Charles Ruhigg is an investigator reporter for the New York Times and author of the book, The Power of Habit. I once heard him give a great interview on how words we speak can be from a habit we have. Have you ever realized that just about everything we do in life is a habit? Think about it… the way we eat 3 meals a day, that one small bowl of ice cream before we go to bed at night, how we talk to our loved ones, how we automatically put our seat belt on when we get into the car. I could go on and on. We all have our own habits. Some are just more noticeable than others. Take a few minutes and think about what you always do, or your routines in the morning. It can be quiet surprising at the habits we have formed.
In our daily lives, we try to do good. Rushing stated that the brain can’t tell the difference in good habits and bad habits, it just knows its a habit. It is up to us to create and train our brain with good, new habits. Wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy! Maybe I can train my dog some new good habits too. That sometimes seems easier.
Cancer Patients Need To Watch What They Say
When I heard Ruhigg’s interview, I thought about myself and my habits. I also thought about our cancer patients at New Hope Unlimited. Many times when someone hears their doctor give them bad news, that record player starts playing in their mind and those old nasty toxic thoughts and phrases creep in. Phrases like “I’m sick,” I can’t,” “I may die,” and many others. I like to try to encourage our patients to be careful with their thoughts because I really believe that our thoughts can create our individual world. If you say, ”I don’t feel good” several times out loud, you will find yourself physically not feeling well. We are human and we always seem to fall to the darker side. That itself can be a habit.
How Do We Know Its A Good Or Bad Habit?
How do we know if it is a good habit or a bad habit? Lets be honest with ourselves. It sounds pretty silly to say we just automatically know but its true. Maybe sometimes our gut or consciousness tells us. Maybe its our angels or the Holy Spirit that tells us. Either way, we usually know that it is not a good habit or it is a good one to have. There is other ways we know too. For example, we have been shown with scientific proof that cigarette smoking can be a deadly habit. Education has helped us to know this. Are we happy doing a certain habit or do we wish we didn’t do it? If you bite your nails, are you happy you do it? Do we get ourselves in a routine and not sure why? That is a habit. However, many times our instinct or “gut” feeling tells us if its good or bad for us.
Three Components For A Habit
Charles Ruhigg explained to us that every habit has three components to it.
- There has to be a trigger for the habit to start in the first place.
- Consider the routine of the behavior itself, and,
- The reward. This means how your brain decides to store the information for the future or not.
How To Change A Habit
Wendy Wood monitored people’s daily behavior and reported that 45 percent of the decisions made were actually habits. She stated that, “The best way to develop an exercise habit is during the first week or two, give yourself a piece of chocolate or some other treat that you enjoy right after because you have to teach your brain to enjoy exercise for exercise’s sake.”
It is important to understand and focus on the triggers and the reward of the habit. Duhigg feels that is the secret of changing the habit. Once you have created a habit, its there forever in your brain until you want to change it. You have to work and change the routine or the negative toxic words you say. In order to do this, you have to first identify the habit and then you have to want to change it.
Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words
Many years ago I heard a wise man say the following:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Always remember, you deserve a great destiny!!
Dr Fredda Branyon