What are these behaviour patterns we call habits and why do they occur the way they do? Find out!

Today we are going to be talking about 'habits'! We hear about this word so often but it’s important to redefine words so that we better understand and to be able to better improve them in our daily lives.

So what is a habit? A habit is, “an acquired behavior pattern followed until it has become almost involuntary.” According to research we do not make our everyday decisions consciously 40% of the time but our habits do. Whether you are aware of them or not, we have developed many habits since our childhood ingrained within us. 60% of the time our habits are what keep us going.

Image: Skip Prichard
Image: Skip Prichard

To simply put it, habits shape our lives so why not learn to be conscious about them, to state the first step perhaps? Think about the first thing you do when we get out of bed in the morning, the last thing you do before going to bed, how you prepare for an exam or a meeting or a race. All of these are deeply rooted in the kinds of habits we have acquired. What you do the morning of an important meeting matters, how you visualise your goals the night before matters, and guess what? They are what we call our habits!

Now let's talk about why we form habits in the first place.

Habits are formed over a significant period of time, behaviours are constantly repeated so that the activity becomes more automatic. It is our brian’s game plan to make us more efficient so that we save time by not thinking so much about a simple task and save energy for more complex challenges.

Image: MindMeister
Image: MindMeister

Habits can go in two directions, healthy and unhealthy behaviour patterns. Depending on how determined the human bean is, we now come across a phenomenon called the habit loop. The habit loop is what creates and persuade habits, it consists of three elements and they are known as follows:

1. The cue or trigger (this is basically the trigger that causes the action/behaviour)

2. The behaviour or routine (which is the habit/action)

3. The reward (the pleasure we receive after we finish our habit)

For example, for many individuals one's emotional state can be a cue that leads to their habit/behaviour which could be anything from excessive eating, shopping, drinking, running, dancing or painting and the reward would be a stress reliever. Habits can be good and bad, we just have to figure out which one it is first and go from there if we want to actively change our habits. It isn’t an easy journey but it is an act of self love to make difficult decisions that can positively impact your quality of life in the long run.

Have a beautiful day human beans!

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