Why Do We Do Bad Habits? And How Can We Break Them?

Why Do We Do Bad Habits? And How Can We Break Them?

You most likely already know what’s good for
you and what’s not. You know that eating fried, fast food, is
not good for you. You understand that laying on the couch, watching
TV and browsing social media is also bad. And you’re fully aware that smoking is horrible
for your health. Now the question is, why do you do the things
that you know are not good for you? If you logically understand which habits are
bad, why don’t you avoid them? In this video I’ll explain why you keep on
performing those bad habits and I’ll give you a solution for the problem. So listen carefully. This is Mike. Like a lot of other people, Mike loves to
play video games and browse social media on a daily basis. On the weekends he likes to party, which involves
smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. However Mike also has high ambitions and
wants to have his own successful business. Now Mike isn’t stupid. He knows there are negative side effects that
come along with his habits. But why does he keep mindlessly playing video
games and partying on the weekends, when those activities are not aligned with his goals
and are ruining his results? Logically he should be avoiding those bad
habits, but for some reason he keeps giving in to his cravings. One of the reasons is that humans didn’t evolve
to delay gratification, but instead we evolved to put priority on actions that give us the
most benefit in the moment. Our ancestors spent their days responding
to different threats, finding shelter and securing the next meal. It made sense to place high value on things
that would benefit us immediately. What could potentially happen in the future
was less of a concern. So when our ancestors found food, they ate
it right away. They didn’t wait and be like: “Oh, i’m on
a diet, I’ll eat that tomorrow.” No, that wouldn’t make any sense in terms
of survival, as tomorrow was not guaranteed. However in the modern society, we don’t have
to spend hours searching for a meal or running away from a predator. Instead, today we live in a “delayed-return
environment”. Essentially we can work for years before our
actions deliver the intended payoff. If we do a good job at work today, we’ll get
a paycheck in a few weeks. If we start exercising every day from tomorrow
on, we probably won’t see any physical changes for months. But even if the rewards in the modern world
are delayed, the human nature has stayed the same. Our brains are still wired to put a higher
priority on things that will give us an instant return, rather than delayed return. And the thing with bad habits is that the
rewards are immediate, while the consequences are delayed. Smoking and drinking might kill Mike in 10
years, but in the moment it feels good. Playing video games and browsing social media
might waste years of Mike’s time, but it brings him some satisfaction immediately. To our brains, a reward that is certain right
now, is worth more than the one that is merely a future possibility. Now while our bad habits might seem destructive,
they are not meant to be. We perform those bad habits, because we get
a craving for them. And we all have these cravings, each one of
us does. However our brain didn’t evolve with a specific
desire to smoke cigarettes, to check Instagram or to play video games. Those cravings are just a manifestation of
an underlying motive. At a deeper level, people smoke because they
want to reduce stress and anxiety. They use social media websites to win social
acceptance and approval. And they play video games to relax or to connect
with others. In other words: our habits, whether they’re
good or bad, are just modern day solutions to ancient desires. We perform them because they provide some
soft of benefits, otherwise we wouldn’t do them. It just happens that some of those habits
come with delayed consequences. Smoking might reduce stress in the moment,
but it’s doing damage to your health. Social media might help you feel connected
to others, but overusing it could shorten your attention span. Video games can be relaxing, but they tend
to be a huge time sink. But since those consequences are so far into
the future, it makes bad habits much more difficult to eliminate. And because they provide us with some benefits,
we can’t expect to simply cut them out and be done with them. If we do, we’ll have certain needs that will
be unmet. That’s why simplistic advice like “just stop
those habits” doesn’t work. But once you understand all of this, the process
becomes much easier. You see, your current habits are not necessarily
the best way to solve the problems you face. They are just a method you learned to use. After all, there are many different ways to
address the same underlying issue. One person might learn to reduce stress by
smoking. Another person learns to decrease it, by going
for a run or lifting weights at the gym. Same craving, but a different and a much better
solution. And this is one of the best ways to break
your bad habits. Replacing them with better alternatives. But it’s not that straightforward. First you need to identify what craving does
your bad habit fulfill. Does it decrease stress? Maybe it relieves boredom? Most of the time, it’s not immediately obvious
and it will probably require some hard thinking. But once you know what benefit your habit
provides you with, then you can look for its replacement. This is how Mike started his habit replacement
journey. Firstly, he wrote down all the habits he knew
were holding him back from reaching his goals. In his case: mindlessly playing video games,
browsing too much social media, excessive smoking and drinking on the weekends. Secondly, he identified what triggered those
habits. Mike found out that he played video games
whenever he was stressed. He browsed social media whenever he was bored. And he went out partying on the weekends,
because that was his way of connecting with other people. Thirdly, after some digging, Mike found suitable
replacements for his cravings. He decided that exercising was a better alternative
to relieve stress. He started reading business articles and books,
to learn something new, whenever he felt bored. And finally he began going out with friends
for lunch or a cup of coffee, so he could still nourish bonds with other people. Mike still had the same cravings as he did
before. He just replaced bad solutions, with better
alternatives that aligned with his goals. Now while this might sound simple enough,
it’s far from it. There are other obstacles that Mike had to
overcome. Because his bad habits were automatic, Mike
still found himself unconsciously performing them, even if he knew about an alternative
solution. That’s why he started optimizing his environment
in a way that would make his bad habits difficult to perform, while making good habits easy
to do. Our environment has a big impact on our behavior
and it was no different for Mike. His video games, were always in a visible
place and easily accessible. So Mike un-installed his games, unplugged
his console along with everything else, and hid it in the closet. Where his gaming station once was, there is
now a gym bag waiting, primed and ready to go. You might think that this wouldn’t work. After all, Mike could always just drag his
console back from the closet, plug it back in and install the games again. Sure, it’s only 5 minutes of work, but he
would have to get over this extra obstacle he set up for himself. And it worked wonders. Instead of automatically grabbing the controller
and playing like he usually did, this extra hurdle allowed him to re-think his behavior. And because his gym bag was already waiting
there, that made his decision to go to the gym much, much easier. He didn’t have to search for gym clothes or
get the bag ready, it was already waiting. Video games however, were not. Mike did the same with his social media habit. However he couldn’t just hide his phone, because
he needed it for work purposes. Instead he optimized it in a way that would
serve him. Mike deleted all social media apps. He replaced them with links to articles and
he downloaded an app for digital books he wanted to read. Sure, he could still access social media through
his web browser. But again, it added an extra hurdle to overcome
and it allowed him to reconsider his behavior. So he opted for an easier option, which was
already waiting for him. By manipulating surroundings to work in his
favor, Mike dramatically increased his chances of succeeding with habit change. And you can do the same. Another problem Mike faced, was that his replacement
habit wasn’t as satisfying. At least not yet. So he had to find a way to encourage himself
to continue pursuing his new habits. Mike decided to use a reward system to motivate
himself. After he went to the gym and finished his
workout, he treated himself to a raspberry protein shake. His favorite flavor. This positive reinforcement made Mike actually
enjoy going to the gym. Not only did he fulfill his desire to feel
good and less stressed, but he also got something to look forward to. Another reward. What also helped Mike make his habits more
enjoyable, was tracking his progress. He got a big calendar set up on his wall,
where he could always see it. Every time he performed his new habit, instead
of his previous one, he marked a big X over the day. After a few days, Mike formed a chain of Xs. And by doing his new habit over and over,
the chain was growing longer and longer. This visual progress then motivated him to
keep on going, as he didn’t want to lose his streak. This habit tracking was especially uplifting
on bad days. When Mike was feeling down, he forgot about
all the progress he had already made. But his habit tracking provided a visual proof
of his previous hard work. And that empty square motivated him to keep
on going. Progress is one of the best ways to motivate
yourself. When you can see that you’re moving forward,
you become more motivated to continue down that path. Plus it adds a little bit of immediate satisfaction
to any activity, as marking that big X over the day is a reward of its own. Breaking bad habits takes time and effort,
but mainly it takes perseverance. A lot of people try breaking them multiple
times and they often fail, before they finally make it work. That’s because the longer you’ve had that
bad habit, the more challenging it is to replace it. So you might not succeed right away, but that
doesn’t mean you can’t get your desired results. Mike also didn’t change overnight. He did it slowly and sometimes he still fails. But what’s important is that he’s on the right
path. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed
the first time. Instead, find out why you fell short, learn
from that experience and use the information to not make the same mistake in the future. The only way to truly fail is by giving up. Persevere and you will find your success. Thanks for watching.

