How and Why We Form the Habits We Have


Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do? Why you celebrate some holidays but ignore others? Why you celebrate a particular holiday in a particular way? Why you always wear a particular type of outfit to certain events even when other people attending are wearing more casual comfortable clothes? Why you must cook a particular food a certain way even though the way you cook it does not really make any difference in the taste of the food and may even be more time consuming and difficult?

You may say it is a family tradition to always do a particular thing in a particular way. Or you may say you do something a particular way simply because you have always done it that way.

Here is a story of a young married couple I heard about a long time ago. I think this story embodies the way some people do things in their lives. Not everyone, but a lot of people do things a certain way without even knowing why, or if the way they are doing something makes any sense. It may even be something they hate doing, but feel they must do because “that’s the way I’ve always done it.”

Let’s call the young recently married couple John and Mary. Mary wanted to prepare a special meal for her new husband. She wanted to impress him with her culinary skills. So she planned a meal that would include a delicious pork roast flavored just right the way her grandmother who raised her had always done.

Mary divided the pork roast in half and put each half in a separate pan. Then she seasoned each half just the way her grandmother’s recipe directed. That evening when the pork roast was done baking and Mary had created some delicious side dishes to go with it, she and John sat down to a candlelight dinner together. The roast was indeed perfectly seasoned and John made sure to compliment his wife’s cooking several times as he tasted all the different dishes. He knew Mary had put a lot of time and effort into making this special meal just for him.

When they had finished their meal and were clearing things away, John said to Mary, “I’m curious. Everything was superb and I loved the roast you made with your grandmother’s recipe, but why do you divide the roast in half and bake it in two separate pans?”

Mary answered without hesitation, “ That’s the way Grandma told me she always baked it when she and Grandpa were first married.”

“But what does baking it in two separate pans do to enhance the flavor? Or is there some other advantage in baking it in two separate pans?” John pressed.

Mary admitted she didn’t know the answer to why her grandmother divided the pork roast into two sections and then baked each section in separate pans, and so it remained a mystery until one weekend when they were going to visit Mary’s grandmother.

John waited until after a delicious meal Mary’s grandmother had made was finished and they were having coffee and desert. “Grandma,” he said, “Mary makes the most wonderful pork roast and she uses a recipe she got from you. I don’t want to pry if it’s a family secret, but Mary always divides the pork roast in half and cooks each half in a separate pan. Could you tell me why you do that?”

Mary’s grandmother smiled. “Oh, I haven’t divided it like that in years, but I did tell Mary a long time ago that I used to do that when her grandfather and I were first married. You see, we didn’t have a lot of money when we first started out, and I didn’t have a pan that was big enough to put the entire roast in to bake it. So I divided it up and baked it in two separate pans.”

Mystery solved!

Rethinking Old Habits

There are lots of traditions that have been in our families for generations. We want to keep a connection between generations in our families and so continuing certain traditions to do that makes sense. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves doing things the same way and not even knowing why. It could be the fear of learning a new method or technology, or it could be that we just haven’t taken stock of exactly why we are doing something a certain way.

Doing something a particular way because we have always done it that way, even when it no longer makes sense to do it that way, or continuing to believe a certain thing that has been discovered to be incorrect long ago, can often be remedied by simply thinking it through. If the old way is no longer practical, or no longer necessary, then think about doing it differently – if you must continue to do it at all.

It never hurts to ask ourselves from time to time exactly why we are doing certain things, or thinking a certain way, just to make sure whatever we are doing/thinking still makes sense for ourselves and our families. There may be good reasons why we want to continue a particular tradition, or it may be that we need to bring ourselves up to date with a newer, easier, more convenient method of doing something, or it may be that we need to eliminate a particular habit entirely because it no longer makes sense.

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Comments 74 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas Author

Paul Kuehn, thank you for reading and commenting on this article, and for the votes and shares. Sometimes we like to keep the old traditions understanding that they may not be the most efficient. It's those times when we're trying to get something done in a hurry -- or just trying to get something done -- that may be hindered by methods we haven't really thought through. Glad you enjoyed!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas Author

Paula (fpherj48) thank you for reading and commenting on this article and for the votes, the pin and the Tweet!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 20 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Au fait.....This story is cute and fascinating at the same time. I can only guess this has hit home with so many of us. Some of the traditions and/or ceremony we adhere to generation after generation are as you state, "habit". "It's always been done this way."

