Understanding the science behind habit formation

Forming a new habit is not easy, but we know that if we want to improve ourselves, then forming a new habit or changing a bad habit is vital.

If you are going to successfully adopt a new habit in your life, then you need to understand how habits are formed.

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg, there are three components to habit formation: cues, routines and rewards.


Clues are what trigger you to form habits.

Cues usually fall into five different categories.

* Emotional states

* Time of day

* Sight

* Place

* Another person

Cues are a very important part of the habit cycle because our subconscious mind automatically reacts to them.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort to counteract this response, which is part of the reason why changing our habits is so challenging.

Most of the time, we completely forget the cues that trigger our habits.


A routine is an action that you perform when a cue is triggered.

When it comes to your bad habits, many experts believe that replacing a bad habit with a healthier one is more effective than trying to eliminate it.

This means that if you have something to fill the void, you will be more likely to eliminate the routines that lead to bad habits.


Although it may not seem obvious, every habit you adopt will be rewarded.

Even the habit of brushing your teeth every night has its reward in the freshness you feel in your mouth.

If the reward is positive, your brain will remember the habit and want to repeat it.

The reward can be anything, but is usually associated with a feeling, milestone or something else tangible.


When you repeat a habit over and over again and are constantly rewarded, your brain begins to develop cravings.

Cravings are essentially the fuel for the habit cycle and what makes habits stick over time.

When the habit cycle doesn’t receive cravings, it requires more effort to complete.

You can use this Habit Cycle framework to deconstruct any of your habits, good or bad, and use the information to eliminate bad habits or create new good ones.

How Habits Work

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