We’ve heard it before, “My fault, force of habit” or “I don’t think about it, it’s habit”, right? But what does those statements really mean? Actions that we perform in our daily lives are based on our habits, not conscious decision making, such as what we do in the morning – brushing our teeth, washing our face, etc. As a matter of fact, a study done in 2006 at Duke, showed that 40% of our daily actions are due to habits! Think about that, nearly half of what you do everyday is due to some sort of habit that has been developed (either intentional or unintentional) by your brain! For instance, picking up food everyday on your way home from work becomes routine. You don’t even think about it – work is over, you’re hungry, you see the sign, boom.
What exactly is a “habit”?
To get technical, a habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary – basically, an automatic reaction that is recurrent and happens in response to a specific situation. We acquire our habits through constant repetition, to the point where they often happen without conscious awareness. Habits occur in a “loop” that is triggered by a cue, which is then followed by a routine (which can be physical, mental, or emotional), and it gets instilled in us because of the reward we receive from our actions. Over time, this loop occurs more and more automatically and as soon as we “see” the cue, our brain begins craving the reward. This craving is what causes us to keep our habits, which will continue to occur unless we deliberately combat the loop we’ve developed.
Why do habits matter?
The reasons that habits emerge is because our brain is always looking for ways save energy – and when we have a habit, our brain does not have to think, allowing our brain to “take time off” and conserve energy to use later in more complex, unique situations. Habits also eliminate the need for self-control, allowing us to store it up and use it later. Because our habits occur without much conscious thought, our brains cannot tell the difference between a good and a bad habit, and, like previously mentioned, we must deliberately fight these habits if we want to change them.
Here at Achieve, we believe that a healthy lifestyle is more than just what you do in the facility with us. It is a culmination of your daily habits and routines.
We believe you are more than your current habits and we want to help you reshape them! Stay tuned for the next article about habits to learn about what you can do to change them.
Things to think about before the next installment:
- Are you more likely to engage in a bad habit when you’re in a group or alone?
- If you could change one habit without effort and thought, which one would it be?
- Of the habits I have now, which one would you want your kid(s) to develop or not develop?