering where I put my keys isn't one of mine.
About the Author
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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