Revealed! The psychology behind habit formation!

What a person is today is the outcome of all his habits, long term, and short term, which he has lived all his life. But the question is “What is a habit?” and “What is the psychology behind the formation of habits?” and most importantly “Is it possible to control a habit?”

Let us dwell deeper into this.

A habit is a certain behavior or action which is repeated so many times that it becomes a part of our daily routine. We do not require any significant effort to perform that action, it becomes auto wired into our brain.

Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do. – Sean Covey

Habits can be of both kinds, the ones’ which will benefit us or the others’ which will prove harmful to us. That is the reason why a great deal of research has been conducted in this area. The scientists and researches have analyzed different areas of brains and tried to find the relationship between our behavior and areas of the brain. Careful monitoring is done on sections of the brain when different actions are performed.

One of the most surprising revelation by scientists is that our brain is not hard-wired. The patterns in our brains can be altered with new ones’ by following proper methods.

Every person has a unique set of behavioral patterns and careful analysis of those habits provides a new scenario for the researchers. But the ideal people who are preferred by researchers for analysis are drug addicts, alcoholics, chain smokers and people who are suffering from different diseases. Experiments are also done on animals like monkeys and rats for advanced analysis.

Great researches are coming forward as result of wonderful work carried out by the researchers. Charles Duhigg in his famous book THE POWERS OF HABITS has explained that there is a habit loop. He explains that there are stages in the habit loop.

I have learned that champions aren?t just born; champions can be made when they embrace and commit to life-changing positive habits – Lewis Howes

1. Cue
2. Repetition
3. Reward

1. Cue
Cue is something which can be considered as a hint or a suggestion that triggers some emotions or craving within us. There are can be different kinds of cues like location, time, environment, friends, or even an object like an alarm clock. Suppose you want to get up at 6 am. So when you set the alarm for 6 am, the sound of the alarm acts as a cue for you which triggers feelings in you to wake up.

Location can also act as a trigger. Suppose there are 2 rooms in the home. The first room is the main hall where there is television and the second room is your bedroom. Now suppose you get up in the middle of the night and you have to go to your main hall for some reason. Now when your eyes fall on the TV, feelings of movies, sports will come to your mind.

Similarly there are cues related to environment or friends.

Now we will come to the second part of the habit loop which is routine and repetition.

2. Routine
Now when we get a cue, it purely depends upon the individual as to how he responds to it.

Now suppose when I take breakfast, there is television in front of me. Now my response to this cue triggers me to start the television. Now every time, I have my breakfast, I switch on the television and watch movies. Now, this becomes an automatic response as I have started performing this action repeatedly.

3 Reward
Let us come to the final stage of the habit loop. Now we have discussed that every time we have our breakfast, when we have the sight of television we switch on the TV and watch the movie. But there will be some reason why we start the television otherwise why would we do that? It is because we have expectancy of REWARD. What is the reward we will get while we watch TV? It is possible that a person will get a feeling of enjoyment or pleasure when he watches the TV, so this FEELING acts as a REWARD for him.

So the pattern of the habit will always be CUE – REPETITION/RESPONSE – REWARD ….. CUE – REPETITION/RESPONSE – REWARD … CUE – REPETITION/RESPONSE – REWARD

Now the sight of television triggers a craving for pleasure. To satisfy this craving we do multiple repetitions of this activity and in turn this behavior will develop into a concrete pattern in our brain and will gradually get converted into a habit.

There are a lot of people who want to change habits and get rid of the habits which are proving harmful to them. So it is very important to understand the psychology behind habits. It is also very important to understand that it is definitely possible to change habits but only if we understand the habit loop properly. We will dwell deeper into this in the coming articles.

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