Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them?
Psychiatrist Judson Brewer has dedicated his life to study the relationship between mindfulness and addiction. From smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we fully understand they’re bad for us. On his TED talk, called “A simple way to break a bad habit” you can learn more about the mechanism of habit development and explore a simple but profound mechanism that can help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.
To begin this process, you need to understand what “context-dependent memory” is. Most of our bad habits developed over time. When a need is triggered, then a behavioral action is taken and then a reward is received. Once you get the reward, and your need is fulfilled, your brain records that behavior as the solution for that urge, even if it is not good for you.
There is an important thing you need to keep in mind to make this process work for your advantage:
It is all about awareness and curiosity:
The first step to breaking a bad habit is to become aware of its existence. Surprisingly, many people never reach this step; some habits form during our early childhood and are often picked up from mimicking parents or guardians, these seem completely normal. The second step is to become curious. Dr. Judson explains that you become aware of the real implications of your bad habits when you actually spend some time being curious while acting on your cravings, thus you become disenchanted with them and are more capable of quitting for good.
To better understand about this mindfulness training that can help you quit on bad habits, Dr. Judson has created a page called “Craving to Quit” and there is even an app you can download to your phone.
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