Learn everything there is to learn about habits. What are habits? How are habits formed? Understand why we have bad habits and how to create your own habit stack of good behaviors.
What Are Habits?
Habits are routine behaviors that are performed subconsciously without a lot of thinking. They are like shortcuts. You do them almost automatically because you’ve done them often in the past.
Our life is basically a sum total of our daily habits. Knowingly or unknowingly, you shape your habits, and later, they start to shape you.
How Are Habits Formed?
Habit formation is the process in which a certain behavior becomes automatic. And in a sense, desirable. The more a certain set of actions are repeated. The faster this pattern will become part of your daily life.
Formation of a habit is also largely dependent on how long it takes to reach a reward – feel good or stop feeling bad. Therefore, habit formation can be slow or fast – anything between 18 days and 254 days.
For example, running outdoors is a well-known good habit. However, it takes a lot of time to get to a feel-good state – start to enjoy running. Conversely, behaviors that offer quick wins – e.g., cigarettes or junk food. Since the barrier to obtain these items is lower and the reward is acquired faster. We are much more likely to have a large set of bad habits instead of good ones.
How Do Habits Work?
A habit is composed of three main components – also known as the 3Rs or the habit loop:
- Reminder: There is a cue in your environment. Or the environment is the cue – the reminder – that triggers a behavior.
- Routine: The routine is the behavior you perform when the cue is noticed – consciously or unconsciously.
- Reward: What you get as a reward based on the activity. If the reward feels good. This will be recorded by the brain, and you’ll start to crave the activity even more. If something feels less rewarding, you’ll be less likely to make it a habit.
Here’s a simple example: You receive a notification – the cue. Since you’re curious to see the content of the message – and likely in the past, this notification was related to something pleasant. Your mind activates the behavior – you unlock your phone, you check the message, and you feel good because you’ve satisfied your curiosity. Cue > Behavior > Reward.
Why Are Habits Important?
Scientists in the field of habit formation argue that around 43% of our daily actions are based on habits. Basically, half of the activities you’ll do today are predetermined.
You are what you repeatedly do. And since nearly 50% of your life is already somehow decided in advance. It’s important to get to know your current habits and take steps towards replacing the bad ones with good ones.
Learning to transform your habits can literally transform your life.
Best Habits Books:
Here’s a list of the greatest books on habits:
- Atomic Habits by James Clear (Read my summary of Atomic Habits)
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Read my summary of The Power of Habit)
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (Read my summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
- The Now Habit by Neil Fiore (Read my summary of The Now Habit)
Articles on Habits:
My insatiable desire to understand habits – so I can kill my bad habits and adopt good ones. Led me to write a plethora of pieces on the topic. Below, you’ll see the full list of all articles I’ve published on the topic of habits:
- How Many Days Does It Take To Break A Habit?
- How Many Days Does It Take to Form a Habit?
- What Is Instant Gratification and Why It’s Important?
- How to Overcome Instant Gratification [Actionable Guide]
- What Is Delayed Gratification and What Are The Benefits?
- How to Practice Delayed Gratification for People Having Troubles Postponing Pleasure
- List of Good Habits for The 21st Century
- 9 Good Reading Habits for Non-Readers
- 9 Bad Reading Habits and Ways To Conquer Them
- Why Is It So Difficult to Cross The Plateau of Latent Potential?
- Systems vs Goals: Why You Need Systems, Not Goals
- Why Great Things Never Came From Comfort Zones
- The Secret To Making Good Habits Stick: Identity-Based Habits
- Want To Stop Wasting Your Life? Start Temptation Bundling!
- Changing Bad Habits with Good Ones [How To Do It]
- Self-Regulation Strategies for Adults Attempting To Adopt Better Habits
- Defining Implementation Intentions and How to Make Them Work
- 10 Good Daily Habits That Will Make Your Life Suck Less
- List of Bad Habits And How To Approach Them
- Types of Habits And Why You Need To Know About Them
- How To Overcome The 7 Worst Habits For Your Brain
- Healthy Brain Habits To Maintain Sanity In Our Mad World
- Keystone Habits: Or How To Adopt 100 Good Habits With Just 1 Habit
- The Curse of Habit Stacking – Are Your Current Habits Slowly Destroying You?
- Why Micro Habits Are Better Than Typical Habits
- The Myth of The 1% Better Every Day Theory
- A Starting Guide To Having Better Habits (3 Simple Steps)
- How to Finally Make Good Habits Stick
- Unboring and Easy to Get Guide To Deliberate Practice Theory
- What Is Habituation And Its Role In The Modern World
- Why Choose Process Goals? (Over Outcome-Based Goals)
- Building Habits Strategies To Try (After Failing To Build Habits In The Past)
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