The Science of Habits

Awareness + Curiosity + Effort = Growth

Habit is a learnt behaviour that becomes automatic over time.

Brain is a hard working machine that requires lots of energy to operate. By creating habits it saves time and energy that would be used for constant decision making.

By repeating a behaviour, habits are reinforced and brain connections between neurons involved get thicker, as a result behaviour is prioritized and becomes automatic. Luckily, thanks to neuroplasticity we can change our brain and its connections.

Neuroplasticity is triggered by intense focus on what and how we are trying to change and it does bring up stress and discomfort, but also creates a chemical environment in the brain that promotes change, and interestingly the actual change happens during deep sleep or non sleep deep rest.

Because of the accompanying distress in the process of change, it is very important to be able to self reward effort all the steps, and also recognise and accept stress and agitation as a part of the journey.

Through ongoing self reward we attach dopamine to the process which then helps us to keep going. Only through dopamine we can suppress the build up of stress chemicals that could possibly make us quit.

With time, shifts in behaviour will shift mind, thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

“Self fulfilled prophecy” works through the RAS channel in our brain. RAS (Reticular Activating System) consists of a bunch of neurons that connect the conscious and unconscious ( automatic) parts of our brain. By thinking about something, the brain starts making plans on how to get it. That’s why thinking about what you shouldn’t do is counterproductive.

RAS also seeks information that validates our beliefs. It makes us see what we want to see and then it influences our actions. That is why challenging limiting beliefs is so important in the process of change. And one of the most limiting beliefs is that a person can’t change. This is called a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe their qualities are determined and set in stone, like intelligence, personality type, moral character, physical ability…for them achievement is the only measure and failure is proof of incompetence.

The growth mindset is based on the belief that our qualities can be cultivated through effort and help from others. “The passion for stretching yourself, and sticking to it, especially when its not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset”

– DR Carol S Dweck Reference:
Dr Carol S Dweck  “Mindset”
Charles Duhigg “ The Power of Habit”
Andrew Hewbernan Podcast