How habits are formed?

American philosopher and psychologist William James said “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits”.

Every day we make decisions and perform certain actions, so-called routine. We think these are considered decisions and actions, but it is the impact of our habits. How various human life is, so various our habits are. We all have habits – useful and sometimes harmful. About some of them we know, about some we do not even think. But it’s worth, because knowing our habits,  their origin and psychology – we can arrange a harmonious life. After all, our habits affect our health, productivity, financial position and happiness.

Charles Duhigg writes in his book “The Power of Habit” about habits and other things concerning with them.

As much as  people are different as their habits are various too. But maybe everybody has faced with such issues like “how to change a habit?”, “how to form a useful habit?” etc. Based on many scientific studies and his own observations, Charles Duhigg describes a scheme of creating/changing of any habits. This scheme can help to form a new useful habit or to change an old and bad habits. Of course, changes do not always happen quickly and easily. But this scheme helps to better understand the process of a new habit creating.

This scheme involves the definition of cue, desired reward and some routine for its achievement, and of course a plan of action to create a cycle of habit.

In their research, scientists from MIT found that each habit has its loop that consists of three parts: cue, routine and reward.

“First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP”. – Charles Duhigg, “The Power of Habit”

For example, if you want to create a habit of doing sports, you should select a cue, which will induce in you an interest and desire to do sports. Have you noticed that you become more physically tired from the usual routine, or do not fit in fashionable jeans or a pretty dress? If yes, so you have a clear cue – to add sports to your life to become a strong and improve your stamina, or get a slim and a graceful figure. Or, for example, you want to create a habit to eat healthier food. Or, maybe, you want to achieve a certain level of foreign language for work or personal use.

To motivate yourself to action as in the first and other cases, it’s necessary to have a reward.

“Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings” – Charles Duhigg, “The Power of Habit”

In the first case reward can be to improve health and increase your stamina, or to have a slimmer and more attractive figure with which you look charming in fashionable jeans or beautiful dress. As about case with health nutrition – you become healthier, feel yourself better and more vigorous. In relation to language learning, you will improve your skills, will feel yourself more confident communicating in a foreign language, you can get a professional job.

Of course these rewards motivate, but the way to achieve them can be long, so you should motivate yourself with little and pleasant things. For example, tasty fruit smoothie or energetic bars after each session in the gym, or visiting the spa for a relaxing massage, or watching an interesting movie with friends. Something nice and helpful that will inspire you to go further in achieving goals.

With cue and rewards, you can create a routine for your habits – exercise in the gym, start taking healthy foods and combine them properly, learn a foreign language using online services or enroll in a language school.

“Once you’ve figured out your habit loop—you’ve identified the reward driving your behavior, the cue triggering it, and the routine itself—you can begin to shift the behavior. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving. What you need is a plan..” – Charles Duhigg, “The Power of Habit”

Therefore, it is necessary to form a plan of action. At first, seeing a cue, we must personally deliberately make decisions and follow our routine (gym, eat healthy food, etc.) to get the reward. Of course, it must make efforts and willpower to stand out, and clearly determine for yourselves when and under what circumstances you will perform a habit loop.

For example – “every Tuesday and Thursday I will go to the gym,” “every Wednesday and Friday I will attend a language school”, “every day I will prepare a salad for dinner” etc.

And to do so until the habit loop will work automatically. But after a while, when the habit is smarten to automatism, you’ll see that the efforts were worth it. According to our examples – you get an excellent shape, improve your health and increase the level of foreign language.

And don’t forget to believe in yourself!

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