Gretchen Rubin

Agree, Disagree? Habits Tend To Deaden Experience.

Agree, Disagree? Habits Tend To Deaden Experience.

“Hence every thing, that is new, is most affecting, and gives us either more pleasure or pain, than what, strictly speaking, naturally belongs to it. When it often returns upon us, the novelty wears off; the passions subside; the hurry of the spirits is over; and we survey the objects with greater tranquility.”

-- David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, 2.3.5

This is a striking thing about habits -- they tend to deaden. For better and for worse.

If there's something that's unpleasant, that makes us uneasy or angry, we tend to have a lesser reaction as the behavior becomes a habit. When I started blogging, I felt very anxious every time I posted, because I didn't quite know what to do. But as I got in the habit of writing every day, the anxiety wore off.

If there's something pleasant, we also tend to have a lesser reaction as the behavior becomes a habit. That early-morning coffee was a treat when it was a new thing, but once it became a habit, I hardly noticed it, except to be frantic when I didn't get my coffee.

I try to offset this effect, with some of my pleasant habits, by trying consciously to revel in why it gives me pleasure.

How about you? Have you noticed that habits weaken your emotional response to an activity?

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