April 24, 2024

BAD HABITS GONE GOOD

A NEW APPROACH TO HABIT HACKING

By Carmen Greger

Let’s face it, we all have all developed our share of bad habits along our journey. However, instead of solely focusing on removing these undesirable behaviors on the path to self-improvement, why not try a different approach?

By adding good habits into your life, you can effectively crowd out the bad ones, naturally leading to better overall well-being. Joshua Rosenthal of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches this concept, aptly termed “crowding out,” where the good choices, priorities, and activities fill the majority of our figurative container, leaving minimal filler space for negative choices that zap our energy, waste our time or simply don’t align as a priority.

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” – Brian Tracy

Imagine a person wanting to get more physically fit but struggling to let go of their nightly glass or two of wine. Instead of focusing all efforts on giving up the wine first and then starting their morning run, a more effective approach would be to begin running regardless of the wine habit. As the positive habit of running gains traction, the bad habit will likely dilute or dissipate (and quite often be less desired), as the healthier lifestyle choices naturally shed light on the drawbacks of the wine habit.

Minor Adjustments for Big Impact:

Sometimes, a small change in behavior can lead to major success. Consider the story of a high school senior who consistently missed the bus because he chose to eat breakfast in bed before getting dressed. He realized it would make better sense to get dressed first because he could always walk out the door with his breakfast in hand, but he couldn’t walk out the door with his clothes in his hand.

By simply reversing the order of activities and getting dressed first, he actually ‘magically’ created an extra five minutes to watch the sunrise while waiting for the bus, and even on the occasion where he had to eat his breakfast on the go, he didn’t miss the bus. A seemingly minor adjustment, but with a significant impact on his mornings. This story is a testament to the power of small changes in our daily routines.

Piggybacking:

Another helpful strategy is “piggybacking,” where you combine activities to create good habits by association. For example, placing your vitamins next to your toothbrush can help remind you to take them every night before brushing your teeth. This association naturally creates a routine that’s easy to follow. Another example might be listening to a motivational podcast while preparing dinner, so that cooking becomes an opportunity to learn and grow. The more you can combine activities, the easier it will be to incorporate positive habits into your life.

Focusing on the Positive:

Remember, we often get more of what we focus on. If we constantly zoom in on our negative habits, they may become even more of an obstacle. Instead, focus on adding positive habits, creating productive rituals and routines that naturally lead to a better life experience.

“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.” – Dennis S. Brown         

In the quest to improve our lives, it’s important to remember that adding good habits is just as vital as eliminating the bad ones, and quite often should be a priority focus, as it will shed light on the shadow which becomes weakened and eventually dissipates. By crowding out negative behaviors, making minor adjustments, and strategically utilizing association and piggybacking activities, we can create lasting change that helps us reach our goals, personally and professionally.

As we focus on the positive and embrace the power of good habits, our lives will naturally become more fulfilling, productive, and enjoyable. So, go ahead and start adding those good habits, and watch as the bad ones fade away

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” -Zig Ziglar