Habits are defined as “the result of the repetition of the behavior” (Gardner, 2015). What causes bad habits, and how can a person turn these habits into good ones?
James Clear mentioned in his book, Atomic Atoms, that there are two causes of bad habits: stress and boredom. Smoking, watching too much television, and overeating are just some of the methods of temporary relief that people turn to when stressed. It is necessary to acknowledge the bad habits a person has in order to transform these into ways that are beneficial.
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Author Eric Barber suggests to start by identifying one bad habit and replace this with an alternative reward. For example, whenever an urge to smoke arises, substitute it by chewing a piece of gum instead. Since bad habits are coping mechanisms in some way, it would be hard to immediately get rid of them. Replace a bad habit with a good habit that gives a resembling effect.
The environment is a great influence in the formation of habits. If a person is in the frequent company of people who smoke, he or she would likely be influenced to do the same. This person could not simply cut them out but could join them in some other activities besides smoking. Heidi Halvorson shares the if-then planning that includes formulating in advance the specific steps to take in case a trigger of a bad habit comes up.
Bad habits are products of how life is managed. It is essential to recognize these bad habits to be able to plan the alternative and advantageous ways of dealing with it.
Barker, E. (2016). Bad habits: How to end them with 8 secrets from research. Retrieved from https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2016/04/bad-habits/.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones. New York, NY: Avery.
Gardner, B. (2015). A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behavior. Health Psychol. Rev. 9, 277–295. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.876238 .
Halvorson, H. G. (2011). Nine things successful people do differently. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
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