I’m bouncing between several books here but there’s an overarching theme. We’re talking about habits and it’s important to know just how critical they can be in the grand scheme of things.
Studies suggest that 40% of our daily actions are habits. Only 60% of what we do are true conscious decisions. We take that into account when we look at this next study talked about in Atomic Habits.
During the Vietnam war it was believed that as much as 35% of the troops stationed there tried heroine. It was estimated that about 20% were addicted. When those soldiers returned home, only 5% remained addicted with only 12% relapsing in the following three years. That’s completely opposite of normal addict behavior where normally 90% of addicts coming out of rehab will relapse.
Think about it. 9 of 10 soldiers kicked the habit almost overnight.
The cues that were the initial drivers of the addiction were gone when they left that environment while most coming out of rehab go right back to the same environment and essentially fall prey to the same triggers all over again.
By identifying and correcting these cues/triggers it becomes easier to stop ways of turning these habits around. If these soldiers from Vietnam could drop an addiction then it makes sense that we can learn from this to much simpler habits. We just have to become aware of the triggers that initiate the action we want to stop.
We’ll dive more into habit correction and habit rehabilitation in later posts but for now, it’s important to see the implications here.