If you are interested in the science behind habits – the good and the bad, then today’s featured ‘bookazine’, Understanding Habits, will be of interest to you.
Before we jump into today’s post, you can check out the introduction to this series here to learn what it’s all about.
This post is coming to you a week later than intended. It’s a little bit ironic given that I’ve been trying to make this post a weekly habit, but there we go. The truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to feature just a small section of Understanding Habits; it’s all one cohesive piece rather than a typical collation of separate but loosely related articles. It is a 128 page ‘bookazine’ with chapters about the science of habit-making, as well as tips and tricks on how to reinforce good habits and break bad ones.
Even if you are not driven to understand the science behind habits, I would recommend still reading this section. If nothing else, this section of Understanding Habits helps to explain how habits are made biologically. Not only that, but we also learn why we can struggle with breaking bad habits here. No, it’s not just a lack of willpower. There is science to prove that humans will regularly slip back into old habits!
There are aspects of science thrown in the mix throughout the ‘bookazine’. The biological element is explored near the beginning, with case studies featuring later on. Some of the studies featured in the article, which I found interesting, are as follows: –
- Studies on twins separated at birth have indicated characteristics such as dress sense, hobbies and interests have a genetic link.
- Social media uses the habits of friends and family to predict our habits.
- Streaming platforms tailor recommendations – as we all know. However, some will customise everything up to and including thumbnail and imagery to appeal and encourage the habit of using their streaming service.
If you’re looking for help with creating and reinforcing good habits, Understanding Habits has plenty to offer. Without going into too much scientific detail, there is a basis for justifying providing yourself with a reward for performing a good behaviour. Even if that reward doesn’t necessarily seem conducive to the habit you are trying to build in the short term, you can eventually take away that reward and maintain the behaviour without it. Over time, the positive reinforcement will have made the behaviour a habit. When you take away that reward, you will still maintain the behaviour.
If you are looking to try to build up a new habit, do so after well-established habit or routine. Some examples are drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning, or driving to the gym instead of going home after work on certain days of the week.
And of course, the building of a habit needs to be a conscious effort. Based on the timelines indicated in the ‘bookazine’, you can expect to spend a couple of months building a habit. So, don’t be frustrated if you don’t get there straight away. Persevere and give yourself a chance.
There are a number of ‘bad’ habits outlined in Understanding Habits, alongside advice on how you can break them. I don’t like to admit how many of these bad habits I have. Personally, I didn’t find all the advice particularly useful. Using nail polish with a bitter taste to prevent nail-biting has never deterred me. Equally, it doesn’t matter how conscious I am at meal times, I wolf my food. Just telling myself to slow down isn’t going to help me, especially when my stomach is protesting like my throat’s been cut.
Just because some of these haven’t worked for me, that doesn’t mean to say that it isn’t good advice. As with all things, everybody is unique and individual. What works for me won’t work for others, and vice versa.
I’ve touched on a very small fraction of what the ‘bookazine’ Understanding Habits has to offer. If you’re intrigued from the highlights of today’s post, then I was strongly recommend getting yourself a copy and going through it. There is plenty to learn from it. There are techniques I will try to help continue building and maintaining good habits.
Let me know if you have enjoyed today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! post. If there is a topic you would like to see me feature in future, please let me know in the comments.