Quitting smoking. Keeping a gratitude journal. Developing a mindfulness practice. Whether we want to break certain bad habits or create newer, healthy ones, the process can be complicated. Indeed, most of us have made resolutions to break bad habits in the past only to fall back into old patterns.
So, how do we change this cycle? How do habits work? And what are the elements needed to break bad habits and create healthier ones? Well, popular belief has it that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. However, a study from University College London has shown that, in fact, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, depending on the complexity of the habit.
Check out our video below for an explanation on how to break and create habits and continue reading the article for more tips.
Learn how to create healthy habits... and break destructive ones
Habits are formed by the so-called 'habit loop'. The habit loop consists of:
So, to develop a healthy habit, do the following:
Studies have shown that certain healthy habits like making your bed, exercising, or keeping a journal, can keystone other habits. So, recognize a keystone habit that works for you, and use it to develop other healthy habits.
To avoid falling back into our bad habits, or not succeeding in creating new, healthier ones, it's essential to recognise and counteract loopholes, like false choice loopholes, tomorrow loopholes, this-doesn’t count loopholes, fake self-actualisation loopholes, or one-time loopholes.
“Choose a healthy habit that's easy to start with. Big changes in life happen as a product of daily habits, not the other way around.”
Recognize these kinds of loopholes and counter them with “if-then” plans to strengthen your automaticity. Ultimately, breaking or creating habits help us in living the life we want to live.
As author Gretchen Rubin put it, habits are “the invisible architecture of every life and a significant element of happiness.” Whether it's gratitude, mindfulness, connection, forgiveness, compassion, or any other happiness practice you seek to work on, the key is to form and sustain healthy habits. So, why not start with one today? ●
What are the bad habits you want to break and what healthy ones do you want to replace them with? And how have you managed to break any bad habits successfully? Share your ideas with the happiness.com community below...
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Arlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
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