Stuff You Should ALL Know About Habits
We all understand the term habit. According to the dictionary a habit is “a settled tendency or practise, especially one that is hard to give up”. All of us have habits. Some habits are good like washing your hands after having a poo or saying thank you when someone holds the door open for you. Unfortunately we also possess many bad habits such as eating too much of the wrong type of foods, drinking alcohol too frequently and thinking in negative terms. The reason we slip into bad habits is because they are easy, make us feel good and are simply a quick fix to an underlying problem. The good thing is we can form good habits like washing our hands after wiping our bums, it just takes time. Here is how a habit is formed...
A habit has three components.
1) Que. This is a trigger for a type of behaviour to start. I am hungry, I need calories now.
2) Routine. The doing of the behaviour like eating a chocolate bar when you feel hungry.
3) Reward. The good feeling you receive from the routine you just carried out. Sugar rush and feeling of satisfaction from the chocolate bar just eaten.
Over time this behaviour becomes more and more engraved into our brains, and eventually gets to a point where we are not even consciously aware when we engage in the behavioural side of the habit.
So how do we change a habit?
We can change a habit by having a pre meditated set of ques and rewards. Make a decision ahead of time that you apply when you see the que. There are 4 components to changing a habit.
1) Chose a type of behaviour you will follow when you get a que. Example: decide that when you feel hungry you will eat the healthy snack options that you took to work with you.
2) Que. The feeling of hunger is upon you. You remember the healthy snack in your bag.
3) Routine. You change the routine of the habit by eating the healthy snack in your bag rather than eating a chocolate bar.
4) Reward. You are rewarded with a feeling of fullness, you do not feel guilty because you ate something healthy and you came one step closer to breaking the negative habit.
Keep repeating this for a few weeks and it will become automatic.
Habits are what drive us. It is estimated that around 40%-55% of our everyday behaviour is habit. When we are engaging in habitual behaviour our brain activity is very very low as though we are asleep. By being aware of what drives our subconscious mind through a practise known as mindfulness not only do we stimulate the mind, making it more effective and powerful but we are also able to break bad habits and stop bad or unhealthy behaviour before it becomes habit.
More on mindfulness next blog.