Philosophers believe it takes 20 days to break old habits and 20 days to form new ones. So does this mean in 40 days you can achieve transformation?
As a coach, mentor and healer I work with women all the time seeking life or career changes. And although it’s easy to initiate change, what is the secret – and is there one – to lasting change?
I’ve been researching how long it takes to achieve successful change and transformation, and it appears that 40 days is a magic number, with relevance across many of the world’s religions from pre-enlightenment fasting to prayer formulas to post birth purification.
It would seem that 40 days isn’t just a superstitious practice that permeates so many cultures, but in fact a period of time that allows transformation (renewal, repair, regeneration and rebirth) to occur.
There’s a universal understanding the world over of the significance that 40 days holds, so I have briefly noted some practices here:
Kundalini Yoga is known as the yoga of awareness because it uses physical movement, breathing and sound to directly affect ones consciousness, develop intuition, increase self knowledge, and unleashes the unlimited creative potential that exists within every human being.
In Kundalini yoga you practice for 40 consecutive days to make or break habits.
Forty days has sacred relevance throughout religion.
In Judaism, there’s a mystical practice that says one who seeks an answer to their prayers should pray the same prayer request for 40 consecutive days. Forty days also has significance for Christians who fast for 40 days during Lent.
As with many other cultures and religions around the world, including Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, in China a new mother is confined to her home for 40 days after she has given birth.
According to Chinese culture after the birth of a child the mother is at her weakest. She therefore stays at home whilst female members of the family take care of her and the child.
Similarly (if you are interested in spells) after giving birth a Zoroastrian woman remains secluded with her baby for 40 days in order to be purified from the impurities of childbirth. After the 40th day she takes a ritual bath that allows her to rejoin the wider community.
If we delve into psychology, researchers have found that personality can be changed through handwriting exercises over a period of 40 days. Although this is a bit worrying because my handwriting is getting worse with age, so not sure what that says about my psychological state!
And finally, in physiology, our skin cells on average take 40 days to renew, our red blood cells start dying from 40 days onwards and sperm count can be increased in 40 days.
Forty days holds both a mystical and practical significance to transformation.
By knowing how long it takes to change behaviour and create new patterns, we are *somewhat* more in control of achieving lasting change and transformation.
I’d love to hear from you: what are your secrets to making changes and new habits – and sticking to them? Please comment below.