Old habits die hard 英文諺語

Old habits die hard 固習難除

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People find it difficult to change their accustomed behavior; some conditions (addictions, for example) may appear to be “cured”, but are only waiting to resurface. “Old habits die hard” means that you must invest considerable effort in completely annihilating heavily entrenched ‘habits’. Although you may think you’ve “killed” a habit, in times of stress, you may find it rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

The phrase ‘old habits die hard’ is often used to excuse some behaviour that people wish they could stop. Though is there any truth behind this common phrase? I will discuss whether it is possible to break our old habits or whether they do indeed die hard.

When talking about habits, or habitual behaviour, I am referring to behaviours that are insensitive to reinforcer devaluation. By this I mean that an action, such as pressing a lever to gain a reward, continues even if the reward is no longer present or of value.

Many of our actions in typical daily life consist of habits such as washing our hands after going to the toilet. A lot of these behaviours are ‘neutral’ though they can be positive or negative actions. The phrase ‘old habits die hard’ is often used in conjunction with negative behaviours that can be detrimental to the individual or just no longer necessary. For example, smoking or biting their nails and laying the table for someone who has recently moved out, respectively.

EXAMPLE

“Kate retired last year, but she still gets up as early as she used to when she had to go to work. Old habits die hard.”

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Old habits die hard 固習難除

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