I recently heard a great interview with Charles Duhigg, an investigator reporter for the New York Times and author of the book, The Power of Habit. Did you realize that just about everything we do in life is a habit? Think about it…the way we eat three meals a day, that one small bowl of ice cream before we go to bed, how we talk to our kids or loved one. I could go on and on. We all have our own habits. Some are just more noticeable than others.
Duhigg 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.
How do we know if its a good habit or a bad habit? It sounds pretty silly to say we just automatically know but its true. For example, we have been shown with scientific proof that cigaret smoking can be a deadly bad habit. Education has helped us to know this. Are we happy doing a certain habit or do we wish we didn’t do it? Do we get ourselves in a routine and not sure why? Thats a habit. However, many times our instinct or “gut feeling” tells us if its good or bad for us.
Mr. Duhigg explained that every habit has three components:
1. There has to be a trigger for the habit to start in the first place.
2. Consider the routine of the behavior itself, and,
3. The reward. This means how your brain decides to store the information for the future or not.
A woman named Wendy Wood monitored people’s daily behavior and found 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 really enjoy right afterwards 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. He 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. In order to do this, you have to want to do it.
About 30 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.”