The story you used to convey this is perfect, as well as funny. I think we'd be surprised to learn the "reasons" behind a lot of the things we simply do without question.....UP++++ pinned & tweeted.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Au fait, I really enjoyed reading this hub and especially the story about the roast pork. I am also guilty of doing things the way I learned from other people without questioning whether there is a better way to do things. Voted up as very interesting and sharing with HP followers and on Facebook.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas Author

Patricia (pstraubie48), thank you for the votes, pin, share, and always for the angels. I'm so glad you enjoyed this article! Hope you had a wonderful weekend.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida

I love the story about Mary, John, and Grandma's pork roast. How cute is that. And I so get it!!!

There are things I do certain ways particularly in the garden and flower beds because my Momma did them that way and for no other reason . It IS about the connection.

Great hub, AuFait

I am so glad I have come back to your pages..I learn so much and enjoy reading them...

Know that Angels are on the way this morning ps

voted up++++ pinned to Awesome HubPages and shared


Au fait profile image

Au fait 22 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W., thank you for sharing this article! Yes, it makes sense to take inventory regularly regarding ones habits and activities and even one's beliefs because things change so quickly these days.

Hoping your New Year is off to a great start too! Be sure to take time to smell the roses :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

This is a good time of year to share this once again when people are considering their new year resolutions. Never too late to assess habits and look at them with a clear eye. Hope your new year is getting off to a good start!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Brakel2, thank you for taking time to read and comment on this article. Glad you enjoyed. I do try to educate people and get them to think with most of my hubs, but I think my efforts have mixed results. ;) Thanks for the share too, and blessings to you also!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for Google+ing and sharing this article! Agree, that taking inventory regarding one's life and activities/behavior is a good thing. Sometimes we find we're just wasting time that could be utilized better.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Au Fait. This sounds like the story of why socks hanging on clothesline must face in same direction. It also reminds me about thinking outside the box. And if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got. I loved the story that stirs up thoughts. You sure know how to make people think. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this hub. Sharing. Blessings. Audrey


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Sometimes people should step back and analyze just why they are doing things in a certain way. Going to send this hub to G+ and once again share.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for sharing your thoughts on this issue that almost no one seems to take seriously. We are the architects of our lives and sometimes we need to clean up useless behaviors just like we clean up other things that do nothing but clutter up our lives.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for sharing your thoughts on this issue that almost no one seems to take seriously. We are the architects of our lives and sometimes we need to clean up useless behaviors just like we clean up other things that do nothing but clutter up our lives.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

With people making their New Year's resolutions in the next few days, I thought many of my followers would be interested in learning more about habits ... why we have them and re-thinking old ones ... before they try to establish new ones! Happy New Years!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Younghopes, thank you for stopping by and for sharing. Glad you enjoyed!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for pinning and sharing this article!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you moonlake for reading, commenting, voting on and pinning this article! Glad you enjoyed.


younghopes profile image

younghopes 3 years ago from India

Lovely and inspiring, sharing this one up


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

After reading this again I am now going to pin this to my Do you know this? board. Will also share again. Very interesting!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Great story I have never read this hub before. Voted up and pinned.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Rebeccamealey for reading, and voting on this article! Glad you found it interesting. :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Moonlake, thank you for reading and commenting on this article, and for voting on it and sharing it! Hope you found it thought provoking. :)


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

It certainly appears true that we are creatures of habit. Well done! Voted interesting and awesome and useful.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I have never been on this hub. Interesting and I have vote up and share it.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Sam, very sweet of you to say such kind words. I'm glad if you feel better because life is too short to dwell on the negative. You'll feel much better if you get some good sleep and maybe a snack before bed. ;)


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

Thank you very much Au Fait your daughter is truly blessed to have a mother as kind and loving as you and your kindness and love sometimes makes me feel better when I am sad.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Hackslap, thank you for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed.


Hackslap profile image

Hackslap 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Loved this post!..It does make you pause n think...


