WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS

The nature of bad habits makes them irresistible to our basal ganglia, where all habits live. Our primitive brain is a sucker for a quick payoff.
Why do we allow bad habits to happen? When we are stress or not paying attention, our subconscious mind will choose bad habits over good ones. Every bad habit provides an immediate benefit. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t repeat them. When we are feeling tired and stressed, we are particularly susceptible to them. When our body’s cortisol levels are raised, our mind shifts from a pause-and-plan state to a more impulsive fight-or-flight condition. Our primitive brain takes control and seeks quick satisfaction. Our primitive brain isn’t concerned with abstract ideas or our long-term goals; it is in tune with our body’s sensations. We have one brain but two minds. One is driven by emotions, the other by logic. Which is in charge at any given moment is dependent on our stress levels. Stress triggers a fight-or-flight response that puts our impulsive mind in the driver’s seat. Relaxation, on the other hand, shifts us to a state of pause-and-plan. When you are about to give in to temptation, taking, a few deep breaths has been shown to improve our self-control.  Continue reading WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS

Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

Willpower is not an effective long-term strategy for behavior change because it is inconstant. When we are stressed-out, tired, and hungry our willpower will leave us vulnerable to any temptations we encounter. Fortunately for us the more committed we are, the less willpower we will need. Shaping your environment will shield you from temptation.  By removing the temptations that reward bad habits, we can extinguish them without exerting our willpower. It doesn’t require willpower to shape our environment. It requires commitment. Continue reading Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

A Practical Framework for Behavior Change

He reverses these four laws to break a bad habit.  Make the Cue invisible, the Reward unattractive, the Routine harder to execute, and the Reward unsatisfying. He does a fantastic job of providing practical suggestions on how to accomplish each law.[i] James Clear’s book complements Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. The Power of Habit helps us to understand habits, but it isn’t a manual for behavior change. Atomic Habits fulfills that role, providing actionable strategies in a simple to follow format. This book has an even narrower focus. It seeks to combine the strategies of behavior change with tactics designed to produce a leaner fitter body. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu Continue reading A Practical Framework for Behavior Change

The Relationship between Habits & Identity

Behaviors that are incongruent with our identity don’t last. I would argue that if they persist, they will change our identity. At that point, the two will realign themselves. A simple litmus test for determining if a habit is good or bad is the resulting identity it produces. If the habit is a vote for the type of person you want to become, it is a good habit. If it doesn’t, it isn’t. 

Identity and habits work in a push-pull manner. We can harness the power of identity to adopt a more disciplined lifestyle. Continue reading The Relationship between Habits & Identity

IDENTITY EMERGES FROM OUR HABITS

Our identity is born of habit. Our beliefs about ourselves emerge from our routines. The behaviors we exhibit repeatedly define our character. The definition and etymology of the words habit and identity provide insights into the relationship between the two. Webster’s definition of a habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition. The word habit is derived from the Latin habitus meaning condition. A habit is, therefore, a conditioned pattern acquired through repetition. The definition of identity is the sameness of character in different instances. Identity derives from the Latin identidem meaning repeatedly, again and again. Later it was abbreviated to idem, meaning sameness. Our identity is our sameness of character in a variety of circumstances.  Continue reading IDENTITY EMERGES FROM OUR HABITS