What is a Habit?
It can be compared to a cable in which we weave one thread each day until the cable becomes so strong that you cannot break it. Similarly, the repeated action we take on a daily basis creates habits within ourselves either for good or for bad. Good Habits can take us right to the top and bad habits can drop us down to the lowest.
Our brain is a very interesting mechanism whenever we engage in physical or mental activity, the brain fires up neurons in the sensory-motor region, the neocortex, the prefrontal cortex to accomplish the task, but the brain has the ability to program itself and when it discovers that a certain action is being repeated, it creates a program for it and stores it in the basal ganglia region of its neurons. That action then starts happening automatically.
For Example, on the first day when you engaged in driving you had to exert your brain completely to handle the clutch, the accelerator, the break, and the gear rod together alongside looking in front. However, as you continued practicing driving, your brain kept on creating a program within itself. Until it becomes a habitual task and finally you were able to drive along with listening and speaking to others.
A habit consists of 3 parts such as :
1. The CUE
2. The Programmed Action
3. The Reward
Let us say that for one month on a daily basis, after coming home from work you sat on your sofa to watch the television, and at that time you also drink coffee alongside. Now the brain created a habit out of it. So the moment you go to sit on your sofa that is the trigger the Cue, the brain then creates the Desire, I wish to have coffee and when you indulge in it there is a little bit of Reward. That reward of pleasure
reinforces the habit loop. This brain is so remarkable and intelligent that it can create its own reward. When it reinforces the habit loop it sends a few feel-good chemicals to that portion of the brain, the dopamine, the endorphins, the serotonin, which creates the pleasurable sensation to strengthen the habit loop. Our brain doesn’t care how it has ourselves and those wrong thoughts and wrong actions will happen to us easily.
The moment we see the trigger the desire will be created or the activity will be engaged in.
Let us say for another example. When you are working at your office and the email bell chimes, you distract yourself from the dreary work to check the email. That gives you a little bit of pleasure.
Now when you repeat the activity again and again the habit loop gets strengthened within yourself. Until finally it starts happening automatically.
It is said that bad habits are easy to create but hard to live with. Good habits are austerity to establish but easy to live with. So the advantage of creating good habits within ourselves is that they enable us to upgrade the quality of our life without much of a brain on our willpower. But to be able to do that we need to first invest our willpower and engage in the austerity required for creating a good habit.
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Just like some people live from paychecks to paycheck spending all that they earn others who are wiser save a bit of their income and invest it for a comfortable future. In the same way, you can either go through life exerting your willpower to refrain from the temptations and engage in the disciplines required for success or you spend a little time and effort every day engaging in the beneficial works. Though they may be difficult, exerting your willpower and thereby investing this self-control to create within yourself a beneficial habit. So think about it how we could benefit from dismantling unproductive habits and establishing within ourselves uplifting habits.
Make a list of the habits you wish to create within yourself and exert your willpower to do so. Hari Om.