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for tweeting this hub!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Sam. Ideally both parents would be educated. Both men and women bring special qualities to a family, to children as their parents. Women who choose to breastfeed will find it more convenient if they don't have to mess with breast pumps, which is a good reason for them to stay home after baby is born. Also, since it is mom who went through child birth it makes sense for her to stay home and recuperate a bit rather than dad who did most of his bit at the very beginning. ;) He should have recuperated months before.

Are women superior to men? I don't think so. I think, as previously stated that we all have our contributions to make, our strengths and our weaknesses to compliment each other.

While I understand that mothers often hate war, I think the reality is that if women had the same power as men overall, they would be just as ruthless and vicious and awful. Individual women may resist war, but the same could be said of individual men. A lot of fathers hate sending their child off to war too, and as more women (daughters) go off to war father's may hate it even more.


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 3 years ago

Hey Au Fait just curious but what do you think of this article here. The guy in it makes women out to be superior than men in some ways would you say that's true or not.

http://hubpages.com/politics/Why-Women-Are-Not-Equ...


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Came back to tweet this hub as it is definitely thought provoking. You are getting some interesting comments.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting xstatic. Glad you enjoyed! I hoped it would give people something to think about. ;)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading, commenting, voting on, and especially for sharing this hub! Agree with everything you wrote. Sometimes we could save ourselves a lot of time and trouble if we knew why we were doing what we were doing. Maybe it's a worthwhile tradition and maybe it's a waste of time.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Really funny and quite educational as well. This is a very nice piece of work that illustrates hidebound traditions.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

You've explained a very useful point by a wonderful and appropriate story. This hub underlines a very important point; to understand the why of things and not follow things blindly.

On a larger canvas this would apply to traditions and customs as well since what was valid centuries ago due to the prevalent circumstances then, might not be valid at all today.

Good food for though, Au fait. Voted up, useful and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Shyron!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

You are welcome. This reminds me of my Grandmother.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping in Shyron. Glad you enjoy this story. I think it is very representative of how people decide how and what to do.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting, and voting on this hub! Yes, it never hurts to stop and think if what you're doing makes sense or is still meaningful.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you rebeccamealey for reading and commenting on this hub. I think the main reason old habits die hard is that so often we don't stop and think about what we're doing and why.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Still a fascinating story.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Cute story! I suppose old habits die hard!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

This was a cute tale but also illustrates a point of how some traditions may get started. It is good once in a while to step back and analyze how or why we are doing things the way we are. Up and useful votes.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Just a brief description of one of the ways traditions get started . . . thank you Shyron for reading and commenting.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

Interesting hub. Loved the story of John and Mary. Sounds like my grandmother.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for your comments Angel. I really just wanted people to stop and think about different things in their lives that they may be doing sort of on auto-pilot, whether it's cooking, decorating, celebrating, voting, or whatever. Things change and sometimes it's just good to take stock of why we do what we do and if it really makes sense or serves a good purpose.


Angel Mehsinjer profile image

Angel Mehsinjer 4 years ago from United States

This is an interesting hub. I guess it's true for lots of people that sometimes we do things without even wondering if it's the right thing to do or if it makes any sense. I've noticed a lot of Democrats vote the way they do because their family always voted that way. Maybe Republicans do that too. I know you weren't writing about politics, sorry. Good hub though.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Richard: Thank you for your comments. Agree with you that with most people, the older they get, the less they like change.

As a psyc major, I'm told men dislike change more than women, or don't handle it as well, but personally, I think it depends on what the change is as to how well one sex or the other handles it well.

With so many people, I think they just do not question why they are doing something and if there might be a better way, etc.


Richard T. Dagenais 4 years ago

The mystery was surprising and yet, simple. But to that point, I consult people on PC's and the Internet, and this happens all the time. People just don't change how they do things, even when I enlighten them. I think the older one gets, the harder it is to change, no matter their understanding. I am 70 and constantly change but I have been exposed to computers for 41 years, so it is easy to change, Most people my age, just don't like change, they are not comfortable out of their "box of sameness". I really enjoyed this story and your thoughts of it's meaning. Two thumbs up, and all that.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Pcunix: Agree with everything you said. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

The lack of simple intelligence exhibited by "Mary" hits a sore spot for me. I see that all too often: unthinking adherence to a method or belief that makes no sense.

