The Science of Habit: Popular Habits vs. Popular Addictions [Infographic]
Fifty percent of your everyday life is habitual. It’s not something that we like to think about, but it’s true: about half of the time that we spend awake, we are on autopilot, mindlessly reiterating the same actions and the same thoughts in the same context. There is a defined pattern that we follow when forming these habits. It starts with a cue; at noon your stomach growls. Then you mindlessly follow through with your routine; you walk to the cafeteria, you buy a cookie. Our habits offer a reward, which is why they’re so difficult to break; you bite into that sugary cookie, and it’s delicious. But what if you want to break that bad habit? If you are in control, it is possible to break out of this loop.
If you are unsuccessful at breaking this loop, sometimes that bad habit can cross the boundary into becoming an addiction. There are five steps to forming an addiction. First, the behavior is simply recreational; then you perform it within moderation; then it becomes habitual (you’re stuck in the loop); then it becomes compulsory; then addictive. To prevent a habit from developing into an addiction, first figure out why you do it. Then, write it down and analyze what triggers the habit. Finally, find a new way to respond to the trigger, and replace the addictive behavior with something healthier.
Although habits and addictions are complicated, we’ve tried to break them down in this infographic. Check it out to see some of the most common habits and addictions, learn the average number of days it takes to form a habit, and see how you can learn to identify and break your bad habits.
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