Description: What do you want to change about your life, about your habits, about your day-to-day behavior? If you are completely happy with how things are going for you and about how you are living your life then good for you, go find something else to read! If there are a few things you would like to change then this article may be for you. We tend to think of things we feel we need to change in broad stroke terms: get more exercise, eat better, sleep more, lower stress and there are thousands of self-help books, websites and blogs that claim to have the secrets for how we make our selves and our lives better. The problem is that most of those things are also written in broad strokes and are often NOT grounded in good Psychological research. Psychology knows about habits. Habits are engrained behavioral routines; they are things that we do ALL THE TIME. Some are good for us (brushing our teeth) and some are not so good for us (eating a donut with our drive through coffee every morning) but all habits are typically simple behavioral routines. So how do we change our habits or how do we add new habits (better habits) into our daily behavioral routines? Read the article linked below to find out.
Source: How to Build Healthy Habits, Tara Parker-Pope, Mind, The New York Times.
Date: February 18, 2020
So, did you get the basic research supported message? Start small and slot the new behaviour you want to add into your existing habitual routines. Make it doable, not daunting, and plan to grow your new habit or habits over time AND realize that you may actually be surprised at HOW MUCH time it will take to deeply ingrain a new habit. A simple research finding like the Garcia Effect can be very helpful. Make your performing of an old habit (something you already do every day, like brushing your teeth) contingent on you having first having performed your new prospective habitual behavior (like flossing your teeth). Doing that much more quickly consolidates the new behavior into a solid habit that you will do automatically and routinely. Want to eat less, buy smaller plates. What to exercise more, start with a walk around the block or getting off the elevator a couple of floors early. Habits are small things, but they can be grown into powerful life changes. So, start small!
Questions for Discussion:
- What are two or three things that YOU do habitually?
- What are two or three things you wished you did habitually?
- Pick one of the things you noted above in response to the previous question and then sketch out a plan for how you might (for how you WILL) include it in your daily routines and in your life. Then go do it!
References (Read Further):
Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C. H., Potts, H. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European journal of social psychology, 40(6), 998-1009. Link
Hagger, M. S. (2019). Habit and physical activity: Theoretical advances, practical implications, and agenda for future research. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42, 118-129. Link
Ashton, L. M., Sharkey, T., Whatnall, M. C., Williams, R. L., Bezzina, A., Aguiar, E. J., … & Hutchesson, M. J. (2019). Effectiveness of Interventions and Behaviour Change Techniques for Improving Dietary Intake in Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of RCTs. Nutrients, 11(4). Link
Schoenebeck, S. (2014). Developing healthy habits with social media: Theorizing the cycle of overuse and taking breaks. Proceeds of SIGCHI. Link