How habits work and how you can change any Habit you desire so if you have a bad habit you want to change then stick around so you don’t miss out on how you can change it for the better I think we all at some point in our lives wanted to change the certain behavior we didn’t like maybe it’s eating too much junk food smoking cigarettes or drinking and little too much alcohol whatever the bad habit might be I think most of us have either tried or wanted to change but with little or no success luckily for us in the book the power of habit by Charles Dueck it shares with you some priceless advice and knowledge about how habits work and how to change them with a lot of studies backing the claims he makes the first thing you have to understand is how the brain works and what is habits exactly well habits is created because the brain is lazy and is constantly seeking ways to save effort and energy put in other words habits is a cycle our brain automatically follows.
when you see a cue you will follow the routine in order to get the reward we humans like patterns because habits makes it easy for decision making did you know that over 40% of our behaviors are driven by habits that means that over 40% of what you’re doing you’re doing it on autopilot habits help remove unnecessary decision-making and create shortcuts to save energy by understanding.
how habits work you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you want MIT researchers were studying mice in order to learn more about how habits are created in the brain the mice were put in a t-shaped maze and had to find a way to get a piece of chocolate the researchers were monitoring the brain’s activity of the mice as it were trying to locate the chocolate the first time the mice were put in the maze the brain activity was very dynamic and active the researchers then repeated the experiment but then something interesting happened as the mice learned.
where to locate the chocolate and how to get there faster and faster by knowing exactly where to go it’s brain activity decrease as the routine became more and more automatic this process of turning a sequence of actions into automatic routine is known as chunking and is at the root of how habits form there are a lot of chunks that we rely on every day.
some are very simple like when you automatically put toothpaste on your toothbrush before sticking it in your mouth did you pause this morning to decide whether to tie your left or right shoe first or did you have trouble figuring out if you should brush your teeth before or after you ate breakfast of course not those decisions are habitual which means they’re effortless or why is that how does habits work like that well in general all habits fall the same pattern a simple 3-step loop also called the habit loop first thing that triggers.
A habit is a cue this is a trigger that tells your brain which habit is the right for the situation for example this could be your alarm clock going off in the morning cues can be a lot of things from emotions a certain object a smell a sound or hanging around certain people all these cues will trigger the next step which is the routine and this can be anywhere from physical mental or emotional behaviors this is usually also the thing you want to change the routine could be you getting out of bed when the alarm goes off and heading to the bathroom to take a shower literally on autopilot the last and final part to complete a habit loop is a reward this helps your brain figure out if the habit is worth remembering for the future reverse can also be a lot of things like food drugs or something that gives you a physical sensation or even an emotional feeling the reward here could be the nice refreshing and warm feeling you get from taking a shower your brain records the successful Pattern of activity and reinforces the link between the queue and the routine so you will do it again have you at some point successfully stopped eating junk food for example but then started again and you don’t know why well it’s not entirely your fault because habits are incredibly resilient they actually never really disappear if a habit is well establish and has been going on for a while then those habits are encoded so deeply into the structures of your brain that they never really disappear entirely the habit loop will still be there somewhere a big problem with habits is that your brain can’t tell the difference between a good habit and a bad one so those bad habits you’re trying to change will always be lurking there waiting for the right cues and rewards to emerge again even if you successfully stop with a bad habit like smoking there will always be a risk of relapsing the reason why habits are so powerful is because they create neurological cravings more often than not the reason why quitting a bad habit is so hard is because you have a strong craving for the reward that a certain habit gives you Wolfram Schultz a neuroscientist has conducted experiments over 20 years that have revolutionized the understanding of the habit loop shush was conducting experiments to understand how rewards work on a neurochemical level he was studying the brain activity of a monkey called Julio in one experiment Julia was placed on a chair in front of a monitor Julia’s job was to pull a lever whenever some color shapes were shown on the Screen.
if Giulio touched the lever whenever the color shapes was shown on the screen a drop of black by Reduce which he laughed would drip down on his lips through a tube as first Julia was only a bit interested in what happened on the screen but when he happened to pull the lever at the right moment and triggering.
the blackberry juice reward he then became very focused on the screen as Giulio came to understand how the habit worked where the queue was the shapes on the screen for the routine to touch the lever that resulted in the reward which is the Jews just notice that pattern was emerging when Julia received his reward his brain activity would spike that suggested he was experiencing happiness after continuing the experiment and as the habit became stronger something interesting happened as soon as the shapes appeared on the screen there was a spike in Julio’s brain activity similar to when he was actually receiving the reward in other words his brain had begun to expecting the reward and this is why habits are so powerful as I said before they create neurological cravings that be most of the time are not really aware of now that you know how powerful habits are it’s no surprise that companies works.
Extremely hard to understand and create such cravings in consumers take Claude Hopkins the man who made Pepsodent toothpaste popular when other toothpaste brands had failed before Pepsodent appeared only 7% of Americans had a toothpaste laying around but a decade after Hopkins ad campaign went national that number jumped to 65% he understood that the toothpaste needed to provide a reward that created a craving which is what we know today as the fresh tingling sensation that we now come to expect. When using toothpaste some habits are more effective in order to remake our lives. These are also called Keystone habits and they can have a great influence on many other things as well.
