SEP 05, 2018 8:47 AM PDT

What makes a habit?

What is a habit? A habit is something that you do sub-consciously, whether it be something that you want to do or something you don't. But how do you form a new habit? And perhaps an even better question, how do you get rid of an old one?

The trick to forming/un-forming a habit is to become an active thinker and be conscious of the paths that your neurons take over and over again. For example, if you are used to driving home from work through the same route every day, it's likely that you don't even have to think about where you're going. This can be a good thing when you're tired and driving on autopilot (as long as you stay awake!), but it can be a bad thing if you're stuck in traffic and don't even consider an alternative route. 

Habits are formed when a cue elicits a reward; i.e. brushing your teeth makes your mouth feel nice and fresh. But there's another part of habit-forming too: a craving. A craving is what happens when the physical structure of your brain actually changes because a certain cue has elicited a reward so many times that now your brain starts to seek that reward with or without the cue! Want to learn more about the neuroscience behind habits? Watch the video!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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