How to Change Bad Habits

How to Change Bad Habits

A habit is a fixed way of thinking that leads to automatic behavior. The benefit is we don’t have to rethink again and again what to do. It just happens and can have good side effects. But a bad habit can also hurt us or hold us back from progressing. Although, like anything, we can learn and unlearn them. But first, let’s try to understand where they come from. Habits are made by experiences creating fixed ways of thinking inside our brain. To explain this, let’s compare what happens inside your brain to what happens on a farm. There is a farmer named Joe, his vegetable garden, the chicken shed and a mailbox. Every morning farmer Joe first walks to the vegetables, then checks on his chickens, then collects his mail and then walks back to the house. After a few days of this routine, his trace becomes more visible on his farm. After a few months, the trace becomes fixed pathways. Not only on his farm, but also inside his brain. One night Joe has a magical dream where he discovers his love with all living creatures. The next day he sets all of his chickens free. The funny thing is though, instead of adjusting his behavior, he still walks blindly from the vegetable garden to the chicken shed. The trace on the ground, and inside Joe’s brain are now just too deep. To leave the path of habit, we have to go down a new road. This takes time multiple repetitions of our new desired behavior and willpower to keep going. A habit is often a response to a certain trigger, which follows a routine and usually ends with a reward. This is also called a habit loop. Joe’s trigger is the vegetables. As soon as he waters the last tomato, he starts his next routine to automatically walk to the chickens. His reward is to find eggs. And because rewards release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes our brain first happy and then hooked, we get stuck and can’t let go anymore. Joe’s sister lives in the city. She has a funny habit. Whenever she hears her phone, she automatically looks at the screen. Most of the time it’s just a random irrelevant message. This happens even if something far more important was happening right in that moment. The sound from the phone triggers a routine in the hope for a sweet reward and some of that addictive dopamine. To change a habit, journalist Charles Duhigg recommends redesigning the habit loop. Say you like going to the movie theater, but whenever you do, you eat too much of that sweet popcorn. In this case your trigger is the popcorn stand that you pass by whenever you go to the movies. Your routine is buying that popcorn. And your reward is snacking during the film. To change your habit, you could keep the trigger and keep the reward, but replace the routine. Instead of sweet, get salty popcorn. Later maybe even fruits. If a problem gets very serious, remove the trigger. Stop buying movie tickets. If we can’t leave our phone alone, we can turn off all the notifications. And if we have friends that get us into situations that can trigger a bad habit, we can make new friends that don’t. Some habits are tricky. Procrastination for example. There is no clear trigger, routine or reward. It just happens. Habits like that can be changed in tiny steps that leads to small rewards. Next time you procrastinate, try to make some short breaks in which you focus. Your trigger can be the full hour on your clock. Once you hear it, focus on your work even if it is just for 5 minutes. After, reward yourself with a piece of chocolate. The very first day you do that, you will already create some new traces in your brain and the next day some more. After a few weeks, it will be easy to walk down that road. Many small steps added together, make a big difference over time. After all, we still have our entire life in front of us. And to becomes successful, good habits are probably our best bet. As the famous poet John Dryden wrote: “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” Tell us. Have you ever learn or unlearned a habit? Please share your experience in the comments below!

100 thoughts on “How to Change Bad Habits”

  1. i have a bad habit of watching youtube every time but now i am working on it decrease the duration of watching youtube all the time

  2. One of the best videos on habit formation on youtube i have ever seen. Thank you for uploading… Knowledge is powerful if it put to use. And i will use that knowledge for sure to unlearn bad habits and learn good habit. 😊

  3. A very crisp, clear and to the point video about habits. All your videos are always fun to watch. More importantly, always it has something to learn for the child inside me. I guess that's the reward for that child and so it became a habit for me. 😊
    Kudos for good work!!

  4. insider knowledge

    after seeing this vedio i went to the playstore and installed habit loop app..! it helps me keep track of my habits..!

  5. Hưng Nguyễn Văn

    I'm training the habit of doing exercise for 15 minutes every morning. At the beginning it's really hard, but gradually get easier. Now I can do it with ease 😀

  6. Habits that I unlearned,
    1.) Drugs
    2.) Alcohol
    3.) Smoking
    4.) Masturbating (9 days free and the hardest one to unlearned, it takes uncountable relapses)
    5.) Video Games

    Habits that I learned,
    1.) Jogging
    2.) Waking up between 4am – 7am
    3.) Meditating
    4.) Reading
    5.) Calisthenics (Body weight exercise)

  7. Good tips. I have the bad habit of procastinating while on the PC (Funny thing is that this doenst happen while on my tablet) But now I know I must uninstall some programs and install some web blockers, and maybe, my bad habits here will be gone. Thanks Sprouts!

  8. i m training myself right now to study hard. becoz within a few months i am gonna give my life changing exams.😉😁

  9. This video made me leave all my friends who likes to watch any type of movie. Now I'm 50kg lighter with no friends and slowly losing sanity.

  10. NAC (Neuro associative conditioning) is also a way to change your bad habits. In NAC we use pleasure and pain to change habits.

