Does it really take 21 Days to Form a Habit?
An interesting conversation arose the other day about habits. In this it was quoted that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Have you ever wondered where this 21 day figure came from? Have you ever considered the limitations this very belief imposes?
It appears this was first by cited by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who wrote Psycho-Cybernetics back in 1960. The book itself is excellent, and in that he discussed the importance of one’s self-image and how that impacts their life. In his studies, he stated that it seemed to take approximately 21 days to create change in one’s mental image. He also studied people before/after physical alterations and found it took around 21 days for the average patient to get used to their physical changes from plastic surgery.
Since then, many others have continued to recite this 21 days figure, stating that it takes 21 days to form or change a habit. The results however seem to vary based on the individual, which is likely due to the level of the belief accepted. For if you believe it will take you 21 days to change or form a habit, you will act out according to your belief, causing you to take 21 days to change or form a habit.
Quite often we accept beliefs from others, not always seeing the limitations it imposes upon ourselves. As we go deeper into the power of the mind and beliefs, we become more aware of the importance of really questioning them. This just allows for you to change the beliefs that are limiting or holding you back and embrace the beliefs that benefit you. The more we question the greater our awareness expands and in that our ability to filter out any limiting beliefs.
Where habits originate from…
As revealed in various placebo studies the subconscious mind is extremely powerful. While your subconscious is habitual by nature, everything starts as a cycle of thoughts, triggering physical actions (if required) and thereby forming a belief and habit. A habit is really nothing but a cycle of thoughts. Therefore, as quickly as you can change and direct your thoughts you can change your habits.
This process is greatly enhanced by learning how to relax your body and quiet your mind. One very effective technique is through a daily Meditation practice. Just a few minutes a day over a short period of time will provide you the ability to learn how to quiet your mind and relax your body. It’s through a relaxed, quiet state of mind that helps you change limiting beliefs within minutes. You can also combine techniques such as self-hypnosis as outlined in The Genie Within: Your Subconscious Mind, with your meditation practice.
History and the power of beliefs…
We see this all over the world throughout history on the impact and power of beliefs. For example, the 4-minute mile was first achieved by Roger Bannister in 1954. Prior to that, for nine years several athletes tried to break the four minute barrier which was said to be “physically impossible”. Roger pushed beyond the belief and broke the record by running the mile in just under four minutes at 3:59. In doing this the global belief of it being ‘physically impossible’ was shattered and within two months his record was beaten by several others. The result of Rogers record made it “possible” in the minds of others.
Another example by Jospeh Murphy, points out the power of the mind, through various hypnosis tests. In this particular study, a patient was hypnotized to believe that he would be touched by a hot iron and instead was touched by the hypnotherapists finger. The patient felt pain as though he was burned and actually formed a blister. In this case the patient ‘believed’ he was touched by a hot iron and the body responded accordingly.
Bruce Lee also stressed the importance of questioning everything, even the traditional teachings that are passed down and impose limitations. Lee himself suffered an injury and was informed by medical professionals that he would never be the same again. Lee spent six months healing his body, reading and reflecting on the power of the mind, and his skill actually improved from what it was before the injury. During this time Lee was able to reflect on martial arts and life, leading to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and many other books later compiled.
These are but a few of many stories throughout history that reveal the power of the mind. We are simply as powerful as we believe ourselves to be. The more we reflect on our beliefs and our abilities, the greater we expand and awaken that power within us. As you throw out all limiting beliefs you allow yourself to go beyond all self-imposed limitations and achieve what many define as impossible.
Until next time,