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By Joan Reeves aka SlingWords
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6 Ways to Build a New Habit

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Image by  1114467 from Pixabay

I’m a fan of Huberman Lab YouTube channel. He’s a neuroscientist who tries to convey research in the fields of health (brain, vision, longevity, etc.) in accessible language for viewers who aren’t neuroscientists.

In case you aren’t acquainted with Dr. Huberman’s channel, he’s currently under attack by an interesting consortium of critics.

Some say he’s merely the latest sacrifice chosen for his belief that one should be self-autonomous regarding one’s health. Others say he fakes science and manipulates women, asking how many he’s slept with? Ugh.

Since I fact-check research cited by so-called health experts on YouTube, I’ve not found his information specious. Anything you hear or see online that you want to adopt should always be checked for truth.


What I’m posting about today is not about the controversy brewing around him but about one of his videos I watched quite some time ago about how to “make” yourself do the healthy things you know are good for you—like working out every day.

We all have that goal, but too often you find yourself at bedtime feeling like a loser because you didn’t shoehorn that into your busy day.

The answer to the problem is to develop the daily habit of working out. Yes. Another simple thing that isn’t easy. I’ll try to distill the information in his long video and how I used it to build a daily habit.


Image by Homegrounds from Pixabay

(1) Analyze the habits you already have.

Some habits are context dependent, i.e., brushing your teeth every morning. Most of us have done that every day of our lives since we were children because our parents taught us to do it. 

It’s embedded in automatic. Or, in neuroscientist lingo, it’s an action of AUTOMATICITY.
“Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.”
Our parents made sure we learned to brush our teeth after meals, that we repeated that action every day, and that practice made us good at it and embedded it into our daily routine.
So think about all the things you do on a daily basic that require no thinking or self-discipline on your part. If working out isn’t one of those, it’s because you must overcome a lot of FRICTION—I call it INERTIA—to overcome in order to do it.
It’s simply easier to not do it than to force yourself to do it. What you need to do is get into automaticity—make working out a habit.
(2) Use the neuroplasticity of the brain—that’s how the brain learns to make a habit—by drawing upon your  Procedural Memory and Episodic Memory to invest a skill with automaticity.
Procedural Memory is the process of retrieving information necessary to perform a learned skill which may be movement based, i.e., tying your shoesa shoe.
Episodic Memory involves the ability to learn, store, and retrieve information about one’s personal experiences that occur in daily life. This kind of memory usually includes information about the time and place of an event and detailed information about the event itself, i.e., your thoughts and feelings about the event.

(3) Frame the event you want to turn into a habit which is called Task Bracketing.

Every action you think about is deemed essential or negotiable by Task Bracketing so think through the steps needed to take a particular action to get from zero to actually doing it. 
This means you think about the event before you do it, while you’re doing it, and after you complete it and all of the good things that will come to you because of it.
Visualize it and all the steps necessary to go from sitting in front of the TV to going for a walk or working out with weights or whatever you want to make a daily habit.
(4) Thinking about accomplishment of something sets in motion the neurons necessary to do the action. 
So the first step is every day at the time you want the habit to occur, think about it. Visualize yourself doing it, how you will feel, what emotions will fill you as you undertake it and when you complete it. 
Break it down into steps. First, you set out the shoes and socks you’ll wear while working out. Second, you’ll dress in the right clothes for the activity. What’s the third step and the fourt, etc.? 
(5) After days of Task Bracketing, just do it.

It may not take you days, but it it does, so be it. Think about it. Go through the steps in your imagination, then do it. Put those shoes and active wear on and go for it. As you undertake the task, think about it. How do you feel? Do you have a sense of accomplishment for finally doing it? When you finish, is there a sense of satisfaction and achievement? Glory in that. Give yourself a gold start.
(6) After taking action, immediately set the stage to do the same for tomorrow.  (My idea!)
Set out your shoes, socks, work out clothes, and as you do so, recall that satisfying sense of accomplishment. Revel in it.
I hope I did justice to the information in the video about neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to learn. Let me know if you try these techniques. I know it worked for me so I hope it works for you too.

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Joan Reeves aka SlingWords: The Word Slinging Adventures of Joan Reeves


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