  11. My problem was i always tried learn a lot of habits..and later gave up when I couldnt continue all of 'em…now I'm just trying with baby steps…and a specific trigger…like at 7pm I'll start studying whatever it takes…even if the world gets destroyed. ..somehow my thinking matches with your procrastination counter plan 😊😊

  12. One of the best ways I've found to reinforce a new habit is the "Don't Break the Chain" technique. Very effective.

  13. I was a video game addicted person for last 9 to 10 months but suddenly when my exams came nearer,they were given up automatically,but I am masturbating from last 5 to 6 years bit no trick stopped it,is any one here who never successful in this decision.

  14. your painting and the way u convey the message of life is outstanding fabulous and I love it😃😃😃😃😃😃

  15. I read somewhere that a reward will be more effective if it's related to the habit because if it's something like chocolate, the habit can seem like a chore. Can you explore this more, if possible? This is a link on that :
    I have a hard time sticking to habits and would love your analysis.

  16. earlier this year i was so resolute on building new habits but as the time goes my resolution grows thin, i'm so bad with commitment. What should i do?

  17. I have learnt at the age of 34 many new habits, as I became and observant Jew, while before, I did not do all the tasks of being a Jew with a full awarness of G-d. The success was due to my STRONG WILL. And, G-d's help, of course. But the will was the motivator.

  18. I really love your channel and videos ; such a good quality content ; I wanted something just like this ; you make videos with the core of that topic ; you really deserve a lot more subscribers great work ; keep it up 👍👍

  19. That's really great for someone who is learning english to watch your videos!! That's a real pleasure to hear you speaking I don t feel like I m working

  20. I am unable to understand how could people possibly overlook videos like these? I mean the content is outstanding, and the minute videos is just what we all seek for! Instead we follow YouTubers who feed our inferiorities. Hats off guys, you do a great job!!

  21. Yeah , I went Vegan , stopped eating junk food ,started daily yoga , daily meditation ,oil pulling, and being high 24×7 .😘

    Now trying to be a regular morning person . 5 /6 am . And becoming my greatest version 😍🤣😘😇😍

  22. 💕💕❣️❣️I love you sprout for educating me. Especially with the sketches, it’s so effective to remember. 💕💕❣️❣️❣️

  23. I have learned masterbating and now I am watching your video to unlearn it..its hard to get rid of it😭

  24. I had three very destructive habits: smoking, sleeping late and procrastinating

    I quit smoking by ignoring my mental plea to have a smoke at various times of the day… i have been smoke free for almost 3 months..

    I changed my habit of sleeping late by forcing myself to wake up early in the morning, regardless how many hours of sleep i had.. this made me tired easily at night and helped me to fall asleep early… Now I usually go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7am…

    For my procrastinating habit it’s still a work in progress… I have a severe case of day dreaming and my imagination can run really wild… anytime I watch a movie (specially superhero movies) I imagine myself in that fictionary universe and escape my reality… to change my procrastinating habit i have stopped watching movies and now I always watch infotainment on YouTube… still much work needs to be done as a still find myself day dreaming…

  25. Just A Practical Monster

    actually the reward thing is very crucial.. I know all of this but i never actually tried to take a reward after i try and practice as a habit. I will try to artificially reward myself after each habit

  26. Go to to learn how I stopped over eating sugar and other mental health messages.

  27. I'm keeping 3 of my habits from last 6 days
    1. No social media (simply uninstalled)
    2. No entertaining YouTube video (Turn of notifications and don't worry people with important call will call not message you in urgent)
    3. Sleeping daily for 8 hours( without phone stuff I've lot of more time for sleep)

    And I don't feel crave for any of that old habits so just do it

  28. Like they say "learn a good habit, long enough to make it yours", I would like to commend you for this channel, so much is gain and I share that knowledge with my friends and loved ones. The voice on the videos is the best too, it gives off a secure, stable vibe. I download the videos for future use. Not a huge fan of social media or its norms. But I come to utube to tease my brain and see what new features show from what I learn. Your hard work is highly appreciated, recognized, recommended. So much love for your channel from 🇫🇯 Fiji.

  29. Well. I think that this channel is really good and enchanting for me to learn english. Moreover, it's kindna free so i absolutely appreciate it well. I think it will be better if each of the video has own transcript to help me to have a thorough insight about the topic. Thanks

  30. I was able to go from a habit of smoking cigarettes to using a juul to not smoking anymore. I know its a contentious subject but what saved me was understanding that I wasn't just trading one habit for another, my ultimate goal was to eliminate the habit entirely.

  31. Active to procrastinator.. i know i wont get a like but this is the truth… unwillingness to do anything. Be it study, chores, groceries etc… please help me to get my focus on my goals back.. or my goals would become mere dreams without plans.

  32. >your whole life ahead of you
    Doesn't feel like it when you have a test the next day and you've procrastinated your way to that point hehe.

  33. I struggle with motivation getting out of bed in the morning. My fix: on days when my fiance is home, he gets me coffee but tells me to join him in the other room ☺
    When its just me in the morning….. He calls me to check up on me and i have a job that motivates me not to get fired for tardiness.
    So I guess coffee and money are my dopamine triggers 😂

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