Habits are the invisible architecture of our lives. Humans are undeniably creatures of habit. Some people like to think that we are in control of our future and we can decide our own destiny, but that is not true. We are in control of our habits, and our habits control our future and decide our destiny.
It is true that if you want to change your life you have to change something you do everyday.
Understanding how habits work can help us reprogram ourselves and get rid of bad habits and replace them with good ones.
Habits are basically a cycle of 3 parts:
We engage in habits because we have internalized this 3 step process. First there is a trigger, some kind of stimulus that begins the cycle. Then there is the habit itself, this can be an action or a thought or anything in between. And the third part of the cycle is the reward. This is most often a thought that causes neuro-chemicals in our brain to "reward" us.
Take a look at your habits in this way and you may start to understand them better. Try to identify the trigger, then clearly identify what the habit is, and identify what the reward is.
If we want to eliminate bad habits from our lives there are some strategies that can help us be more successful.
Once we have identified the 3 step process of a particular habit we can try to avoid the "trigger". We can try to avoid situations that will lead us down the same, familiar, dysfunctional path.
We can also separate the trigger from the habit. If we are more keenly aware of the trigger and our habitual response we can create mental space to react in a different way. You should also "reward" yourself when you are able to identify the trigger and create that space to react differently. When you notice the trigger and you have paused to reflect, congratulate yourself. Tell yourself that you are making progress. Give yourself a pat on the back, and learn to make this recognition the "reward", and in this way you are working WITH your own brain chemistry to improve your habits.
It is often a good idea to concentrate on replacing habits rather than eliminating habits. When you identify the trigger, give yourself a positive habit to replace the negative habit. A classic example is to switch from smoking cigarettes to chewing gum instead. When you are triggered to smoke a cigarette, you can use the awareness technique described above, and chew a nice piece of chewing gum instead of smoking the cigarette, and give yourself the mental reward, the mental congratulations.
Improving our habits is the quickest and surest way to improve our lives. I will expound more on this in later blog posts and videos.
I highly encourage you to do some more research and find ways to improve your habits that will work for you.