Habit by William James - Summary

William James explains in a very concise way how humans form and retain habits and why it is so hard to change habits if we don't adhere to a set of guidelines which he outlines in his book.

[..] the phenomena of habit in living beings are due to the plasticity of the organic materials of which their bodies are composed.

We find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances, without any consciously formed purpose, or anticipation of results.

[..] habit diminishes the conscious attention with which our acts are performed.

The simultaneous combination of movements is thus in the first instance conditioned by the facility with which in us, alongside of intellectual processes, processes of inattentive feeling may still go on.

It is surprising how soon a desire will die of inanition if it be never fed.

Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain.

Every time a resolve or a fine glow of feeling evaporates without bearing practical fruit is worse than a chance lost.

Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little exercise every day.

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