How Long It Takes to Form a New Habit
by Maria Popova Why magic numbers always require a grain of empirical salt. “We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle proclaimed. “Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state,” William James wrote. But how, exactly, do we rewire our habits once they have congealed into daily routines? We already know that it takes more than “willpower.” When he became interested in how long it takes for us to form or change a habit, psychologist Jeremy Dean found himself bombarded with the same magic answer from popular psychology websites and advice columns: 21 days. In a study carried out at University College London, 96 participants were asked to choose an everyday behavior that they wanted to turn into a habit. This notion of acting without thinking — known in science as “automaticity” — turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a central driver of habits. Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr
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