Self Improvement Skills

How To Give Up Bad Habits And Pick Up Good Habits


We are what we repeatedly do.

- Aristotle


1. Habits (definition): Habits are our choices that are now running on autopilot, we don't think about these routine action as we do these everyday. Our brain functions in a way that it makes all routines into a habit, taking the 'lazy way out'. The brain helps create a habit and stops thinking about it anymore.


2. The habit loop: All habits are said to consist of three things,


- a cue (something that triggers your habit) - morning waking (coffee)


Experiments show that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories:

Location - Time - Emotional state - Other people - Immediately preceding action


- a routine (the actual habit), and


- a reward (what keeps the habit thrive) - the sweet taste of sugar and bitter-like coffee.


3. How to control a habit:


Since the brain is running on autopilot, as far as that habit is concerned, the first task is find out our cravings (need for sugar intake, nicotine in our blood etc), and then to list all the things we often guilty about. This list increases by size as we age.


Trust me, this writer knows.


After finding your cravings: Pick one habit and find out what triggers that action and what reward we expect to get after doing it.


And then analyze the reward: (coffee) Is the sweet+ bitter taste really worth it? There must be many tastes better than this taste.


Next, don't just try to change the habit. You are just telling your brain that you are now aware of this daily action running on autopilot.


Awareness is the first step. Experts call this 'awareness training'.


Slowly, you will try to look for options, try out replacements, and hopefully you are picking healthier options. See if you can stick with the new habit. Set up some motivating rewards that will help you stick with the change.


Also, set up a different cue for the new habit. For example, you have decided to give up your morning coffee. Why not change with change with afternoon pro-biotic yoghurt?


Basically, we are reverse-engineering the habit formation here.


In short, to change habits:

- Identify the routine

- Experiment with rewards

- Isolate the cue

- Have a plan


'After I (existing habit), I will (new small behavior).'


Killing bad habits (Habit reversal training)


4. You can never truly extinguish bad habits.


Instead, to change a habit, you should keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.


(Source: 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg)


5. Make the bad habit inconvenient.


For example, move the coffee machine away from a power outlet.


6. Don't make a big habit change all at once. (The cognitive overload will cause your brain to 'relapse')


Chunk it. Change one part of the habit at a time - e.g. change the cue

- See what happens when you try to have the first coffee of the day in afternoon.


7. Use small changes to remove the obstacles preventing you from having good habits.


'I don't have a juicer at home' - Immediately replace your coffee machine with a juicer. This will not change your habit but it is a start.


8. Track your action (and write it down)

Researchers found that when the hugely unreliable drug addicts wrote down when and where they would write a 5-para essay, there was 90% chance of them actually finishing the essay.


Researchers have also found that dieters who track what they ate every day, were able to have more control over their diet.


9. Give yourself credit (positive reinforcement)


Be easy on yourself. Habit changing is tough. But at least you have made a start - found the cue and the rewards.


10. Clean slate start


One research showed that the time of moving (changing homes) is a useful time to change habits. New job, new city and things like these are great opportunities to give up on the 'old ways', and start anew.


11. Fail 'small, not big'

We already talked about starting the habit changing process in small steps. This also means it will be easier for you accept your 'failures'.


If you went back to morning coffee, you can get back to afternoon probiotic yoghurt. You don't need to say, 'I'll try again tomorrow.'


Finally, remember this: Many habits form instantly, but some habits resist for months on.


Morning coffee may be an easy habit to change.


Google search 'bad habit examples' and 'good habit examples'.


Also Google search 'habits of successful people' -and find out morning routines and work routines of successfully people.


Thank you for reading.
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