Mind Hacks 4 - Breaking Bad Habits
So far, we have discussed how our mental models work, the strategies based on how habits are formed, and a “know your enemy” article about how lazy our brains are. In this article, we are going to cover the most successful strategies for breaking bad habits, but we must start by recognizing that this process is never going to replace the chemical rush provided by bad habits. The goal instead is to become happier and reduce our pain, the pain caused by addiction to high-levels of dopamine. Returning again to Anna Lembke, Chief Psychiatrist at Stanford Addiction Medicine, in her book Dopamine Nation:
"Living in this modern age is very challenging. ... We're now having to cope with: How do I live in a world in which everything is provided? And if I consume too much of it — which my reflexes compel me to do — I'm going to be even more unhappy." Anna Lembke, MD.
The “reflexes” she refers to are our bad habits. We might think that the same techniques that form good habits might also be used in breaking our bad one. However, while forming good habits is best done in the smallest, easiest steps, it is more effective to break bad habits using more aggressively. While building good habits is like constructing a building, done carefully, ridding ourselves of bad habits is more like tearing down a building. Ka-boom!
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