Why we reach for the food that is guaranteed to be detrimental for us? Whether it’s – sleeping deprivation, lack of exercise, poor food choices – we are aware these things are not good for us. Why do we persist – and just as importantly, how we can stop?
First and foremost bad or good habits give us the comfort we need. In simple terms – our brain did not see our habits as good or bad. Firstly It sees something that is comfortable – uncomfortable, pleasant – unpleasant, requires effort or we don’t have to put too much effort into it.
“Our actions have a purpose behind it, even if you are not consciously aware of it.” The most common hidden goal our body tries to reach is comfort. Feeling comfort – release dose of dopamine.
The intensity of pleasure and availability(less effort, quicker effect, more intense experience) increases the desire for repetition. We associate – joy – with bad or good habits. Habits are strongly related to the reward. For instance, smoking a cigarette can be identified in our brain as a break of work(freedom, relaxation) or opportunity to talk to people(socializing).
Whether you want to develop your language skills, eat better, do more exercises, or improve your relationship, all habits follow a specific psychological pattern: the “habit loop”.
If you would like to simplify:
Let’s see some examples of what this looks like in everyday life.
|Problem phase||Solution phase|
|1. Cue||2. Craving||3. Response||4. Reward|
|Your phone buzzes with a new text message.||You want to learn the contents of the message.||You grab your phone and read the text.||You satisfy your craving to read the message. Grabbing your phone becomes associated with your phone buzzing.|
|You are bored at work.||You begin to crave a donut, as a boost of energy||You buy a donut and eat it.||You satisfy your craving to eat a donut. Buying a donut becomes associated with boredom and lack of energy.|
|You hit a stumbling block on a project at work.||You feel stuck and want to relieve your frustration.||You pull out your phone and check social media.||You satisfy your craving to feel relieved. Checking social media becomes associated with feeling stalled at work|
Once you become aware of the psychological habit structure, it makes it easier to perform the scheme below. Based on the Four Laws of Behavior Change you can simply ask yourself:
1. How can I make it obvious? What I want and how I can reach this purpose.
2. How can I make it attractive? How to make it more enjoyable. Focus on what will be exciting about it. Which needs will be fulfilled. Sometimes we want to start doing something(for instance – eat more vegetables) but we don’t see this joyful.
3. How can I make it easy? When, where, and how I will be doing this. How to make it easier(more accessible, achievable, feasible.
4. How can I make it satisfying?” Why am I doing this? What will be the result of my actions?
Let’s see the steps we need to take to eliminate bad habit – an inversion of Four Laws of Behavior Change might be helpful
and finding an appealing replacement:
Every habit is unique – change might require a different dose of patience, time, or preparation. The key to change habit – is awareness, plan, consistency, positivity, allowance for mistakes(which might happen to us on the way to reach purpose). To implement these fundamentals – it is crucial to follow the rules based on the Four Laws of Behavior Change and Habit Loop.