Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breaking Those Bad Habits

Dear Madame L,

I have a question about establishing habits. I have often heard it said that if I repeat an action every day for 21 days, that action will become a habit in my life. I'm wondering how we know that to be true? Is there a scientific study about it?

I'll tell you what I heard once. I heard that people who have had a limb amputated forget that they no longer have the use of that limb, and they try to use it before remembering that they can't, and that it takes about 21 days for a person in that situation to remember to not try to use that limb.

Well, even if that story were true, can it really be used as evidence that someone like me, who isn't forced by circumstances to change her ways, can will herself to do things differently through repeated behavior over a period of 21 days?

Wondering about Those Habits 

Dear Wondering,
It's true! Madame L assures you that it's possible to establish a new habit with 21 days of working on it.

She knows this because she herself has done it quite often, sometimes consecutively, i.e., sometimes right after breaking the hard work of a previous 21-day stretch of good-habit formation.

Madame L wishes you all the best of luck in your effort to establish new habits.

Keep us posted! 

Yours in self-improvement,

Madame L

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