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

The 6 Worst Relationship Habits and How to Overcome Them

We typically think of habits as bothersome behaviors that affect us as individuals. However, there are habits that couples develop which can be just as bothersome, if not more so. By keeping us from getting the most we can out of our closest bonds with others, they can stand in between us and true relationship happiness.

Get More Sleep and a Better Night's Rest

Exhausted? Longing for more sleep? If you have a hard time getting yourself to bed, and don't sleep very well once you get there, these tips will help you get a better night's rest.

The 30-Day Money C-H-O-I-C-E Challenge

By Michael F. Kay on October 01, 2015 Financial Life Focus
Ever looked at your stack of bills and wonder how the heck you're going to get these paid? How did that feel? Rotten, right? Of course it did. No wants to live with the weight of debt—to carry that hopeless frustration deep into their bones.

Are People More Interested in Sex Today Than Before?

By Paul Joannides Psy.D. on September 30, 2015 As You Like It
Are you more interested in sex than your parents or grandparents were?

A Day of Eating in Paris

A day of observations lends some insight into the age old question: Why do the French eat so well yet stay so slim?

7 Things I Learned About Myself, from Getting a Dog

By Gretchen Rubin on September 30, 2015 The Happiness Project
To live a happier, healthier, more productive life, I’ve learned, is less about learning new things and more about putting the things we already know into action.

4 Smart Ways to Save $10 on Your Next Grocery Shopping Trip

Use research from consumer psychology and marketing science to outwit grocery marketers & save money.

Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on September 29, 2015 Black Belt Brain
Ever wonder at a beautiful between the legs return in tennis, or an incredible behind the back pass in ice hockey? The sense of touch can help do that even when the athlete can't see where the racket or the stick is—they just know.

Why Is Commonsense Common?

Some commonsense is hard-won with experience, yet at the same time infants the world over seem to understand how some things in the world work.

The Purpose of Worry and How to Manage it

There are many reasons why a person may develop the kind of anxiety that includes ruminative worrying. And there are many tools to control that kind of worry. Give these ideas a try—you might be surprised that you can eliminate worry.

You Are Not Your Body

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Ambigamy
If the history of the universe were shrunk to one year, life would have started today, September 21. Here's what happened and how to make sense of what you are as a result.

Do You Text While Driving?

By Gretchen Rubin on September 16, 2015 The Happiness Project
About one quarter of car accidents involve the use of a smart phone.

Financial Security for the Light Sleeper

By Michael F. Kay on September 10, 2015 Financial Life Focus
Have you ever had trouble falling asleep, worried about what would happen if you—fill-in-the-blank with your nightmare—lost your job, tanked your business, got sick and needed expensive treatment?

5 Ways Your Pursuit of Happiness Can Backfire

Your pursuit of happiness may not have a happy ending if you're making these mistakes along the way.

5 Secrets to Do What You Don’t Want to Do

Do you know what is best for you, yet find it difficult to actually WANT to do what you need to do? Here are 5 secrets on how to get yourself to do what you need to do, in order to get what you most desire.

Six Ways Universities Can Foster Better Ethics on Campus

If colleges make ethical development a priority and infuse campus life with ethical decision making we would likely have many fewer press headlines about college students behaving badly. And we’d likely also have less anxious parents and administrators too!

The Self as Schtick:

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on September 06, 2015 A Swim in Denial
A schtick is a gimmick that wraps something up neatly. It’s the clichéd fistfight or kiss that clinches a pop story. It’s helps us make sense of the oceans of information we surf. But we’re ambivalent about it. It can delight us with a feeling of mastery, but it can also falsify the world and the self.

September is the Other January - Time for a New Start

By Gretchen Rubin on September 01, 2015 The Happiness Project
Summer is over, and the fall brings fresh beginnings and new possibilities.

Remembering Blackouts: An Interview with Sarah Hepola

By Anna David on August 27, 2015 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?

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 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

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

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

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

Our body-mind connection can bring more energy and peace into our lives.

Inviting Mara to Tea

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.