Keystone habits are effective because it’s like a domino effect Keystone habits teach us that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and focusing on Them a common Keystone habit for many people is regular exercise it’s common for people who exercise to get enough sleep eat healthy and drink less again instead of focusing on drinking less.
starting to exercise might be the right call instead so that it will impact that habit indirectly instead researchers at Stanford found in a study something very interesting when children were given a choice that requires willpower a large group of four-year-olds was brought in one-by-one into a room in the room there was a table with marshmallows on a researcher would come in and give the child a choice either eat the marshmallow now or wait a few minutes and have two marshmallows instead the researchers then left the room for 15 minutes what they found was that only about 30 percent of the children managed to not eat the marshmallow but that’s not the most interesting part see some years later the researchers tracked down the children in the study who were now adults and what they found was that those who had shown the greatest willpower in the study was also the ones who ended up being more popular on average having the best grades in school and were less likely to have drug addictions we can then conclude that willpower is a keystone habit that will affect other parts of your life.
If implemented on a more important note to keep in mind when talking about willpower is that it works like a muscle and it’s not limitless if you want to do something that requires willpower you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day if you use it up too early on tasks like writing emails or doing something irrelevant to your purpose all of that strength will be gone by the time you get home which is why you might feel so exhausted when you get home from work and just want to order fast food and watch TV instead of cooking a healthy meal and reading in a book instead so let’s take a look at how to create new habits how exactly do you create a new habit if that’s what you want well with all the other things you have just learned this is how new habits are created by putting together a cue every teen and a reward and then repeating the process until the craving for the reward is strong enough to the Lutz Lea here’s an example on how to create the habit of starting to go for a run every morning first choose a simple queue for this example this could be you leaving your gym clothes out or putting your running shoes on before breakfast the routine is obviously running so next determine what the reward might be for completing this run this could be the sense of accomplishment after a run or the pure satisfaction of completing the run by relying on the endorphin rush just remember the cue in addition to triggering the routine must also trigger a craving for the reward to come so what if you want to change a habit what do you do then you just have to remember the golden rule of habit change which is that a habit cannot be erased completely you can quit a certain habit but instead you should replace it to fill its place.
let’s say smoking cigarettes as an example smoking will make you crave the nicotine hits it’s kind of hard to ignore that fact that’s why instead of quitting smoking you should apply the golden rule for changing any habit which is again don’t try to resist the craving but instead redirected to something else to understand this better several studies has been conducted on former smokers and the studies shows that by figuring out what the cues are and the rewards are around their smoking habits and replacing the routine with something that has a similar reward such as exercise using a nicotine product or simply relaxing for a few minutes would increase your chances of staying smoke-free for the years to come sometimes the golden rule isn’t enough and therefore people have used belief to change habits this form of belief in change is better suited with the help of a group for example alcoholic anonymous according to the book an estimated 2.1 million people seek help from the AAA.
every year and as many as 10 million alcoholics may have achieved sobriety the success rate is hard to measure alcoholics is anonymous but millions credit the program with saving their lives basically one way to dramatically increase your odds of success is to commit to changing as a part of group now if changing as a part of a group is not an option either then this is how you should go about changing your habit step by step the first step is to identify the routine the routine is usually the most obvious aspect of the habit it’s the behavior you want to change once you have figured out what the routine are that you want to change you must distinguish the queue is a boredom that’s triggering this routine or are you hungry do you need a break or are you just tired and what’s the reward.
The sensation of feeling good being relaxed having fun in order to determine these things let’s move on to step two which is to experiment with rewards most cravings are obvious when we reflect on our habits but incredibly hard to see when we are under their power to figure out which cravings drive particular habits you can experiment with different rewards during this period don’t feel pressure to make lasting change think of yourself as a scientist collecting data when you feel the urge to start the routine which as an example could be smoking adjusted so that it delivers a different reward instead of going to smoke do 10 push-ups then the next day try meditate for five minutes and then the next day you just take a glass of water and so on what you choose to do instead of your original reward isn’t important the point is to test different things to determine which reward will work the best by experimenting with different rewards you can isolate what you’re actually craving which is essential in redesigning the habit step 3 is to isolate the Q the Q that triggers our habits is hard to identify because there is so much information bombarding us and it can be multiple things to it.
If I Accu remove the noise and take a moment to think about what you do before you start your routine almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories which is location time emotional state are the people immediately preceding action once you figure that out then write down five things the moment the urge hits where are you what time is it what’s your emotional state who else is around and what action preceded the urge the last and final step which is step forward is to have a plan once you figure it out your habit loop you have identified rewards driving your behavior the cue triggering at and the routine itself you can now proceed to shift the behavior to re-engineer the habit loop you just need to start making choices again instead of being on autopilot break the loop by changing it up try new things and see what works the easiest way to do this is to make a plan on how to change that habit and use the steps I just mentioned obviously changing some habits is more difficult than others but this framework is a good place to start once you understand how a habit works once you identify the cue routine and rewards and use your new knowledge you gain an advantage over your habit and now has the power to change it the power of habit is a fantastic book and it was a great book to read and obviously I haven’t went over everything in the book I have just covered what I found to be most significant so therefore I really recommend you getting the book yourself.
