They will be with us most of our lives and they can be good for us or otherwise.
The interesting aspect of forming habits is that despite what we think, they are mostly under our control to form or delete.
According to the February 7, 2017 issue of Psychology Today they provoke us with a thought process. “Habits are a part of everyone’s life. We all have them, we all know of them, and most of us tend to complain about them. Yet not many of us take the time to learn about them. If we did, we would be a lot more successful with building good habits and eliminating bad ones.”
They make a good point.
How do we build good habits and eliminate the bad ones?
Can we kick bad habits?
We have a visiting speaker with some exceptional suggestions.
Forming Good Habits – The Easy Way to the Good Life
Nail biting, fidgeting, smoking, too much TV…everyone’s got some form of a bad habit they’d like to break, and if possible put a good habit in its place. Don’t worry – help is at hand! Once we understand the nature of habits, we can go on to influence our own psychological behaviour, and be on our way to a life of positive habits that actually do more good than bad.
Studies reveal that as much as 45% of what we do every day is habitual. Most of us are performing the same actions almost without thinking in the same location or at the same time each day, usually because of subtle cues. When we think of the word ‘habit’ our minds tend to jump to less savory patterns of behavior like the ones mentioned above. But habits need not be bad. In fact, creating good habits is essential to success. The adoption of certain habits such as exercise, healthy eating and meditation can be transformational.
The Nature of Habits
Through experiment and observation, social scientists have learned there is power in tying certain behaviors to habitual cues. For example, the impulse to check your e-mail or reach for the bag of potato chips is likely a habit with a specific prompt.[adToAppearHere]
Researchers found that most cues fall into four broad categories: a specific location or time of day, a certain series of actions, particular moods, or the company of specific people. The potato chip urge, for example, probably happens after you’ve come home from work, perhaps had a bad day and are watching TV.
Dr. Wood, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, studied exercise habits among students who transferred from one college to another. When the locations remained similar – the new school had an outdoor track just like the old, for example – students continued running regularly. But if the tracks were too different, their exercise routine more often than not tapered off.
In another experiment, where researchers were studying smokers, those wanting to quit were more than twice as successful if they started kicking the habit on vacation, when they were in a different context, away from people and places that act as triggers.[adToAppearHere]
According to Dr. Wood, “Habits are formed when the memory associates specific actions with specific places or moods. If you regularly eat chips while sitting on the couch, after a while, seeing the couch will automatically prompt you to reach for the Doritos. These associations are sometimes so strong that you have to replace the couch with a wooden chair for a diet to succeed.”
Habits, whether good or bad, make us who we are.[adToAppearHere]
The key is controlling them. If you understand how habits work, you can use this knowledge to create good habits, and this can be life changing.
Here are a few tips inspired by Scott Young to help you create good habits:
- One Habit for 30 Days. Try focusing on one change you want to make for 30 days. Thirty days is roughly the amount of time it takes for a behavior to be conditioned, to become a habit.
- Replace Lost Needs. You can’t stop habits without replacing the needs they fulfill. For example, cutting down on TV probably means you’ll need to find a new way to relax and get information. In this case, you could try going for a walk and then reading the newspaper. But make sure you’re not substituting one bad habit for another, like quitting smoking only to overeat.
- Avoid Bad Habit Triggers. As much as you can, try to avoid triggers that you associate with your bad habits. And if you’re trying to create good habits, you can use the trigger effect to your advantage. For example, buy a smoothie maker and have it sitting on your countertop to help trigger you to make a healthy breakfast shake every morning.
- Balance Feedback. The different between long-term change and giving up on day 31 is the balance of feedback. If your change creates more pain in your life than joy, it’s going to be hard to stick to. Find diets, exercise routines, financial plans, and work routines that are going to work for you in the long run.
- Get Leverage. Give a friend one hundred dollars with the condition to return it to you only when you’ve completed 30 days without fail. Make a public commitment to everyone you know that you’re going to stick with it. Also offer yourself a reward if you make it a month (and every month you stick to it).
- Keep it Simple. Your change should involve one or two rules, not a dozen. Exercising three times per week for at least 40 minutes is easy to follow. Designing an elaborate exercise routine of yoga, rocking climbing and swimming on specific days of the week is complicated. Complexity is a headache and you could be setting yourself up for failure if other things come up, like travel, meetings, etc.
- One habit at a time. Don’t try to change everything all in one go. This is just too much pressure. Introduce one habit and work on this until it becomes automatic and then move onto the next habit. Successfully introducing one habit gives you the confidence to move on to the next one.
- Consistency is Key. The point of a habit is that it doesn’t require thought. Make sure your habit is as consistent as possible and is repeated every day for 30 days. This will ensure that your habit is properly conditioned.
Visit http://www.finerminds.com for even more secrets to living a healthier, happier and wealthier life.
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