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LM.JACKSON's Photo LM.JACKSON Posts: 1,989
12/30/08 1:01 P

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How do you form a good habit?

Making a good habit is the same as making a bad habit. The brain is amoral when it comes to habits. It does not care if it is good or bad. All it knows is that the habit action is routinely performed so it would benefit from an improved neurological pathway for more efficient processing.

Creating a habit is easy. And that can cause you a lot of problems. Since habits form so easily, you need to make sure you are doing “good” things when you create it.
To form a habit all you need to do is repeat the activity. With enough repetitions it becomes a habit. A habit can be formed in as little as 10 days, depending on the amount of repetition. The more you do it after the habit is formed, the more reinforcement you give to that habit and the stronger it becomes.

You can make the process easier if the habit activity has some good rewards associated to it. A good work out is often rewarded with endorphins; a good study session gets you a better grade. But the reward does not make it a habit. That comes with repetition and the neurological pathway.

To form a good habit, as opposed to a bad habit, it helps to structure the habit-forming process:

Here is where morality or ethics come into play. What makes this habit good? Will it really benefit me in a positive way and how will it do that?

Habits are best formed when they are rewarding. It gives you something to work towards before the habit is formed. Unconscious rewards are the best (like a better forehand smash), but if it they are not available invent some.

Perform the habit activity over a 2 to 4 weeks. Two weeks should establish the habit and an additional two weeks will provide good reinforcement strength. Ensure you repeat the habit activity at least 3 times a week, daily is better. Make sure there are no disruptions from the schedule.

After the habit is formed, you can skip a session, take a break for vacation, or even stop the activity for years and it will still easily come back to you upon request.

Erie, PA
Rejoined 1/2013 Goal for 12/2012 - lose 58 lbs.
“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.” ~William Shakespeare

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