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About Those Habits

May 21, 2012

This is a wonderful article from NPR – thanks to Aaron Karmin for bringing it to my attention on his blog Anger Management:

Habits: How they form and how to break them

From the article:

It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop,” which is a three-part process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold.

“Then there’s the routine, which is the behavior itself,” Duhigg tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “That’s what we think about when we think about habits.”

The third step, he says, is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the “habit loop” in the future.

Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts.

 

The above article highlights why change is hard: we have to break the reward system for the old behavior and create new habits with new rewards to make the change stick. So here’s to creating new “habit loops” that will support you. And here’s to breaking the ones that cause you pain.

To your continued success!

Beth

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 10, 2012 8:18 am

    Ola! Cactuswrangler,
    Thanks for the above, “It is as reasonable to expect a fire to go out when it is ordered to stop burning as to suppose that a man can stand straight in consequence of a direct action of thought and desire.” – Professor John Dewey
    I’ll be back to read more next time

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