Habits, we all them, good and bad ones. We know that smoking isn’t good for us and watching TV in bed isn’t helping to get good rest, but still, we are so used to it, it seems impossible to change.
Habits in a nutshell are actions we do every day. If we like it or not it habits control and predict our path in life. If you want to know what your life will be like in 5 years, it will be the same as it was 5 years ago. Unless we change our habits.
So how to change something that is hard to change?
Facts about habits
Habits are energy savers
Our brain loves habits because they use so little brainpower. Like an autopilot in a plane, you automatically do certain things at a certain time of the day.
Most of our mornings are the same. Wake up, brush your teeth, make coffee, spend some time on the phone, etc. Most of our time we aren’t aware of what are we doing. So, while you are brushing your teeth you might be thinking hundred other things.
Do you remember first driving a car? Focusing on the road, what gear it is, what is going on behind, frantically checking every corner for pedestrians, bikers, other cars.
After a year of driving, you don’t even think about gear shifting, you can text while drive, breaking a fight in the back seat.
Once we learn something and repeat it enough times, it becomes engraved in our minds. That’s why driving after a year demands so little brainpower.
Half of the time awake we spent on automatic behavior
Half of our time we spend on autopilot. Our mental power is limited, if we would focus on everything and every new information, we would mentally be exhausted.
We wear the same clothes, eat the same food, read the same forums, think the same thoughts. It is the same way the brain saves its mental energy for new information.
Some people understand this and use this to their advantage. That’s why you see Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same clothes because they are saving their mental energy for a difficult task.
Habits are tough to break
Some habits are hard to break even though we know they are bad for us. Smoking isn’t healthy but it feels calming and it relieves anxiety. When a smoker sees a cigarette, he knows what to expect, and with the first puff, dopamine is released into the body. And with more smoking and more dopamine, the neural pathway is created and strengthen. And going against this habit creates an uncomfortable feeling.
So how can you break a habit which has been constantly repeated?
How to build good habits and break bad ones
First understand, how your brain works.
Our brain is like an addict, it wants more dopamine and more reward, and if we constantly reward it, like a spoiled child it will do anything to get what it wants. As said before, when a habit is constantly repeated with immediate rewards it becomes unconsciously programmed in our behavior. And if the habit takes little or no effort it becomes even harder to break.
What’s your trigger
Each habit has a trigger, to understand your habit, first find what makes it start. Each habit is a response to a different emotional or physical stimulation. When stressed some people relief in smoking, walking, eating, watching Youtube.
So, if we want to change the habit of smoking, we need to change the response, we have to the particular trigger. When stressed, we are looking for something to relieve us, so we need to change our response. Instead of smoking, we can go for a 10 min walk, or phone a friend.
It is just replacing habits. But our mind is a child and it doesn’t like to do anything unfamiliar. That why it feels so uncomfortable at the start when we are doing something for the first time. But over time unfamiliar becomes the familiar and a new habit replaced the bad one.