I’m reading this book called ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg and it says that a lot of who we are is actually due to habits. Usually, when we think about people or even ourselves, we think in terms of values and character and hence think in terms of fixed ideas. For example: We say that an unethical person does what she does because of her beliefs or because “She is not a good person.” But what if it’s about habits too? The book says that brain is neutral..and so are habits. The brain doesn’t know whether a habit is good or bad…all it cares about is saving energy. Habits save energy. Imagine making decision for every small thing …it’s too taxing, right? That’s why we have habits. There is a lot of Science, Psychology and Neuroscience in the book and basically, all the three areas say that you cannot actually erase old habits from your brain. In a way, it’s a good thing because if you don’t remember things like driving, you would have to learn the whole thing again. In a way, it’s bad because not-so-good habits won’t die. But there is hope: you can replace the old habits in a way that they won’t bother you. I’m not even half way through the book and yet, I have gained so much from it. I will be writing more about it when I finish it but for now, it got me thinking about pride and how it’s related to building good habits.
When I analyze by own bad habits, obsessions and addictions, I feel that pride is one of the things that can help us in getting out of bad habits. When you are addicted to something, you are not in control and nobody likes to feel this way. No one likes to get addicted. You may derive pleasure but pride, unlike egotism, is necessary for survival. Like they say, the greatest pain is when you ‘fall’ in your own eyes..when you cannot respect yourself.
The more you get addicted, the less you actually care about the pleasure that you get from the thing you are addicted to. It becomes more of a habit. This inability to kick out an old habit and stick to a new healthy one makes you feel bad about yourself. It is a great threat to confidence.
There was a a time when I equated pride with egotism but they are clearly different. Pride has got nothing to do with others…it’s about your own expectations from yourself and how you fulfill them. Nobody else can know whether something is an accomplishment for you or not because no one can completely know what exactly you went through to accomplish it.
On the other hand, when you are not proud of yourself, you try really hard to impress others. When you have nothing to be proud of, you try really hard to associate yourself with others who have accomplished something. That’s why you see people reacting in weird ways when somebody points out a flaw in their country, religion, etc.
When we are addicted, one thing that may help us is to understand that in the things we are doing in the short term and are not something we want in the long term. At the end of the day, what matters is whether we feel proud of ourselves or not.