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.