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

New Strategy and Overdue Resource to Combat Medical Errors

American employers must help eliminate medical errors, but how can we get them to do it?
Google

Want to Change an Important Habit?

By Gretchen Rubin on July 12, 2017 in The Happiness Project
Do you want to make a significant change in your life? Or help someone else to make an important change?

Don't Let Safety Advice Fall on Deaf Ears

Can you name two important factors that affect whether people will follow safety advice?

Mattering and Morphing

Do you have trouble understanding your own and others' minds in their full complexity?

13 Easy Ways to Be Happy Everyday

Does happiness elude you? Well, it starts with your daily habits.

How to Make a Positive Difference at Work

How to Make a Positive Difference at Work Put on your listening ears.

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Forget diets. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need a strategy that will stand the test of time.

Do You Reward Yourself in Ways that You Later Regret?

How do you prefer to reward yourself, or celebrate? Indulgent foods, spending and alcohol may feel good in the moment, yet can leave a trail of regrets in their wake.

How We Can Become Better People Through Teamwork with Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 28, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new book stresses the importance of humans and dogs growing together as a team and benefits for both.

Our Worst Angels: Inconvenient Psychological Truths, Part 1

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in Insight Therapy
What might rappers, gender studies academics, and abusive parents have in common?

Why Posted Prices Are Often Meaningless

There’s a significant gap between asked-for prices and what customers actually pay.
By Sanjay Acharya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

New Thinking Required: Oil, Cars, and Walking

Cars changed us. How will we change cars?

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Having the assurance that the commitment in the relationship is strong and sturdy provides a large playing field to struggle with the essential issues that every couple must face.

Eating Disorders in the LGBT Community

Why does the LGBT population have a higher prevalence of eating disorders?

What is Undisciplined Spending?

It’s a repeated, habitual pattern of three potentially harmful spending behaviors.
Jake Rustenhoven, flickr

I Give My Own Response to the “Ask Amy” Advice Column

To my mind, the writer’s problem is not “I’m lazy,” it’s “I need accountability.”

Why Are These Men Downloading Child Pornography?

By Karen Franklin Ph.D. on May 30, 2017 in Witness
Porn videos have only streamed over tube channels for a single decade. In that brief time, they've wrought unprecedented changes in sexuality.

3 Exercises That Build Mental Strength in Just 5 Minutes

These mental strength building exercises are like push ups for your brain. Do them consistently and build your mental muscle in less than five minutes a day.

8 Habits That Make Millennials Stressed And Unproductive

By Caroline Beaton on May 26, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
More than half of millennials admit to having lain awake at night during the past month from stress.
University Leicester, flickr

My Best Advice for Graduates: 12 Tips for a Happy Life

What advice would you give to a graduate?

3 Easy Tips to Reduce Job Stress and Avoid Burnout

How to unwind even when you're too stressed to think straight.
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Whenever an Obliger struggles to get something done, the solution is always the same: external accountability. It’s just a question of figuring out what form it’s going to take.

Forgiveness Part 3

Her transformed self-image has been earned and hard-won. She has become a courageously outspoken advocate for and an inspiration to many men and women...

The Habit Replacement Loop

Replace your bad habits with good ones! New research on habit formation offers information on how to improve student success by establishing a new normal in learning.

Forgiveness Part 2

Monica found her way to forgiveness the hard way, the way many people do, by experiencing pain and betrayal.

Keeping Patients Safe

Have you given enough thought to what's necessary to stay safe during a planned or emergency hospital visit?
airpix, flickr

Warning! Don’t Expect to Be Motivated by Motivation

Instead of thinking about motivation, I argue that we should think about aims, and then concrete, practical, realistic steps to take us closer to our aims.

Five Counterintuitive Ways to Benefit From Psychotherapy

Are you running out of ways to make therapy more useful? Try these approaches.

Feeling Depressed? Train Your Brain to Do This, Instead

If you're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, these mindset shifts can help you heal.

Marijuana: The Newest Invasive Species

By Mark Borigini M.D. on April 30, 2017 in Overcoming Pain
As if cell phones and one-more-Corona were not enough to keep those of us who do value our lives off the highways, now we all must contend with a large population driving stoned.