Understanding Habit Formation

Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you've acquired a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. That's because the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it's possible to form new habits (and maintain them as well). 

Recent Posts on Habit Formation

Remembering Blackouts: An Interview with Sarah Hepola

By Anna David on August 27, 2015 in After Party Chat
In the first of a two-part interview, the author shares her thoughts on how alcoholism isn’t always a burning building but a "wrecking ball from inside."

What Mindfulness App Is Right for You?

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on August 22, 2015 in Urban Survival
New study reveals the top 4 mindfulness apps. Which one fits your personality best?

9 Subtle Habits that Could be Killing Your Career

Just one or two bad habits can prevent you from advancing your career.

Using Attention to Get People to Do the Right Thing

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 21, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
We want people to take the stairs rather than the elevator, to eat fruits and vegetables rather than candy bars, and to help others rather than thinking only about themselves.

All or Nothing

Gretchen Rubin describes habits as, "the invisible architecture of our everyday lives," and she is correct. Studies show we repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily. Habits are powerful. Why not make them good ones?

Are You a Quitter? Time to Bulk Up Your Willpower

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on August 14, 2015 in Fixing Families
The antidote to being a quitter is recognizing where you get stuck and learning to override these emotions. Tips for developing perseverance.

Get Into Your Money Groove

By Michael F. Kay on August 12, 2015 in Financial Life Focus
We each have something that is uniquely our thing. It might be hitting a golf ball, working in a laboratory, counseling people, building furniture or flower arranging.

No Regret Insurance - Preventing One of Life's Tragedies

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on August 08, 2015 in Just Listen
What a tragedy to get to the end of your life filled with regret and no time left to make it right

Peace in Ourselves, Peace in the World: Body-Mind Altering

By Joseph Cardillo Ph.D. on August 06, 2015 in Attention Training
Our body-mind connection can bring more energy and peace into our lives.

Inviting Mara to Tea

By Tara Brach Ph.D. on August 03, 2015 in Finding True Refuge
One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart.

Withdrawal and Inactivity Feed Depression

If you're depressed, it's natural to feel like withdrawing from others and it can be hard to motivate yourself to do anything. Unfortunately, giving into these behaviors is likely to make your mood worse, not better. Here are some small tips on how to get back on course to mental health and happiness.

6 Ways to Stop (Mentally) Beating Yourself Up

How to stop being your own worst bully.

Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread

By Gretchen Rubin on July 29, 2015 in The Happiness Project
What do you do, when you need to restore yourself?

Can You Create Good Habits That Stick?

Do you have the chance to do what you do best each day at work? Take a moment and think about it. Do you have the chance to do what you do best each day?

Are You an Adventurous Eater?

By Susan Albers Psy.D. on July 23, 2015 in Comfort Cravings
Do you like to try new, exotic foods or do you stick to the same foods you know you like? You may be surprised by some of the benefits of being an adventurous eater outlined in this article.

The Best Strategy For Getting Motivated

By Susan Albers Psy.D. on July 15, 2015 in Comfort Cravings
This month I've been focusing on motivation tips and getting to the bottom of what helps people to move out of their old ruts and start eating healthier and more mindfully today. Find out here!

A Memoir and a List of Loopholes Used to Justify Drinking

By Gretchen Rubin on July 14, 2015 in The Happiness Project
Do you have a favorite loophole, that you find yourself turning to most often?

Why Waiting for Your Vacation to Unwind May Be Hurting You

Have you been waiting for that highly-anticipated vacation? Research is demonstrating that including daily break rituals in your routine can help stave off burnout and keep you from stress overload and exhaustion.

2 Words That Could Mean You Have a Drug Problem

What you say to yourself and to others about your drug or alcohol use is trying to tell you something. Listen.

Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men?

Women live longer than men because of modern lifestyle factors, rather than any biological difference, a new study reports.

Can You Create Lasting Change?

When it comes to creating the changes you really want to make in your work or in you life, do ever find you have difficulty making this last?

Why We Use Drugs: The Power of Addictive Tendencies

Addictions are a hotel; they are not home but can remind people of home so powerfully that they won’t easily abandon them without knowing where their real home is and how to get there.

Put Your Strengths to Work!

Do you have the chance to do what you best each day? Not just now and again. Not even just most days. But each and every day?

When Adolescents Continually Lie

Continually lying to parents needs to prove counter-productive for the adolescent.

Lessons From Happiness and Habits to Help Me Buy a Backpack

By Gretchen Rubin on June 26, 2015 in The Happiness Project
Some people love finishing, and some people love opening—both literally and figuratively.

Why We Shouldn’t Reward Ourselves for Good Habits

By Gretchen Rubin on June 24, 2015 in The Happiness Project
In large part because the lesson is: be very wary of using rewards to master habits!

Behavioral Economics—An Exercise in Design and Humility

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in Consumed
What's the state of your bad decision making? Read Dan Ariely's exclusive take on irrationality and its consequences.

What My Husband Taught Me About Unpacking

By Gretchen Rubin on June 22, 2015 in The Happiness Project
When I was younger, I followed the “unpack as necessary” approach. I’d leave my suitcase open on the floor, and take out things as I needed them...it took a few days to empty the suitcase.

Good Pain, Bad Pain: Can You Tell the Difference?

There comes a day when you realize what you really need is a babysitter, coach, therapist or a bootcamp.

Inside Out: Emotional Intelligence Made (Maybe Too) Easy

This movie makes it fun to ponder emotional conflict, but it needs a sequel on the risk of using sadness as a way to get love. Til then, we can learn more about our inner conflicts from gorgeous graphics than boring buzzwords.