Humans—Habitual Creatures

by: Josh Bryant

Jack Nicklaus is to golf as Popcorn Sutton is to Moonshine; both are the undisputed best of all time!

Nicklaus, the “Golden Bear”, was the best because he did not just dominate for a few years; he was consistent in winning the most majors a whopping 18 times and finished runner-up 19 times.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit,” says Aristotle, and this visionary decree described Nicklaus to a tee.

Jack the Lab Rat

Back in the day, in a high stakes tournament, an inquisitorial psychologist timed Nicklaus from when he pulled his golf club out of his bag  to when subsequently hit the ball.  Like clockwork, from the first green to the eighteenth hole the time never varied more than a second!   

The greatest golfer of all-time, Jack Nicklaus, like every human being, is a creature of habit!

Other Athletes

Great free throw shooters make every free throw look the same. The best powerlifter of all-time, Ed Coan, made every squat look the same.  Knowing you are creature of habit is a large responsibility but one that can be used as a synergetic force in your pursuit of excellence.

On the flip side, the person with a drinking problem, an emotional eater, or someone having problems choking when the game is on the line or FUBARing the big business deal, is also a habitual creature.

The good news is you can change habits for better or worse.

This is exciting for folks the late Rev. Robert Schuller characterized as “possibility thinkers” because there are no limits! 

 If you believe you are a sail in the wind of circumstances—the info I am about to relay is frightening. This supposition is false, you have the power to change!

Simply, if you can create useless habits, you can create useful habits.

Let’s take a look at five ways to eliminate useless habits and empower useful ones.

The Power of “I AM”

In Genesis 1:1, God created the heavens and the earth.  In Genesis 1:27 God created man is his own image.  God created the universe from nothing and breathed his DNA into you the pinnacle of his creation! With this son ship it means all things are possible. 

Some theologians are hell bent on trying to prove the historicity of supernatural events but overlook the significance of Exodus 3:14 where God identifies himself as “I am”, a name that signifies God’s identity and has no contradictions. 

With this mind when you say “I am” it needs to align with your highest self!

Begin with your self-talk, change the words that you use to define yourself. As you define your self-image you get to choose the words you implant into your subconscious mind. People can call you whatever they want but you do not have to answer!

No longer say, “I am incapable of bench pressing 400 pounds,” move to “I am capable.”

The words I am, which you consistently use to define who you are, take on ownership with no contradictions. 

I have no idea why sobriety programs say, “I am an alcoholic.” Why define yourself as an alcoholic? 

Save the “I am” for noble pursuits, the attainment of your highest self, not your worst habits. This will give you the freedom to lift yourself to never-imagined heights. 

I have a challenge for you. Every day when you urinate (so I am not adding any time to your day), say to yourself, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” If no one is around say it out loud (say it in your head if people are). If you are like me and couldn’t give a flying flip, say out loud regardless. Do this for 30 days.  See how you feel.

Identify Triggers

Identify—who, what, why, when and where.

1)    Are you more likely to engage in negative talk about others, or in general, when you are around certain people?
2)    What emotions encourage your worst habits?  Drinking to excess could be celebratory or drowning your sorrows—find what emotions cause your bad habits to tick.
3)    Who are you around when you experience these emotions? Is it a certain time of day, a certain person, a certain TV show? Figure out the trigger for these emotions.
4)    Examine your daily routine from what you do to what you say.  Furthermore, identify what situations cause the manifestation of bad habits.

Write down your answers to these four questions and you are on the way because identification ignites awareness, awareness is essential for elimination.

Clean House

Want to stop drinking liquor? 

Grab every drop of alcohol in your house and pour it down the drain.  Throw away the margarita glasses in the cabinet or anything you associate with alcohol—this goes far beyond limiting access to alcohol, this is cathartic.  

Subconsciously, this causes a huge “buy in”.

Want to get lean?  Don’t just stop buying junk food, throw away what you have.  If you live out in the country, BURN IT, it is even more powerful.

Extreme—yes! But, so are habits.  Identify and destroy enablers!

Swap It

As a teenager I trained at a gym that was next to a building where people outside were smoking like chimneys or drinking coffee like water.  Lo and behold, this was an AA Chapter; cigarettes and coffee replaced the “sauce”.  

If you are over consuming coke and want to stop, substitute it for water with lemon in it.  

Replace watching TV with reading books that help you improve yourself.  

Like dipping snuff?  If you like the feeling of moist tobacco in your mouth, since it’s an oral fixation, chew gum.  Figure out why you embrace a bad habit—if you like chips for the “crunch” carrots are a better alternative than a banana. 

Swap a bad habit for, minimally, a less destructive one and optimally a productive one that sparks improvement.

 Ease In

Some people benefit best from easing away from a bad habit.  This is a legitimate approach if the bad habit is not seriously destructive.  For instance, giving up coffee you could switch from half-decaf/half-regular, to eventually black tea and ultimately off tea.  This will eliminate brain fog and headaches.

Not ready to embrace a full-on meal plan?  Small things like eliminating sodas can make a huge difference.

Theoretically, this makes sense BUT most people are less “moderate” than they believe.  In fact, studies show obese people overwhelmingly under report what they eat; either by wishful thinking or dishonesty, who the hell cares– we are after results.  Easing in is productive if the bad habit is not one that opposes serious risk to you or others around you.

Jump In

The late, G. Gordon Liddy, the only person not to “rat” in the Watergate Scandal, even served prison time for sticking to his values.  

As a child, Liddy was afraid of the rodent type of rats.  To overcome this fear, Liddy caught a rat and ate it.  


Fear gone. Some psychologists call this technique flooding.

Jumping in is much like flooding.  To stop smoking, stop now!  No weaning, deal with withdrawals now and be done.  The beginning will be painful, but the process will be shorter.

Built-in bad habits are built in. 

Sometimes, instead of taking apart the building brick by brick, call in the demolition crew and make the process swift and severe.

Final Thoughts

Human beings are creatures of habit, plain and simple.  In the words of Socrates, “Know thyself.”   This will either serve as a catalyst to living your best life now or a door way to derelictry.  

Learn more about how Craig Monson used habits to become a champion bodybuilder HERE.