Habits - choices that all of us deliberately make at some point and then stop thinking about but continue doing - often every day - comprise more than 40% of our actions.
The meals we order, what we say to our kids at night, whether to save or spend, how often to exercise, the way we organize our thought and work routines – these all have an enormous impact on our health, productivity, financial security and happiness.
Understanding habits can change how you see the world. Want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good? Pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up. Want to make running easy? Create triggers that make it a routine.
Changing a keystone habit can create a cascade effect on many other habits. For example, we can choose to focus on something positive. Perhaps a vacation trek that would require good health and stamina - can help us to give up something difficult, such as smoking. Eventually the smoking might be replaced by daily walks, and can also change how we work, sleep, eat, save money, schedule our work days, and plan for the future.
Brain images of people who have changed a keystone habit still show activity in the area of the brain for cravings and hunger. However, the frontal area of the brain which is involved with behavior inhibition and where self-discipline starts keeps increasing in activity more and more as the new habits are practiced. Our new chosen habit(s) over-power(s) our old habit.
Habits that may have served us in the past may no longer be interesting, fun, or may be causing us ill health or unhappiness. If you want to be healthier, more productive, branch out into different work or a new hobby, develop your interpersonal relationships or effect change in your work-place or community - watch the patterns of your behavior, determine what you need to do to create change, and set a plan to change your routines.
Neal, David et al, Habits – A Repeat Performance, Duke University
“The Power of Habit, why we do what we do in life and business”, Charles Duhigg, 2012
University of Hertfordshire. "Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it's the happy habit many people practice the least." Science Daily. Science Daily, 7 March 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307111016.htm