“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Does it really only take 21 days to form a new habit?
The notion of the 21-day habit rule all started with Maxwell Maltz. As a plastic surgeon in the 1950s, Maltz began to notice a strange pattern among his patients. When he gave a patient a nose job, it would take about 21 days for the patient to get used to the sight of their new face. When he amputated a patient’s arm or leg, it would be about 21 days of sensing a phantom limb before totally adjusting to the new situation.
In such, Maltz started to spread the common myth that’s still widely referenced today: it takes 21 days to form a new habit.Although Maltz only really said it takes a “minimum” of 21 days, people forgot about that part and continued to spread the myth anyway. The sad reality is that forming a new habit isn’t that simple. On average, it takes more than 2 months before a behaviour become automatic – 66 days to be exact (x). To further complicate the matter, how long it takes to form a habit depends on the circumstances – the behaviour, person involved, situation, etc.
Don’t be discouraged.
Embracing this longer timeline helps us in realizing that forming habits is a process – not just an event. Whether forming the habit takes 20 or 200 days, it boils down to your commitment. The development of a good habit involves putting in the work and dedicating yourself to the process.
Habits don’t get formed on their own and there’s science to support this (x). If you want the habit to form, it’s vital that you understand why and how this habit is important to you. You’re the one holding yourself accountable for staying on track. And in doing so, it’s imperative that you become your own best friend. Let your motivation come from a deep sense of love and caring to see yourself become the best you can be.
Scientists say that habits emerge because the brain continues to look for ways to save effort. An efficient brain requires less room and forming a habit allows the mind to ramp down more often. Our brain’s effort-saving instinct has been broken down by scientists and divided into 3 steps. We refer to this neurological process as the three-step loop of habit formation:
1. First – there’s a cue that tells your brain to go into automatic mode for that habit.
2. Second – there’s a routine which can be physical, mental, or emotional.
3. Third – there’s a reward which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering in the future.
Overtime, this loop – cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward – becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward start becoming so intertwined that a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. And just like that, a habit is born.
For example – let’s apply this to wanting to create a meditation habit. The cue would be to have that designated spot in your house where you know this is where you will go when you want to practice mediation. The routine, for example, is showing up every morning for fifteen minutes to meditate. The reward is the feeling of space, clarity and grounding that you get from your regular meditation practice. This exact sort of spiritual routine is what yogis call Sadhana. Check out the Creating a Sacred Space video on Practice Shraddha because it’ll will guide you to create that space in your house so you can easily cultivate your meditation practice.
Yoga Sadhana is the “spiritual practice” of pursuing a goal.
In Sanskrit, the word “Sadhana” translates to “an effort exercised toward the achievement of a purpose”. In every one of your efforts, you perform Sadhana – it all leads to the achievement of some intended goal.
When you perform a Sadhana, you commit yourself to putting yourself first. You actively allow yourself to grow further in your yoga practice by discipling yourself to practice it regularly. By quieting down your mind and bringing you inner peace, your regular yoga practice will help in building your self-discipline.
The first aspect of Yoga Sadhana is to choose to practice. The second aspect is committing to regularity. At Practice Shraddha, we have all the content that you need to make your yoga practice into a regular life habit. Whether it’s starting your morning with meditation, journaling, a yoga flow, or breathing class – we have it all. If you haven’t tried out your free 7-day trial yet, click here to start your Sadhana and make Practice Shraddha your new favorite go-to for your daily physical and spiritual routine.