Sometimes you sense when it’s time to change. But the instigation of new actions can be a difficult and, on occasion, uncomfortable process for any individual. It may require deliberation when previously there was none, and the interruption of automatic unconscious routines to be replaced by something more conscious and controlled. Psychologists and other social scientists often talk about ‘habits’ and argue that we will save the planet only if we do something about the destructive and selfish habits of all of us. But I always find the concept of the ‘habit’ mildly disconcerting. Of course it reminds us that habits are forms of learned behaviour, not instinctual and not necessarily biologically programmed (although some may well be). The discourse about habits talks about ‘bad habits’, ‘breaking a habit’ and acquiring ‘new habits’, which is both positive and empowering. But my issue with habits is that I just do not see them as more or less behavioural accidents, reinforced in childhood by a contiguous maternal smile or by the sheer contingency of a sibling’s quiet look. They are more deeply ingrained than that, critically attached to aspects of the individual’s personality for sometimes inexplicable reasons. They are often bound up with something much deeper than chance behavioural contingencies, the way that some behavioural psychologists might have us believe.