Humans are creatures of habit. With smartphones and technology growing more popular every day, we are indeed drawn to automation. Habits are just that. They’re automation we create in our brains. Some habits form for survival, like grabbing fast food to satisfy hunger. Other habits evolve because of the people we spend time with. Thanks to habits, we get from point A to B time and time again without putting much thought into the route.
Some habits appear mysteriously, like cravings for cake. It seems obvious why having dessert would be a habit. It’s tasty! The brain seems to automate itself around positive (and negative) reinforcement. Eating cake on your birthday is associated with happy feelings, therefore cake is good. What if we ate kale on birthdays? Would they become bad or kale become good? Food for thought…
The brain seems to be drawn toward instant pleasure. Sitting on the couch is more pleasurable in the short term than going out for a walk which also induces pleasure and provides long term benefits. It’s harder to perceive something that isn’t happening right now.
Habits can be good or bad. To find out, break the automation. Be more thoughtful about what choices you’re making throughout the day and how they really make you feel. Slow down and become aware of what you do mindlessly. Question repetitive patterns. They are sometimes to blame for “feeling stuck” or unhappy in life.
Recognise the habits you want to eliminate and contemplate the ones you want to adapt. Once you’ve got new habits in mind and some you want to break, you’re ready for the next step.
Create a Habit
Some experts claim it takes 21 days to make a new habit stick. It might seem like a lot of time. So, keep your new habit simple, specific and only add one in at a time.
Example: You want to eat healthier foods. Choose a healthy food you want to eat more of, like leafy greens. Select one meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) to add greens into each day instead of trying to add them to all meals at the same time. Commit to it for 21 days. If you miss a day, start over. Keep at it until you reach a consistent 21 days and then move on to the next goal.
Get your community involved by posting a picture on social media of the leafy greens you’re eating each day. It’ll fuel that positive reinforcement. Reward yourself when you’ve made it to 21 days. You could treat yourself out to a nice (and healthy) meal, to a movie or celebrate by telling your friends on social media. Choose what something to help you feel good about your accomplishment.
Break a Habit
If you’re finding a lack of time for new healthy habits, you might need to do the ol’ switch-a-roo. Exchange an undesirable habit for the new one. It’s easier to replace an unwanted habit with something positive than try to cut it out completely. Eliminating a habit cold turkey creates a void. Your brain WILL notice and likely rebel! Replacing the habit with something new gives you an alternative to focusing on.
For example, if you want to quit smoking or drinking alcohol. Replace one cigarette a day with a walk outside or eating a piece of fruit. Exchange an alcoholic beverage with sparkling water, apple juice or lemonade. Make just one swap a day. Remember the rule from creating a habit? Keep it simple and work at it for 21 days. Progress from there.
What habits are you adding and subtracting from your life? Share with us in the comments!
If you need help with ideas of swaps to make, ask us!