Discover the truth about habit loops and using your brain’s natural patterns to change negative behaviors and create healthy new ones.
By Jessica C. Kraft
Luckily, research into how habits form shows we can harness our automatic behaviors to foster a healthier lifestyle. The new field of “habit design”— based on the premise that our habits are surprisingly malleable throughout life—lets us reap the benefits of recent science to set ourselves up for success.
1. Begin with belief.
Our brains cling to unhelpful behaviors like smoking, watching endless TV, or snacking on junk food because we are wired to seek pleasure. All those activities typically deliver immediate, powerful bursts of happy neurotransmitters to our brains.
Resisting those pleasures, or doing tasks that do not deliver an immediate reward, requires an effort we’ll call willpower—a quality that scientists are finding varies widely from person to person, and even within an individual across a single day. So how do we strengthen that trait?
Two psychologists at Stanford University, Carol Dweck and Greg Walton, discovered that willpower can be boosted by the power of attitude. They found that people who believe willpower is self-renewing performed better as they went through a series of cognitive tests than those who were convinced they had only a limited amount of willpower.
So practicing positive affirmations such as “strenuous work can be energizing” may enable us to find more resources when fatigue starts to set in.
2. Learn your habit loops.
In his popular book The Power of Habit, journalist Charles Duhigg explains the neurological structure of habit formation and how to exploit the “habit loop” in order to make healthy changes. We cycle through three stages for every habit, good or bad. Read more on hopetocope.com >>
Printed as “Making & breaking habits”, esperanza Magazine, Winter 2013
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community
Jessica C. Kraft