"Tradition" is fine when we know it is tradition. Our great-grandparents had to use candles, we find them romantic, but we realize that there are ways to have a much brighter setting.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines" (Mr. Emerson, of course)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you KayBe for taking time to read and comment on my hub. Glad you enjoyed it!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Vapid Maven: Glad things worked out for you with the emergency brake. Thanks for reading and making comment!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Molometer: Thank you for reading my hub and making comments. Cognitive therapy IS great! It's always good to indulge oneself in a little self examination from time to time.


KayBe profile image

KayBe 5 years ago from Scotland

Very interesting, voted this hub up without a doubt,

simple but effective :)


Vapid Maven profile image

Vapid Maven 5 years ago from California

Great hub! I just went through this sort of recently. The emergency brake cable broke on my truck broke. When I posted on facebook how much it was going to cost to fix it almost all my friends were like, man.. You live in the valley, why do you even engage your e-brake? It's because I just always have. Haha! I don't do it anymore unless parked on a hill.. Thanks for the read!


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago

Interesting, useful and funny voted up and shared with followers.

It's the simple things that trip people up and examining our actions is always a good thing.

'A life unexamined is not worth living' is how Bertrand Russell put it.

Isn't cognitive therapy great.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

I agree that for a variety of reasons people are afraid to do things different from the usual -- when they bother to think about it.

Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub, Ercolano. I appreciate your contribution!


Ercolano profile image

Ercolano 5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

I loved this, as a free spirit, I don't go out of my way to do things different, I just always have, perhaps to my detriment. But I am forever pointing out to people why should they have to live by certain rules, traditions, religion even because of how and where they were raised and into what families. Ask yourself why, I say; make your own mind up about what you should beleive. It simply alienates me further. I knew the answer to the pot roast before I got to the end, and I thought it a very cute story. Nice work.


leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Great story. We do need to step back from out habits every now and then.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Tony, for taking time to read and comment on my hub. Glad you enjoyed the story.


Tony 5 years ago

I loved the story, I kept thinking that the reasons for the two pans was that oven was too small but it turned out to be the pans being too small...that's great!!! :-)

As always...great reading!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you, Bill & Dorothy, for reading my hub and for taking the time to make thoughtful comments.


Bill Clark and Dorothy 5 years ago

The article is well written and touches on an area where people are somewhat interested in the topic and want to see where the article will take them. Traditions have value and tend to provide roots and meaning to our individuality and our togetherness as a family, as an extended family and at times, as a culture. Oftentimes the culture we enjoy is founded in a marriage of cultures or families. Sometimes, we are responsible for establishing some new traditions that tie us together with friends and loved ones.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Monjur, for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

Thank you JenJen0703 for your honesty and insight.

Thank you Stan Good for taking time out to read and comment.


Stan Good 5 years ago

I found this article very interesting and amusing..


JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

This was a nicely-written, nostalgic piece. The answer to the mystery was surprising.


Monjur 5 years ago

very good...but voluminous in the beginning !


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Johnny Windows for taking time to read and comment on my hub.

Thank you PeanutButterWine, for stopping by and sharing the family superstition about shoes on the table. It's probably only bad luck if you forget to clean the table well before eating at it. ;)

Thank you Dave Carr, for your insights as well.


Dave Carr 5 years ago

Like PeanutButterWine the end was a surprise for me too although I should have suspected something like this from past readings. Well done a good read.

It is thought that shoes collect all sorts of dirt while one is on ones travels and putting shoes on the table transfers dirt and germs to the eating area.


PeanutButterWine profile image

PeanutButterWine 5 years ago from North Vancouver, B.C. Canada

That was a surprise! I was waiting for the bomb to drop thinking.. she was slowly poisoning her husband? Or, my husband hates pepper/spices so I do one half differently.. but nope.. just the pan.. haha.. Good read!

FYI: My Mothers Father instilled a fear of 'shoes on a table' for superstition in all five of his kids. They,in turn, instilled the fear of shoes on a table being unlucky into all their kids and grandchildren, and nobody can remember why that is considered 'unlucky'!!


jonny windows 5 years ago

i could almost TASTE that roast meal !

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