Do you have bad habits that you always want to abandon? Have you tried so hard to resist your bad habits for a week and fall back into it again? Then, you gave up trying, and thought that you will bound by bad habits forever. This is not true.
We are bringing to you bad and good news. The bad news is habit formation lies with the way our brain has been wired, ever since 200,000 years ago. But the good news is you are not alone and you can use tricks against your brain.
According to James Clear the author of ‘Atomic Habits‘ suggested that we can use these four simple tricks to break off bad habits. What makes them so powerful is that we do not need to fight against our nature. Instead, we are making use of our nature to fight this battle.
1. To Redesign Our Environment
The following experience should not sound foreign. Cravings for fast food suddenly surge when we see the Macdonald’s advertisement. Brainlessly click onto social media and browse through them. When we notice it, we are already holding the burger in our hand.
2 hours had passed, and we are still scrolling through our social media feed. The problem lies with our environmental cues. Human has seven senses, with vision being the most powerful of all.
As we are so dependent on our sight, visual cue becomes the greatest catalyst to any behavior. What we see decide our action, and the opposite works to.
If we don’t see it, we will less likely to promoted to do it. If you would like to better spend your time on work, delete the social media from your phone. Or prepare separate devices for work and entertainment.
If you are trying to eat healthily, do not visit the mall with various fast-food temptations. It is difficult to fight our temptations as the reward has been deeply wired in our brain. Self-control is overrated.
In fact, the “disciplined‘ people are just better at structuring their lives to avoid temptations.
2. Remove Its Attractiveness
Though some of us may not have smoked, but we know that smoking is one of the most tough habits to quit. Smoking itself provides a lot of “benefits“. It helps some to relax. It allows some to socialize with friends. It makes some focus better. But are these benefits true?
The reason Ellen Carr’s easy way to stop smoking is so successful as he makes people realize that there are actually no real benefits in smoking. And we lose nothing if we stop smoking.
There are many ways to address the same underlying motive. Smoking is not the only way to relive stress, we can go for a jog, pick up meditation.
Our current habit are not necessarily the best way to solve the problem we face. They are just methods we are learnt, and we can unlearn it by reducing its attractiveness.
3. Make It Inconvenient
Laziness is embedded in our nature. We do things that are easy. Binge-watching has become a habit because it is easy to continue watching. Now, YouTube and Netflix have a function of auto-suggesting interesting videos and auto play them for us. All we need to do is just to keep our eyes open.
Once things are getting to out of the way, we will not do them. Increasing the number of steps between us and our bad habits will help us to curb our bad habits naturally. This may sound funny but try them out.
If you want to focus on work for the next 2 hours, lock your phone away in another room. If you want to spend less money, half your credit card limit. Let’s take some time and see how we can come up with a unique design to make bad habits difficult.
4. Increase The Cost Of Our Bad Habits
Our brain has not evolved since our Pala eolithic ancestors‘ time who lived in an immediate-return environment. Our actions create and crave for immediate gratifications. Although our environment now has changed into a delay-return environment, our hardware has changed little.
Bad habits often create instant satisfaction and its harm only comes in years later. We know that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Overeating increases the chance of obesity.
Binge-watching reduces our motivation for work. But we still can’t resist them as they give us instant reward. The good way to reduce habit is to turn them into a punishment.
For this to work better, find an accountable partner. Set up contract between you and your bad habits. Bad habits will not just disappear overnight. It’s something we have learned over an extended period, and hence give ourselves some time to see changes.
Feel free to share your journey in breaking bad habits with us in the comment section. Let’s motivate one another in this life-changing journey.