The Power of Habit By Charles Duhigg Summarized by Bukola Odedeyi and voiced by Uyoh Uyoh. Learning to drive a car was no joke for me, I was actually trained with the old Volkswagen 1500 Beetle. It came with these three awkward looking pedals: the clutch, brake and the accelerator. Learning to know which to press was an uphill Task. Coupled with the fact that I had to be looking at what seems like a millions screens and mirrors at the same time: The side view mirrors, the rear view mirror, and yes, the windscreen. Lest I forget, I had to remember to press on those clutch in order to change the gear from one to the other. I had to actually do a million things at the same time. I will never know how to drive. Ahhhhh! Fast forward, two years later. Here I am, driving at 120 km per hour, I handle the steering with one hand while holding the burger with the other. I can drive now even without thinking and almost without effort.
This goes to establish the first major lesson of The Power of Habit :
That’s the bad news pretty ladies don’t want to hear. Awww! But how do you imagine you’ll feel that first afternoon, walking past the cafeteria? Odds are, you will either eat “just one more cookie” or you’ll go home in a distinctly grumpy mood. Kicking a bad habit is hard because you develop a craving for the reward at the end of the habit loop. And that’s what companies and advertisers work hard to do, to create such cravings in Consumers. That’s how habits are built and the stronger this link gets, the harder it becomes to change Them. But you can still do it.
Roughly 40% of what you do happens on autopilot. Understanding this fact can help you to be more conscious; Pause and ask if you’re about to do the right thing. Let’s move to the second major lesson in The Power of Habits. Imagine this scenario: every afternoon for the past one year, you have bought and eaten a delicious, sugar-laden chocolate-chip cookie from the fast food restaurant around your workplace. Call it a just reward for a hard day’s work. Unfortunately, as a few friends have already pointed out, you’ve started putting on weight, so you decide to kick the habit.
That’s the second major lesson in The Power of Habit:
Habits stick because they create craving. Hence, craving, not habits, is the problem. So, how do you change a bad habit? Have you ever seen any smoker looking to quit: when the craving for nicotine hits, it’s hard to ignore. They shiver. They are restless. They start panting around. They are like a dog in heat. Ohhhh! Research indicates that one of the best-known habit-changing organizations in the world (Alcoholic Anonymous) uses this method to great effectiveness. AA asks participants to list what exactly they crave from drinking. Relaxation … Companionship, etc. Usually, factors like relaxation and companionship are far more important than the actual intoxication. AA then provides new routines that address those cravings, such as going to meetings and talking to sponsors for companionship, effectively substituting drinking with something less harmful. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may have helped as many as ten million alcoholics achieve sobriety.
That is the third major lesson in the book, The Power of Habit:
To change a bad habit, you have to substitute the routine for a good habit. I think it might be the right time to let out a secret about myself: I am a book freak! The most valuable asset I possess in life is my library, boasting over five thousand choice books. And any good book on marketing, psychology, or leadership wins the battle over my purse any day. There was this bookshop I used to buy books From. Over time they had discovered from the information they had amassed about me, the three areas I love so much. So every month end, I receive emails and SMS from them telling me of the “”New Arrivals”. And guess what? They are usually in those three categories.
These days, I even see them going a little bit more subtle: they add offers in some other unrelated and non-interesting areas, so when I eventually “dig out” those in the genres that I am passionate about, it is like hitting oil in the Niger Delta! When trying to sell anything new, companies will dress it up in something familiar; For example, radio DJs can guarantee a new song becomes popular by playing it sandwiched between two existing hit songs. This way, new habits or products are far more likely to be accepted.
And that’s the fourth major lesson in The Power of Habits:
Companies take advantage of habits in their Marketing. If you’re aware of this, you can say NO more often. Once we become aware of a harmful habit, it becomes our responsibility to address it. It is our responsibility to change it. The other day I visited the hospital, and after a series of tests, the doctor said I am becoming diabetic. Dia – what? A lot of things began to rush through my mind at the same time. My wife.My kids. My businesses. My books – oh my god! As the doctor kept talking, explaining the habits that could have triggered that medical condition, I was getting impatient. Bring out the medications and let me start pumping them into my body, I almost screamed!
When he was through with his 3 minutes lecture that actually seemed like 3 hours, this was what he said: You will have to change your choice of food and drinks. What!!! You mean I won’t be able to have my cola drink again! My doughnut with jam? I began to react rather aggressively and defensively. His final word succinctly captures the
fifth major lesson in The Power of Habits:
It is in your hands. Though it may be tough, you bear the responsibility for changing your bad habits.