Start a new (good) habit, kill an old (bad) one

Story highlights

  • 40% of our daily actions are so rote, they are automatic
  • The most effective way to adopt a habit is to replace a bad one with a better one

This essay is part of a column called The Wisdom Project by David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness. The series is on applying to one's life the wisdom and philosophy found everywhere, from ancient texts to pop culture. You can follow David at @davidgallan. Don't miss another Wisdom Project column; subscribe here.

(CNN)Odds are, you are trying to break a bad habit or institute a good one right now. As a species, we are impressively committed to self-improvement, and most of us believe that habits are an effective means to that end.

Habits -- actions performed with little conscious th