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Habits: How to Do More of the Good Ones

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Habits and How to Do More of the Good Ones

Habits are an integral part of our lives. We all have habits—some of them good, some of them bad. According to the Berkeley Wellbeing Institute, the top bad habits are:

· Smoking

· Not exercising

· Not getting enough sleep

· Too much screen time before bed

· Slouching

· Overspending

· Procrastination

· Negative Self Talk

On the flip side, according to Us&Co, the best habits include:

· Eating breakfast

· Exercising

· Reading

· Planning

· Prioritizing

· Setting goals

· Taking action

· Learning new things

Habits are behaviors that are repeated regularly and often unconsciously. They are powerful because they shape our lives and can either lead us towards success or failure. Think about one of your good habits. How would you rate its importance to your success? Now, take a moment to consider the opposite. What is one bad habit that you have, and how does it keep you from being at your best?

The science behind habits can be defined through a scientific process called “classical conditioning.” In this process, a behavior is repeated in response to a certain stimulus. For example, when you come home from work, you may walk your dog. The stimulus is coming home from work and the behavior is exercising with your dog. Over time, the behavior becomes an automatic response and a habit is formed.

Recall one good habit that you have and how it started. What was the stimulus? If you can remember the process and the why it happened, it can be a powerful confirmation of all the good it’s done.

Habits can also be formed through positive reinforcement. When we do something and receive a reward for it, we are more likely to do it again. For example, if you go to the gym and feel that natural exercise high as the reward, you are more likely to go to the gym again. In this case, the reward reinforces the behavior and creates a habit.

I think about when my running habit started back in the early 90s. At that time, running wasn’t as popular as it is today, and I was getting all sorts of accolades for the long distances that I was running. I also felt terrific and my legs looked great. Guess what? I am still running five days a week 30 years later.

Breaking bad habits can be difficult, but it is possible. The first step is to be aware of the habit and to identify the triggers. Once you identify the triggers, you can replace the bad habit with a healthier one. For example, if you are in the habit of snacking on unhealthy foods, you can replace it with a healthier snack like fruit or nuts.

I have to admit that some of my bad habits have been with me since I was a child, and they seem to be stickier than superglue. I’m still in process with reducing and eliminating them from my life.

Additionally, it can be helpful to set goals and create a plan around making or breaking habits. Goal setting can provide motivation and help you stay on track. Setting short-term goals that are achievable is key. Once you reach a goal, reward yourself and celebrate the success. This will help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your long-term healthy habits.

Finally, it’s important to stay consistent and be patient. Habits take time to form and break. It’s not going to happen overnight, so it’s important to be patient and kind. There are times in the middle of the night that I wake up and start berating myself about not doing better breaking one of my habits. Then my true self arrives to the rescue and reminds me that I have more tomorrows and more chances.

Habits are powerful and can have a big impact on our lives. They can support greater success or failure, so it’s important to be aware of the habits we form. Not all habits are bad, but if we have bad habits, we can replace them with healthier ones. To do this, it’s important to be aware of the triggers, set goals and create a plan. It may take time, but with patience and consistency, we can break the bad and add more good habits growing our greatness.

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