Power of Habit, Update 2: A New Mindfulness


If you read my last post, you know that I recently began reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Well, I've read a little more since then, and it is powerful indeed. What is most interesting to me is, very soon after beginning this book, something began to change inside of me.

It was like a switch, or a sudden revelation. It was a call to be even more mindful of my behaviors because there is a chance that they could be habitual. Even though I have been practicing mindfulness regularly for the past six years, I still have many behaviors that are unconscious. And from my studies of hypnosis and now this book, I have a new window through which to view these behaviors.

This new perspective is almost like a bird's eye view of my unconscious mind. Approaching every moment of my actions with an air of skepticism — with the notion that what I am doing could be less choice and more habit than I consciously think — opens up so many more opportunities for decision. Kind of ironic, though it makes perfect sense to me. It is in being self-critical (in a kind way) that I can really be sure that I am doing my best to act consciously and mindfully in every moment... at least the ones that matter most!

Now, here's a juicy bit I've learned from my latest reading:

In order to create a new, strong habit, one that you actually want, such as exercising regularly or eating healthier foods, it is necessary that you establish a craving for the reward. Remember, the habit loop consists of the CUE, the ROUTINE, and the REWARD.

So let's say your goal is to get more fit, and you want to set the habit of working out every day. First you would set up a crystal clear cue: leaving your exercise clothes in a nice folded pile on your bed so you see them first thing you get home from work. Then, you would establish a rousing reward: enjoying a delicious and nutritious smoothie after your daily workout. And then you just follow through with the routine: going to the gym and exercising.

All that is great, but what is missing here is the craving. A craving is the feeling of anticipation of the reward that occurs as soon as you see the cue — before you even go through the routine. So then, to effectively establish the craving in this scenario, you would imagine how refreshing and delicious that smoothie will be after your workout, as soon as you see the cue of your exercise clothes. Now, the delectable experience of the smoothie can help to motivate you to push through your routine, even when you would rather melt into your sofa and watch Netflix (hey, that might even be a better reward than the smoothie for some people!).

I'll keep the knowledge coming, so stay tuned for more! And if you have any questions or comments, you can reply to this email. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and all that I explained above is very useful information for becoming more aware of the cravings you have developed unconsciously and unintentionally. When you are more aware of how craving arise in the moment, then you have more control over what actions you take next.


Devin Ryback