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How to Create Good Habits and Eliminate Bad Habits in Our Lives

Uriel enjoys learning about the psychology of behavior. He is interested in behavioral change.

Person exercising

Person exercising

In this article I am going to show you how to break bad habits and build good habits.
A habit can be defined as behavior or action that is performed frequently and automatically. Good habits propel you forward towards your goals while bad habits hold you back from achieving your goals.

The strategies that are covered on this article will be of great value to people looking for precise guide system for improvement, whether your goals revolve around money,health, relationships, productivity, etc.
Do you want to quit smoking? Do you want to become rich? Do you want to lose weight?

All these are pertinent questions in today's fast paced lives. Humans are very complex beings and they all have a different array of habits. Some habits are repulsive to some while others are attractive to some. All habits whether good or bad have a role to play in our lives.

We all aim to eliminate or reduce our bad habits while simultaneously creating or enhancing our good habits. Success in life depends on the compounding effect of positive habits.

Time multiplies the gap between failure and success . It will multiply whatever is fed to it. Good habits turn into your friend while bad habits have the effect of turning time into your adversary.
Habits can be likened to a double edged sword. Bad habits destroy your life while good ones build it up. It is critical to avoid the dark side of habits. This is achieved through understanding how habits are formed and how to redesign the habits in your life.

Lady smoking

Lady smoking

Human habits are in constant flux from second to second, situation to situation and moment to moment.
The lives we lead depend on the quality of our habits. As Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Our lives are the sum of our habits.

When we repeat the same habits we end up getting different results. Good habits enable us to tap into the power of compounding.
A breakthrough moment is the result of hundreds or thousands of previous actions that have built momentum. Habits do not seem to make a difference in one's life until a critical mass is reached.

Renowned behavioral scientists B. F. Skinner discovered that it was possible to get people to act in a certain manner if you proffered the right punishment or the right reward.

The cue, craving, response and reward form the building blocks of our habits. The cue acts as the trigger that initiates behavior. The cue also acts as a predictor of potential rewards. Our minds are constantly analyzing both our external and internal environments to determine the location of rewards.

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How habits work

Habits are built in four steps :
⦁ Cue
⦁ Craving
⦁ Response
⦁ Reward

Each craving is tied to a yearning to alter our internal states. Cravings are different for each of us. Anything can trigger a craving. A smoker might watch an advertisement or a movie that portrays a person smoking. This might then trigger the smoker to crave a cigarette. For a non-smoker, the trigger will pass unnoticed.
The response is the actual habit that is performed.

It might be a thought or an action. The occurrence of the response is dependent on the motivation and the difficulty involved in performing the behavior. If the action requires a lot of mental or physical effort, then the action might be forsaken.

The response also depends on the ability of the individual. A habit can only occur if a person has the capability of performing the action. If a person wants to buy an expensive car but they lack the money to purchase the car they will not purchase it.

The response proffers the reward.People pursue rewards because they serve two purposes they:
(1) satisfy our cravings
(2) increase our knowledge.

For example, getting in shape satisfies the craving to look good and improve our health. Eating satiates our craving for food and eliminates hunger. Rewards increase our knowledge and guide us in our future actions.

If a behavior is not sufficient in any of the four stages of cue, craving, response and reward, it fails to become a habit. When a cue is eliminated, the behavior never starts. When we reduce the cravings, we will have insufficient motivation to act. If rewards fail to satisfy our cravings, we cease the behavior altogether. If the first three stages of habit formation are missing, a behavior is eliminated. If all the four stages of habit formation are missing a behavior will nor recur.

Cues triggers cravings, which in turn motivates responses, which then provides rewards, which afterwards satisfies the cravings and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. All of them form neurological feedback loops that result in automatic habits. The cue, craving, response, reward is referred to as the habit loop.

Cravings acts as the motivation behind all our habits. Without motivation, there would be no desire to act. We do not crave the habits themselves but the change of state they engender. You do not crave exercise but the feeling of wellness that results from performing the exercise.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Uriel Kushiel

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