What exactly is a habit?When I wanted to change a habit or create a new one it was always a challenge – it still is in some instances – but now I am little more more prepared when I want to make changes. There are several parts that make up a habit. The one part I just didn’t understand was what goes on in the brain when habits start to form and become established. Like many people I was told (or read somehwere) that it was just a matter doing something new and having a great deal of will power. Turns out that isn’t strictly true!
The Spark Of A Habit
The Connected Habit
The Habit - Fine Tuned
Key Points To Note When Creating New Habits
There are a few key points that need to be remembered and repeated here when it comes to creating new habits
A really important point is that you cannot change a habit. We talk about changing and even breaking habits but this isn’t strictly true when it comes to the connections and pathways in the brain. Once a habit is formed, the neural pathways and neuron connections that have been built and stengthened are unlikely to be altered or removed – if at all.
What you do is create new neural pathways, new connections which build into a new habit which you strengthen by consciously repeating the habit or the steps that form the new habit.
NOTE: The old habit will remain, as do the connections and the pathways. However, by not repeating the undesired habit, over time its connections will weaken as will the neural pathways. Earlier I said that the brain wants to keep things efficient and it does this by weakening and loosening the connections to habits that are not carried out, but they don’t quite disappear completely.
You’ll see this when it comes to riding a bicycle. If you learned to ride one many years ago and not ridden one for a few years, it doesn’t take too long to jump on the saddle and “things start to come back”. This is because the habit isn’t completely lost.
Or perhaps you have a habit of hitting the snooze button 3 times before you get up. You manage to create a new habit of hitting the off button first time and sitting up immediately. Until this new habit is really strong and becomes the norm for you, you may well find your old “3 snooze hits” comes back on a morning when you perhaps didn’t sleep well!
Creating new habits and weakening current ones takes real conscious effort. It also take anything from 2 -3 months and more to “bed-in” a new habit. This doesn’t mean its all OK after 2-3 months, it just means that you have now create good the connections and neural pathways that your brain recognises. You must keep performing the habit beyond the 2-3 months to really create strong connections and pathways in the brain!
you are physically changing your brain to change your ways!
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