56 thoughts on “Why Do We Do Bad Habits? And How Can We Break Them?”

  1. Your words become your actions,
    Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values,
    Your values become your destiny
    controlling our habits is controlling our destiny

  2. • I love Nothing but Peace so meh

    In short what u reap is what u sow.
    Plus dont let boredom run your life its way better to be mindful of your choices if u wanna stop a bad habit anyways.

  3. O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me

    Bad habits is a consequence of the emotional void that we try tap into.
    A purpose, a meaning in life, can help to find a direction in life.

  4. Skuta Daniel Viorel

    you have no idea what smoking is, stop giving people bad advice. every single smoker does it for a simple single reason, addiction to nicotine. as a former smoker, i cannot recomend enough Allen Carr's book, The Easyway to stop smoking! stay healthy and god bless

  5. there is no reason to not make yourself as happy as you can NOW.
    life is finite, death will be here sooner than you think no matter what you do.

  6. must say that I have the feeling that games dont fit in with bad habits, replacing it with watching tv would be better. since gaming isnt bad on its own as long as you dont overdo it insanely. games bring together whole groups of people, its not an mere habit but more of an hobby where you can exercise mentally to do better (aka making personal progress) so I watched this with an twisted feeling but overall good vid.

  7. Hi, thank you for share knowledge and help us to improve ours behavior. I’m from Peru. This method seems to be the only one that can help me with my bad habits. I take away smoking and drinking replacing those with daily meditation, now it 100% works. Today I’m going to prepare my almanacs for track my progress. I’m waiting for your next video, thank you very much!

  8. Thanks for this good video.
    Cigarette don't reduce stress. But when people who is addicted to cigarette didn't smoke it will be stressful for they. Because of abstinence syndrome. But when they give up cigarette 2-4 weeks later this abstinence syndrome will dissapear.

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