Shelf: Habits

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 – which also equips you with a large dose of self-discipline.

Learning to transform your habits can literally transform your life.

Best Habits Books:

Here’s a list of the greatest books on habits:

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:

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