Hello again, I hope you have had an awesome week, today I am going to highlight to you something that could drastically change the quality of your life. Last week, I received a message from a lady in London who needed help to quit smoking. I said her that smoking is just another habit. And understanding the nature of how a habit works can help us to decode it and overcome it. But the crucial part here is to understand the mechanism of that habit.
So, imagine for a second that you have a habit that you really want to change. Let’s say you love eating chocolates and you know that is the prime reason for your weight gain. You are receiving lot of comments on your weight gain, which really bothers you, yet you are unable to shake off the temptation that arises everytime you think of a chocolate bar. It has become a habit that you just can’t seem to kick. You end up giving excuses like, “I have sweet tooth” or “I just love chocolates”. So if you truly desire to change it, you first have to understand how habits work. Our minds and our brains are too complex, understanding the way it creates habits and cravings for anything is essential.
To begin with, any craving starts with a cue, some kind of trigger that makes the behaviour unfold automatically. Studies and research in mental science suggests that cues can be a location, a time of the day, a certain emotional state, other people or just a pattern of behaviours that consistently triggers a certain routine. To figure out the cue for your craving, spend a few days tracking exactly when the urge to eat a chocolate hits you. You will notice something interesting just like I did with my chocolate cravings. The craving for chocolate hit me always about 6 pm to 6.30 pm in the evening. That was my cue, which was a certain time of the day. The next part in the habit loop is the routine or the behaviour itself. For me, it was pretty easy to figure out. I do most of my writing around that time. So everyday while writing, I would get up from my chair, walk to the kitchen open the fridge, pick up a chocolate bar walk back to my computer, eat it while chatting with my best friend on the phone.
The last part of the habit loop is the reward that is exactly why habits exist, so that we can get the rewards that we want. But figuring out the reward is the tricky part. So to find out what reward was driving my habit, I tried an experiment. One evening when the chocolate urge struck, instead of heading towards the fridge, I went outside and took a walk. The next day, when the chocolate urge struck, I went towards the fridge, but I did not eat a chocolate bar but had an apple. And the next day, I went outside and called my friend and had a chat with him. I was trying to test different possibilities to figure out what reward I was actually craving for. What I figured out was the habit had nothing to do with chocolates but with boredom.
From now onwards every evening at about 6 pm, I get up from my chair, go for a nice walk around my block, maybe call up a friend and speak to him while doing so and comeback after fifteen minutes and resume my writing. The urge to eat a chocolate bar has completely disappeared and replaced by new behaviour which has become a habit. It has helped me shed around five kilos. Studies have shown that if you can diagnose your habits, you can change them in whatever way you want. So here is something to ponder upon, what are the cues, routines and rewards in your life? What habit do you want to change? Remember habits are not your destiny. By figuring out the science behind your habit, you can transform your life. See you next week, till then Stay Positive, Stay Abundant.