This article is an abstract from Charles Duhigg’s book ‘THE POWER OF HABIT’, composed of 400 pages discussing human nature and how habit mechanisms work. We can say it’s a manual that teaches how habits work and how we can change the ones we don’t like.
Habits are a tough nut to crack, and it requires consistency, dedication, and a proper plan to change. If we try to change it suddenly without understanding its mechanisms, our brain won’t accept it. As a result, we will face extreme negative behavioural changes, I.e. anger and depression. So first, we have to understand how the mechanism of habits works in our brain and how a habit becomes a habit.
In 2006, a paper published by Duke University Researcher stated that more than 40% of our routine contains our habits. It means we do not plan 40% of our practice, reflecting the litigations saved in our brain as a habit. During these actions, our brain shifts to automatic mode, I.e. we do what our brain tells us to do during that juncture that we do not plan.
It happens because our brain always tries to find ways to save energy. When it finds a similar course of actions in our routine, which gives beneficial results, it converts those actions into habits and keeps them in part called basal ganglia. It’s a primitive part of our brain which works on automation. Basal ganglia are responsible for our actions, habits, emotions, and behaviours.
Duhigg says, usually, all our habits have a similar pattern, and we have to work on breaking that pattern if we want to change any of our habits. It is a three-step loop on which habit is pattern-based.
First comes the CUE; it is the triggering point that indicates our brain shift to autopilot and which habit to use. For example, coffee aroma accelerates the craving of having coffee; watching any video related to chocolate makes us crave chocolate. For some people, petrol or glue smells are catalysts.
Usually, all cues lie in any of the five categories: location, time, emotional state, Other people, and The action preceding the routine.
Now comes the routine; it is the main element of a habit that we wish to change. Like; having a sweet tooth, nail-biting, smoking.
Lastly, here comes the reward based on which our brain decides if the particular loop is worth remembering or not. The bonus can be anything, and it is the outcome of routine. After excessive drinking, the brain numbs; when our sweet craving arises, we eat chocolate.
Duhigg writes, ‘The cue and reward become intertwined in such a way that a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.’ This craving strengthens our habits and gives power to them that, if not fulfilled, they turn against us, which causes severe resentment and recession until we obey. That’s why sometimes people cannot change their destructive addictions even at the cost of their reputation and family honour.
To Be Continued…