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—and maintain—new habits.

Recent posts on Habit Formation

Stanford Scientists Discover Surprising Cerebellum Functions

A pioneering Stanford University study has discovered a previously unknown cognitive role of specific neurons in the historically overlooked cerebellum (Latin for "little brain").
jessica wilson, flickr

For the International Day of Happiness

By Gretchen Rubin on March 20, 2017 in The Happiness Project
If someone asked you, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about happiness?” what would you answer?
Courtesy of Max Pixel

Are We Doomed to Repeat Our Relationship Patterns?

Do the attachment styles we develop in childhood inevitably shape our adult relationships? And if so, can they be changed?

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One woman's inspiring story and her simple happiness hack.

How Much Vigorous Exercise Will Prevent You From Dying?

There seems to be a way around the 5-to-7-a-week exercise goal.

The Secret to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution

The real reason you haven't kept your resolution will surprise you.

Moving Out of Life as a Lab Rat

"Lab rat living" feels as if you are “doing time.” There is no psychological engagement with the world, resulting in a limited range and depth of your emotional experiences.

Your Children Will Give You What You Seem to Expect

By David M. Allen M.D. on February 27, 2017 in A Matter of Personality
When parents are overly preoccupied with something their child does, the child may think the parents need to be thusly preoccupied, and so increase the behavior's frequency.

Accountability With Physical Fitness Goals

If you do a review of what has worked for you in the past, what can you discover about how to set the stage for success with your goals?

Successful Change With Dumbo's Feather

By John Sean Doyle on February 27, 2017 in Luminous Things
Sometimes we need something to remind us that we can soar too.

Polite Doctors are Safer Doctors

Little things like polite communication and consistent use of basic safety habits can mean the difference between life and death medical care.

Why You Should Stop Asking Google What to Do With Your Life

After two hours of relentless searching and surfing, I felt agitated, anxious, and paralyzed, entirely overwhelmed with possibilities but unable to move on anything.

What Works for Me May Not Work for You

When it comes to fitness goals, if you find a type of movement that feels both good and right to you, it’s much more likely to become a habit.
Guy Sie, flickr

Do You Hate to Rush?

By Gretchen Rubin on February 21, 2017 in The Happiness Project
By figuring out easy, quick ways to make it faster to head out the door, we can give ourselves a bigger margin of time.

Success, the Slow-Cooked Way

There is no shortage of crash diet options, but what if our bodies need time to acclimate? What if they actually need a slow-cooked method of change over a long period of time?
Unsplash.com

Create a Morning Routine That Works For You

By Jeffrey Davis M.A. on February 15, 2017 in Tracking Wonder
Most of us have heard and read the value of a morning routine. Yet, despite our best intentions, morning routines often go awry. What to do?

Psychosexual Stages: Freud’s Theory of Personality

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on February 14, 2017 in A Sideways View
Is it true that many of our adult behaviours are a function of unresolved conflicts in childhood?

Mindful Eating for the Mamavore

Do you pay attention to what you are eating? Having kids can make it challenging. Here are a few reminders to keep us on our mindful eating game.

Addicted to Your Kid? Narcissism, Fear and Parenting

By Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W. on February 13, 2017 in Adoption Stories
It's possible for people to be addicted to other people—including their children.

Purposeful Quirks Can Help You Build a Can-Do Attitude

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on February 11, 2017 in Creating in Flow
I interviewed dozens of famous writers and wrote a book about them. One of the nicest was Carolyn See. Read my interview with her now.

Is Someone Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals?

By Meg Selig on February 07, 2017 in Changepower
Could friends, family, or colleagues try to sabotage your weight loss success? A recent small study shows that "lean stigma" does exist and what you can do about it.

How Habits Become Your Destiny

About 40 percent of your daily behavior is based on habits. Learn to master those habits to master your life.

What's It Like to Write a Book?

When faced with any project, creative or otherwise, we often face doubt and fear. Learn how to keep them at bay with this one simple trick.

Why Productivity Is Counterproductive

By Caroline Beaton on February 05, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Chasing productivity can sabotage performance and impact.

Let's Get Responsive

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on January 31, 2017 in Your Future Self
How can you start being more responsive in your relationship today? The good news is that you have a cornucopia of avenues to choose from.

Making hospitals safer, healthier

Worried about medical errors? There are simple things you can do to protect yourself and others.

Why We Resist Change

By Ralph Ryback M.D. on January 25, 2017 in The Truisms of Wellness
The body’s inertia is an overlooked concept when it comes to understanding our inherent complex resistance to beginning a new diet or exercise routine.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Holds Promise for Treating Addiction

By Christopher Bergland on January 24, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Vagus nerve stimulation can reduce cravings and may offer a radical new way to break the cycle of addictive behaviors, according to early findings from a preclinical study.

Not Exactly a Lie, But...

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on January 13, 2017 in Trust
Why do we try to avoid lying, when we so often deceive by other means?

Borderline Personality: Why They May Not “Get Used to It"

A recent study showed that persons with borderline personality disorder do not "get used" to the sight of unpleasant pictures as others do. Error management theory tells us why.