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Habits and behavior change

Building habits to change behavior the right way can be a wonderful tool to improve your life. But false notions about what habits are and what they can do can backfire.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

  • Start with a routine and stick to it.
  • Make time in your schedule for your routine. Without this, chances are it’ll never get done.
  • Learn to manage discomfort. New routines won’t be effortless, so you can learn coping techniques to deal with discomfort in a healthier mann...

  • A habit is an impulse to do a behavior with little or no conscious thought. Not doing a habit feels uncomfortable, like not washing your hands after using the toilet or not flossing your teeth before bed.
  • A routine is a behavior frequently repeated. Unlike a habit,...

Motivation is not driven by pleasure and pain, but rather by the desire to escape discomfort.

Our brains get our bodies to do what they want through discomfort. And the same rule applies to psychological discomfort. 

They generate an impulse to do a behavior with little or no conscious thought.

By forming a habit, the brain frees the mind to do other things without deliberation. So behaviors that require concentration, deliberation, or extended effort, are not habits.

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The Confusion Of Habit and Routine

Habits are programmed human behaviors with little or zero conscious thought. Habits free our minds to other things, but our behavior isn’t always on autopilot. There are many tasks that require concentration, deliberation, and effort, and cannot be simply fed in the brain as an automatic habit.

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A compulsive behavior

It involves actions a person feels driven to do over and over again.

Compulsive actions may appear to be irrational or pointless, but the individuals may feel incapable of stopping themselves.

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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”

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