Our habits, the little rituals and routines that color us as individuals, couples, families and teams. There is a significant amount of research that explains the science behind why humans form habits. We’ll leave that discussion to the experts. That content might put you to sleep anyway. While ViscoSoft is all about great sleep, this is not the place for a conversation about biology and psychology.
We’re more interested in the fun, controversial, argument-inducing reasons habits are a significant part of us all. Each new day brings a considerable amount of uncertainty into our lives, and that uncertainty increases the moment we walk outside our homes into a large, complicated world. Thankfully all of us are capable of creating small, repetitive activities to help us feel stable and safe.
When questioned or challenged, many of us are ready to passionately defend our little traditions with logic, history, data even superstition and religion! Admit it, you’ve probably spent more than a few minutes over the course of your life drafting a defense for why the way you do it makes sense for you. Similar to intangibles like our personality and sense of humor as well as tangibles like our clothes, phone, and sunglasses our habits play a role in distinguishing each of us as an individual. And allowing anybody to criticize them is not something we take lightly.
What are the features of our habits create such value that they are routinely performed without having to think about the action itself?
Confidence: Habits are the subconscious shot of espresso we enjoy every morning before our feet hit the floor. As adults and even adolescents we appreciate the thought that no matter what happens there will be several events that unfold throughout the day that pleasingly align with the expectation we have for these events the moment we wake up. This reinforcement is one of several sources of positive feedback that enable us to take the risks, and embrace the challenges, capable of improving our person.
Order: Familiarity also creates order in our lives. This order allows us to efficiently perform several jobs for which each of us are responsible within a larger group. Habits deliver the certainty we need to complete these jobs correctly and independently.
Individuality: Let’s get back to defending our habits. One of the best aspects of habits is their comparability. When we visit the homes of family members we’re intrigued when we observe familiar routines, and puzzled when we realize the routine has a subtle but noticeable amount of difference. “Who taught you how to do it this way?” These are topics Thanksgiving dinners are made for! When chatting with friends or colleagues we compare different approaches to similar tasks and challenge the owner to ‘prove’ why her way makes more sense.
Continuity: When we leave the company of others, our habits offer inward challenges. For most of us, our rituals are harmless and amusing. For these types of habits the challenge is to respond with patience and tact when our routine is interrupted. Just because “your” coffee mug was used before you bellied up to the Keurig this morning does not justify cut-eyes or bad language. Take it in stride it. Breaking a routine once in a while provides the opportunities and experiences that make us more well-rounded people.
So let’s name, names. Have you ever stopped to think about your most rigid habits and routines? We’re not talking about whether you stop at a Starbucks or a Dunkin on your way to work after a great night of sleep. Or whether you read Apple news or the Wall St. Journal when your head hits the pillow. Those are brand preferences that impact individual levels of satisfaction. We’re talking about routines that, if changed, would have very little or even zero impact in our lives. But, despite negligible consequence seemingly never change.
Here’s our list…we challenge you to add more. It’s not as easy as you might think.
- 🍽️ The family dinner table. Everyone has their seat and it never changes. Even when someone is not home for dinner, the seat stays vacant. If it's so important, why doesn't it seem to matter as much when we dine out?
- 🚘 Parking at your home. Whether you have a garage or a driveway. Live alone or with your family. You have your spot and they have theirs. Forever more.
- 👗 Getting dressed in the morning. It’s a religious-type ritual for many. If the right sock goes on before the left or the belt gets put on before the shirt, who knows what could happen that day!
- 🍳 Most stoves have 4 burners. Some have more. When we only need one, do you have a favorite that you use every time? Us, too.
- 🧹 Chores. There always seems to be an order. Can we not clean the bathroom and then vacuum the family room?
- 🛌 And lastly, our favorite. The bed. We sleep on the same side of the bed every night. For those with a partner climbing into bed and camping out on the wrong side, even when sleeping away from home, is grounds for a night on the couch or worse. Why? What is so bad about the other side?
Think you have a few unique habits that top these? We'd love to hear them! Please share in the comments. We promise not to critique them too harshly.
The mystery behind which side of the bed we sleep on might be one we never solve. However, you can rest assured a night of great sleep is guaranteed on both sides of the bed with one of ViscoSoft's best mattress toppers.