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MONDAY, MONDAY


Remember the Mamas and Papas singing “Monday, Monday so good to me, Monday morning all I hoped it would be.” This worked out to be that kind of Monday morning. Bright sunshine, a door and window open day. a few selected trees showed the possibility of green growth.

Since Maty left suddenly, we are back to cleaning house once more. You never forget how. Dr.A is often looking for something to do, which isn’t easy once the gardening is taken care of by someone else, so he took over mopping and polishing miles of tile floor this morning. I tackled bathrooms. I told him that there is always something to do around the house. If I play this right I may have the only handsome 91 year old housekeeper in the neighborhood. People will be begging for his services.

Some younger people seem to think people older than themselves have nothing to do. The truth is that age has nothing to do with it. You still have a lot to do, but you do it slower.

Charlie has been given a blue pill to take for a month for an obscure internal problem. It is supposed to be given with his breakfast food, but I found it tucked neatly against the side of the bowl, so I began wrapping it in a dab of cream cheese. Like Mary Poppins said “Just a spoonful of sugar—“. This Morning Dr. A proudly said he had tried to give it to him in three different cheeses to no avail. However, I saw the remnants of the cheeses he turned his nose at. One was ricotta, another was sour cream, and the third was a half empty bag of mozzarella. Charlie is an intelligent dog and waited for the cream cheese.

I wrote a post some time ago about how long it takes to form a habit. It was interesting to read the other day that some experts still often say 21 days. The real answer is more complex.
I looked for an answer the same way most people do these days. I asked Google. Most of the top results referenced the same magic 21 days. These websites maintained that ‘research’ had found that if you repeated a behavior each day for 21 days you would have formed a brand new habit.
There wasn’t much discussion about what type of behavior it was or the circumstances you had to repeat it in, just the same figure of 21 days. Exercise, smoking, writing a diary or turning cartwheels; you name it 21 days is the answer. In addition, many authors recommend that it’s crucial to maintain a chain of 21 days without breaking it.

Thanks to recent research though, we have some idea of how long common habits really take to form. In a study carried out at University College in London, 96 participants were asked to choose an everyday behavior that they wanted to turn into a habit. They all chose something that they didn’t already do that could be repeated every day; many were health related like eating a piece of fruit with lunch or running 15 minutes after dinner. Each of the 84 days of the study they logged into a website to report their findings. Acting without thinking or ‘automaticity’ is a central component of a habit.

So how long did it take to form a habit? Across the board it took 66 days until a habit was formed depending on what activity each tried to do. People who resolved to drink a glass of water after breakfast were up to automaticity after about 20 days while people who tried to eat a piece of fruit with lunch each day too twice as long. The exercise was the trickiest, with 50 sit ups after morning coffee still not a habit after 84 days. Walking for 10 minutes after breakfast turned into a habit for one participant in 50 days.

This research seems to say that habits are slow to form and some might even take as long as a year. In my own case, things such as drinking water or exercising a certain time each day, while once being considered habits, are now occasional activities. However mysterious it may be; when we moved into this house 44 years ago, we had a light switch moved from one side of a door to another. This was accomplished in a matter of a few days during a remodel, however, I still reach for the original place to turn the light on. That habit had only taken a few days.

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14 comments on “MONDAY, MONDAY

  1. So true, Kayti. A good post.
    Routine is what begets habits. A standing ovation for Dr A mopping the floors. Tell him I do the vacuuming, year in year out. Charley looks pretty confident sprawled on the floor. Is he taking his medication?
    I am trying to form a habit in getting used to drink tea and forego coffee. I hope it will sort out an internal problem that is not so obscure. I am on my fifth morning sipping tea instead of lovely coffee.
    It ain’t easy.

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    • This study didn’t tell how to stop a habit, just how to form a new one. Good luck. I don’t drink coffee, though I like lattes, etc. We have a cup of tea every afternoon. Just a way to unwind I guess.
      I wasn’t kidding, I still occasionally reach for an absent light switch after all these years. I am a procrastinator, so that would be a good place to start to form a new habit, but then again, life is so comfortable just the way it is.

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  2. I can’t claim that I have only good habits, but as I age, I think I have eliminated most bad habits, or at least minimized them. I resist drinking plain water, no matter how often I try to make it a habit. So I drink herbal tea instead—probably just as good for me!

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    • I don’t know why so many people resist drinking plain water. It actually tastes so good, and they say all older people are dehydrated. It would be such a simple thing. At the end of the day I ruminate over exactly how much liquid I have had including milk, tea, latte, orange juice. Water always ends up as a few sips now and then, mostly with pills. Maybe today will be better.

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  3. Interesting. Wouldn’t motivation have something to do with it? Or, maybe adrenaline? l have to agree with you about having less energy. I feel like I have half the energy I used to have and get less than half accomplished

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    • I’m laughing because it’s the same here. When Dr. A retired, I seemed to get less time to work because I was splitting my time. As time went by we both slowed down and it’s a wonder we get anything done. We developed two new habits too: we get up later and retire earlier.

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  4. Your lightswitch comments reminded me of something in my own life. When I begin working on a new boat — sailboats are the worst — there’s a period of time when I come home covered in little scrapes and bruises. I never know where they come from, or when I got them. But after some time — maybe two weeks, or three, or more — I suddenly don’t have any more scrapes and bruises. I’ve adjusted, and am working around the rigging and such, instead of running into it.

    Since I never know what’s causing the injuries, I can’t intentionally try to avoid them. The adjustment process is wholly unconscious — but there’s no question that it happens.

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    • I totally understand. Since my leg surgery last year, my legs have small areas of scabs but I have not bumped, hit or scratched anywhere. They come and go. Ask a doctor and they don’t know either. Since it’s nearly St. Patrick’s day we can blame the leprechaun!

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  5. Hi Aunt Kayti, I am sorry to hear that Maty left. Why did she leave? Even though you can do this, you shouldn’t have to be doing it. I hope Cori and Jan will endeavor to find you someone new to help. Regarding Charlie’s refusal to take a pill, there are these Pill Pockets that seem to work. They are at most vet offices. With my old Rottweiler Udo, who sounds just like Charlie, we gave him a pill encased in peanut butter. That’s the one good thing about having a Labrador. The EAT ANYTHING. I just put Dinah’s morning pill in her kibble and whoooooshhhh…it is GONE.

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    • I remember Udo. Boy dogs are just like boy people—stubborn at best. Charlie always takes one with cream cheese wrap–just like p.b.

      Maty needed more work than I could give her. We parted friends. At some point we will need someone with more medical experience I presume. She didn’t have that. For the present, it’s great exercise for both of us.

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      • I agree! I washed both of our cars last weekend because the car wash was jammed. What terrific exercise! My arms were sore for two days and the cars looked great.

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  6. My dad used to give our lovely Lassie her tablet in a rollo (do you have rollo’s in the US? Just in case here is an explanatory link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolo ). Of course now we know that chocolates are no good for dogs, but as he and she were ignorant of this it didn’t seem to matter. And I am sure he ate the odd one or ten himself. They were no good for him either!

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  7. I absolutely do remember The Mamas & the Papas. They were one of my favorite groups during my high school years.

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  8. The information you provided on habits is so interesting to me. I’ve frequently and lazily wondered how long it takes to build a positive habit and to break a negative habit, but have never bothered actually researching either. And here you come to the rescue. Thank you, Kayti. Did your research turn up anything about time required to break a habit, or am I on my own with that one?

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