We all have bad habits, and we know how these bad habits affect our daily lives. One thing is for sure, we can’t get rid of bad habits without adding good habits in there place.
Our brain understands that if it sees a trigger and it does the corresponding habit, it will get the reward. One example is: if you have coffee and donuts for breakfast, every morning when you get your coffee your brain understands you will then get a donut. Over time that’s what it wants – the reward (the donut). Sometimes the brain even skips the trigger (coffee) and just goes for the reward. What we can do is change out the habit to something more effective that still gives us the reward. Say having your morning coffee with a slice of raisin bread or a Greek yogurt.
That habit will still be there, but it’s changed.
Bad Habits And Psychology
Let me tell you a story about an old man with dementia and a history of alcoholism. He’s in his late 70’s and he can’t do much. He can barely stand on his own, but every morning he shaves his beard – a habit so deeply rooted during his years in the military, that he could not give it up, no matter how old or sick he was.
He can’t do much and his memory is short, but his brain still always remembers one thing: “If it’s morning, I have to grab my electric razor and shave me beard.”
He still has that habit because habits corn in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which is one of the oldest structures in the brain. It’s near the center of the skull, just where your spinal cord is entering your brain. When that man was old and his brain was damaged from disease and alcohol, that habit stayed there because that part of his brain stayed intact.
A lot of people start to lose their memory when they incur brain damage in their prefrontal cortex and other sides. But the part where habits develop lies deep in the brain and is very hard to damage. That’s why habits are so powerful; you need to understand what effect they can have in your life.
So how do we make sure we have good habits in this protected area of our brain? Well, we can replace bad habits we don’t want with good habits we do want.
Look at a habit you have but don’t like and think of something similar but more positive that you’d like to be doing instead. For example; that coffee like with a donut every morning. That habit can be swapped out with something else sweet but more desirable like a slice of raisin bread.
If your habit it smoking, that involves a lot of psychological stuff like breathing in and out. Instead of smoking try eating a Twizzlers. Some people become gum chewers – it’s much healthier to chew gum all dat that smoke three hours a day.
It’s good to find something that is similar to your habit but is more productive.
You also want to find something that still provides some kind of reward. This is where creativity comes in. You might have to think a little bit about this, but that’s what’s really going to lay the foundation for you to become a super successful person in the future.
By thinking about this now so that it can become a habit, it can become concrete in the future, and then you won’t have to think about it. Instead of mindlessly reaching for that donut or that smoke, you will mindlessly reach for that raisin bread or chewing gum, which is a lot better.
Discover What Bad Habits You Have
Another thing about habits is that a lot of times they’re also distracting, which means they keep you mindless. So you may not even realize you have a habit. A great suggestion is to ask someone in your house hold or some friends, “Hey listen, be honest with me, I’m trying to be a better person. If I have any habits that have ever offended you, or even something I need to change, tell me, I need to know.” Find someone who will be honest with you. I have friends and family members who wouldn’t bring stuff up that they probably should.
So how do we change the bad habits into something else – something better?
We all have triggers, which might be going outside to have a smoke, or heading to the refrigerator when we’re anxious or stressed. Fill in the blanks with your own triggers for bad habits.
Whenever a trigger happens, you need to be conscious and change the action. Mine is raiding the kitchen for sweets when I get bored or stressed. my action would be to take a hot bath or shower, playing with my dog. When ever action that you enjoy at the moment.
It might be taking some deep breathes, listening to some music, drinking a glass of water, stretching, chewing gum or cleaning out your desk.
Maybe your habit is you spend to much time checking out social media and that’s a habit that you want to get rid of. Whenever you feel the urge to get on those accounts, think about what the trigger of your situation is – maybe you’re just around friends and they’re not talking about something really interesting.
Write that down as a trigger. That’s the trigger that make you want to get on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or whatever site that you want to check.
Most triggers from bad habits is the dopamine we get from it. Dopamine is compound present in the as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of the other substances including epinephrine.
Change The Response To Triggers
If you know that the trigger is a uninteresting conversation, instead of mindlessly checking your phone, or smoking or any doing any habit because your bored. Try to spice up the conversation, distract yourself.
It you feel like something is triggering a bad habit, replace it with something that jumps up your adrenaline (depending on the case and situation), like going for a walk, going hiking, or swimming. Something that gets your heart beating 160 beats a minute.
Just something that gets your heart racing. It will distract you from your bad habit triggers.
Here Are A Few Tips
1. Surround yourself with like-minded people who have similar habits.
For example, one of the reasons people smoke is simply because their friends smoke, it peer pressure (even if your 50+). We become the sun of the five people that we spend the most time around.
If your constantly around people who smoke, drink, do drugs, eat. That habit will be instilled in you. That same as if your constantly around people who workout, or hike all the time. Who do you need to start hanging around with?
If you want to get rid of bad habits start hanging around people who would almost look down on you for that habit and be like, “Hey you need to change that if you want to Hanford around with us.” That should motivate you.
2. Remove triggers and anything that you think will lead to an eventual bad habit.
You need to find those, understand what causes them, and get rid of them.
3. Change your environment.
Some people require a mental shift to open their mind to change their habits. Research actually shows if your kitchen is clean people are less likely overeat during snack times.
Have you ever been on a vacation and just get a wild idea? Sometimes you get these wild ideas simply because you’re outside of your usual environment, so you brain is going, “look at all this new data, look at all this new information, look at… What can we do with that?”
When we change or habits and environment s our brains come up with new ways to overcome problems and it will find new solutions, so getting into a new environment with new people and new experiences will help you break out of a bad habit more quickly.
How Long Does It Take To Create A Habit?
Many people day it takes 21 days to create a habit. Most of the reason they say that is because your motivation goes away around those days, so you remain with just the discipline and a formed habit to do it anyway.
Som if you make a New Year’s resolution on January 1st to do things like going to the gym or stopping a bad habit you have to go 21 days to create a habit. If you’ve made it that far why don’t you just go and do it until it becomes discipline and it’s concrete.
Decide to made a change today and you’re mind is your helping hand. If you say the change is happening today then you can and will start developing it instantly.
Of course, it’s good to take repetition. You need to do something over and over and over again For some it will take 21 days for other 67 days, the point is not to stop.
We need to persevere until we get the discipline. After that, the habit is formed and the task gets easier and easier.
Tell yourself right now – today I’m going to make a change. Kick your bad habits, continue to work at it and make it a lifestyle decision.
Be careful not to program you mind with the number of days.
When some people go on diets they may say, “I’ll start tomorrow”- but tomorrow never comes. Or they’ll say “ I’m going on this diet for 30 days and then I’ll begin eating normally. Then after the 30-days they gain all the weight back. After 30-days of different eating habits who go back to the same old eating habits.
You have to understand that when you want to create a habit, you have to say “This habit is for the rest of my life.” “Not just 21 or 30 days. It has to start now and continue until you die.
Every day from now on, thinking, “I’m going to use this habit to make myself better.”