Everyone who drives a vehicle would have noticed this. No matter how your emotional state is, drive from work to home would be effortless. You don’t have to think about the directions. It is a common phrase that people say, “I don’t even know how I got back home..”
Have you ever wondered how this is actually possible? It is because of Habits.
Habit is the same automated response that our brain produces to a specific repeated situation. Habit is formed by repetition and learning. Once a habit is formed, it is difficult to break.
Types of habits here don’t refer to good or bad habits, which we will get to later in this blog. Habits are divided into motor habits, intellectual habits and habits of character based on the nature of the activity involved.
Motor Habits or Habits Of Body:
Motor habits are those that involve our physical parts – muscle action, popularly referred to as gross motor skills. Standing, sitting, walking, postures, eye gestures, facial expressions come under motor habits.
Whenever you get into the car, your hand automatically puts in your seat belt. This is one example of motor habits. Reactions to various smells is one another example of motor habit. In both above cases, the brain actually doesn’t involve in giving the response. The response is automated, and the brain’s energy is available for other activities.
Intellectual Habits or Habits of Mind:
Habits that are related to our intellect and process that requires our thinking are termed as intellectual habits or habits of mind.
You are listening to a song and the singer is your favorite. If someone enquires about who the singer is, you can respond immediately without thinking. This is the simplest intellectual habit. You are so used to the voice, that you can remember it without beating an eye. This is the exact reason why we can hear the messages sent by a loud one in their voice and tone.
Habits of Character:
Habits are cultivated from a very young age. Some like their coffee dark and hot, this classic example of habits of character. Trusting people, being generous, working hard, working late at night, waking up early all these are habits of character.
Habits are a major part of our life. More than we realize. When a habit is formed, the brain clings on to the habits, overlooking common sense as well.
More than 40% of our day-to-day activities that we perform are not based on decisions we make at that time, but they are habits.
Habits are formed in four steps. Cue, craving, response and reward. These four are called habit loops.
Imagine your phone buzzes with a new notification. You are very intrigued, anxious and curious to know the contents. So, what you do is pick your phone to read the message.
You satisfy your curiosity by reading the notification; hence the brain releases some pleasure chemicals.
In the above example cue is the phone buzzing sound, craving is to know the message, response is to pick the phone and reward is release of pleasure chemicals in your brain.
So, when this loop is repeated, response becomes a routine and eventually a habit is formed.
So, every time a phone buzzes, your brain compels you to pick the phone and check it. Because when a habit is formed, the brain stops fully participating in the decision making.
When a habit is formed – it is very difficult to break.
Now we know, when a habit is formed, the brain doesn’t have to work up 100% and the energy can be conserved – which can be used to focus on plenty of other important tasks.
But not all habits are good. What if a bad habit is formed? Like biting nails or smoking or getting into panic mode in case of emergencies, how to get rid of these bad habits?
Reality is when a habit is formed, we cannot actually get rid of it. But we can change it. Yes, we can replace it with a good one. Habits never really disappear.
So, to change the bad habit all we have to do is change the routine. This is popularly known as the golden rule of habit change.
How Golden Rule Of Habit Change Works?
Step 1: Don’t change the cue, so craving also won’t change
Step 2: Change the response
Step 3: Provide a reward.
First of all, you need to identify what habit that you want to change. Example you are a person who shops when there is stress. So, the bad habit here is stress shopping.
Now you have to replace the bad habit with a good one. While replacing the habit it is always better to stop the activity cold turkey. So instead of shopping, you can take a walk in the park or talk to a friend.
When you change the habits, you need to be strict and consistent. Instead of stopping yourself from doing something, do something else.
This is the important part. We know brain releasing pleasure chemicals is the main reason for habit formation. So we need to reward yourself – this can be as simple as enjoying a slice of cake, which in turn releases the pleasure chemicals.
This has to be done repeatedly, to replace the habit. Don’t stop when the goal is achieved.
New year is here, here are some simple habits that can impact your life in a big way.