How to Break Bad Habits
A habit is a behavior done with little or no thought and has to be a regularly performed routine before it can become a habit at all. Our brains are wired to create habits, whether good or bad and develop and retain them for a long time depending on how they make us feel. There are certain neurons in the brain that are responsible for determining the end of every task or routine habit every time we do it. This part of the brain is important in forming new habits, even bad ones.
Are bad habits really “bad”?
The answer is YES! They are called bad habits because they are unhealthy. It damages our mental and physical health. For example, smoking is a habit that is very hard to break and takes a major toll on people’s health. Bad habits can affect our relationships with people and create unhealthy behaviors toward them.
Bad habits will make you unhappy
These habits interrupt our daily lives and prevent us from being happier that we don’t even realize it until it’s already ruined your happiness. You might be doing some bad habits unintentionally and without realizing it.
Happiness is also a manifestation of our behaviors. A good attitude towards life and people can bring us happiness. On the other hand, cultivating unhealthy habits can steal and shy away good things to come into our lives.
Bad habits can make you unsuccessful
Successful people share similar good habits. These good habits have determined their success, so cultivating bad ones can prevent you from achieving your life goals and dreams.
What causes bad habits?
Staying in a negative environment will only add triggers to destructive behavioral patterns. Bad behavior patterns come easily when your surrounding is giving you so much stress and pressure.
Boredom is a response to situations that don’t stimulate us. As a response, you’ll likely create new tasks to remove that boredom feeling, and mostly bad habits emerge from here.
Common bad habits
- Being late
- Stress eating
- Too much screen time
Why are bad habits harder to break?
Both habits good and bad are based on the same type of brain mechanisms. However, bad habits often fall under pleasure-based habits.
Pleasure-based habits can often prompt the release of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical found in our brain that interacts with the pleasure and reward center of our brain. It plays a vital role in how we feel happy.
This chemical drives you to repeat these pleasurable habits as you will feel rewarded and happy as you repeat it again and again, the stronger the habit becomes.
How can you develop new habits to end bad ones?
One way to end bad habits is to create new ones. Ending and replacing habits can be very difficult, but it’s also very possible.
The habit loop
The Habit loop can help materialize forming a new habit.
A cue or reminder is what triggers the behavior or habit. It can be anything like:
- Current emotional state
Any cue might be unique to your behavior. Be fully aware of your cues. Identify it and what behavior it to. For example, you would always grab a takeaway coffee in the morning as you pass by a nearby coffee shop. Your cue might be the coffee shop that every time you pass on it, you are prompted to buy a coffee.
Routine is the habit itself. Buying a coffee in the morning is the routine in the case earlier. Habits are behaviors we tend to repeat without conscious thoughts, like scrolling through social media when bored or just brushing your teeth after you get out of bed. Everyone has their routines every day, and it determines how we live and grow.
Generally, habits are formed when there’s satisfaction or a rewarding feeling at the end. In the case of the coffee, it makes you feel awake and energized, and that’s the reward of getting it in the morning.
This part is essential for you to change a habit and make a new one successfully. To stop buying coffee in the morning in that certain coffee shop, you have to experiment with different rewards.
You can try having your coffee at home, exercising, or getting a smoothie instead to kickstart your day. Experimenting with the rewards will let you evaluate what drives you to do such things.
This way, you’ll be able to identify what cues can be substituted to break the routine. Is it passing by the coffee shop? Or want the coffee?
Once you evaluate your habit loop, you’ll be able to understand and adapt easily to a new habit.
Breaking a bad habit is difficult, but preventing and replacing them with good ones will improve your life and other people’s lives.