“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.” The power of Habit.
Habits are hard to break. Even the smallest things such as eating a piece of candy after every lunch is considered a habit and it is triggered by a set of behaviours that we may have installed subconsciously.
Exercise and food are driven by habits, and this may make us take good or bad decisions. According to Charles Duhigg on The Power of Habit our brain has a three step loop: A cue which is a trigger that makes our brain run on automatic. Then we enter the routine, which may be mental, physical or emotional. And most importantly, we then have the reward. This last part of the process tells our brain if this is worth remembering in the future. Meaning, how good or bad it made us feel every time depends on much it will install as a habit.
But don’t think for a second that habits can’t be changed. With a little bit of willpower and emotional intelligence, patterns can be broken. First of all, you have to detect those habits that are setting you back on a certain goal: Getting up too late, smoking after every meal, getting work done, watching TV instead of being physically active, etc.
In this sense, willpower has to be thought of as a muscle that has to be exercised, gets tired and has to be motivated.
To start creating new healthier habits, it is very important to replace old habits with new ones. Habits usually become and urge, so to think that you can just eliminate it is a grave mistake. Having this in mind, changing one habit for another increases the probabilities for success. For example, if your aim is to lose weight, you cannot just deprive yourself from snacking since it will just be the recipe for disaster. What you need to always have in mind is that you have this cues that trigger the snacking at various times a day. Instead of just eliminating it for good, you should change it for something else. For example, going on a walk, sitting down to read, write, or anything that you know that will distract you and that will certainly give you the same kind of reward that snacking gives you, but better! In the end there will be no guilt or self-loathing.
Don’t let old habits get in the way of creating new goals and setting up good things for your life. All habits can be broken and replaced for new things that will certainly add value to your life. Don’t forget that every time you learn a new good habit, you are on the road of becoming better for yourself and for the ones who are around you.
And if the people around you do not change their habits, and this harms you, continue with your plan and they will follow. It takes time, but good behaviours help change and improve your whole environment.