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The Psychology of a Habit and How You Can Change Them

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Humans have an inability to change; this is an argument that has been discussed for centuries and it is largely because of our tendency to be creatures of habit. Think for a moment your daily routine, if you are like 98% of human beings, your morning habits are relatively the same without any true variations from year to year. The other two percent are the very successful minded people that change their habits constantly to maximize their success in life.

The reason that humans stick to their bad habits for so long is because of many reasons; comfortability, fear of failure and the strength of a habit over time. Research shows that the longer the habit has been in effect, the harder it is to change. However, my goal is to articulate that human’s have the ability to change and become adaptable to any and all change simply by replacing an old thought habits with new and better ones.

Moreover, my goal is to persuade that humans don’t actually have an inability to change but rather they are masters of change because they can control their habits.

Understanding habits and How they’re formed 

Before one can change a habit, they must first know what they are, and how they are formed. A habit by definitions is, “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance” (Merriam-Webster), moreover, a habit is formed simply by repetition.

Anything that you think and do over and over again becomes a habit and according to the University College London, it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to form. On paper this seems quite feasible, however, it is easier said than done because of our human nature to be comfortable. The human mind for over 500 plus years has repetitively been programed to think in black and white, meaning that we are taught to believe things are what they are instead of believing that they have the ability to adapt and change.

Because of this human bias, making new habits stick becomes challenging because the battle has to be won in the mind before it can be manifested to reality. Being aware of this human cognitive bias is crucial for creating the willpower necessary to change any habit you want; humans are not bounded to anything, yet because of thinking habits and our interpretation of them it often feels like we are.

“H is for Habit, winners make a habit of doing the things losers don’t want to do.” – Lucas Remmerswaal

Habits Are Consciously Started, And Subconsciously Finished 

The other conflict that gets in the way of creating new and better habits is the inability to consciously notices habits. Majority of people’s core beliefs and ideologies of the self were developed at a young age, before even having the ability to subjectively pick and choose what they wanted to believe, and also how to properly interpret the situation that occurred.

This is where memory plays an interesting role, our memory is often distorted based on the current mindset we have, meaning an event that once had no significance when it occurred, in a new context or mindset can have a purpose.

Thought habits that developed in adolescence, unless replaced with a better habit, probably still have an unconscious impact. How one can go about changing their thought process is by simply auto suggesting a thought of desire and training it like a habit, consciously sending positive thoughts to the subconscious mind.

An autosuggestion is a conscious thought sent to the unconscious mind. Because thoughts are impulses and have a vibration of frequency, doing this over and over again can create a new habit of thinking; the same way a habit is formed on a surface level it can also be formed on a chemical level as well. Knowing this is fundamental in fighting through the uncomfortable part of change.

Habits Are Not Changed, Only Replaced 

Additionally, in order to adapt to change quickly it is immensely important to know that old habits do not disappear, however, they are instead replaced by better ones. Habits cannot be easily replaced; the body and mind naturally know this and will at first resist.

It is believed that a lot of humans bad habits are caused by stress and boredom and these two elements directly affect the body and mind and its resistance to new habits. Because of this natural resistance, it has been assumed by the 98% of people that think that change doesn’t last leading them to resist it at all costs.

Giving these points, it is easy to see the challenges of replacing old habits and the reluctance of people to resist change, however, it is also clear that training new habits requires a time-tested method for adapting and creating all change. Human’s don’t have an inability to change and fascinatingly enough when aware of this, humans have a tendency to embrace change because they understand the process of creating change.

“The Habits that took years to build, do not take a day to change.” – Susan Powter

Change is a matter of patience, willpower and consistency practiced consciously for roughly 66 days, long enough for a habit itself to take over involuntary. This is important for humans to understand because the only difference between them and the person they are inspired to be are the habits they need to change.

What tips would you give someone to help them change a habit? Please leave your thoughts below!

Kyle Colley is a Junior Political Science major from Denver, Colorado who attends Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a freelance writer with the passion of inspiring people to manifest their passions and become multicultural. In 2016, Kyle became a co-founder of Read More Co. a forward-thinking company that uses fashion and books to promote the importance of reading. Read More Co. believes that reading intentionally with a goal in mind will lead its followers to success and happiness in any endeavor in their lives. You can find him on Facebook (Kyle Colley) or on Instagram.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Molls

    Mar 14, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Fantastic article on habits – it takes courage to make the first step towards change but when you do, and keep up with it, its all worth it. 🙂

  2. Joel

    Feb 3, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Kyle,

    As you mentioned, habits are not easily changed. In fact, according to Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) there is only a single portion of the habit cycle that can be changed.

    The parts of the cycle, or loop as he refers to it as are, the Cue, Routine, and Reward.

    You cannot change the Cue (what you see, hear, smell, taste, etc) or the reward (the feeling that you get when you finish the habit) but you can change the routine. As an example, if you’re like me and you crave coffee only when you pass a Starbucks (the cue), instead of going in for a coffee, take a sip of water that has been brought with you (routine), and the reward will be the same (fulfillment/thirst quench).

    While I personally think that there is more to habits than his basic principle, for the most part, it is a great beginning point.

    Loved the article as habits are one of my fascinations.

    Joel

    • Kyle Colley

      Feb 13, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks, Joel, and same I enjoy learning and studying habits. I know the book you are referring to and I enjoyed it. I think the best habit research I have enjoyed is Napoleon Hill’s laws of cosmic Habit Force. He talks about hypnotic rhythms (the loops) and all that so it’s really informative.

  3. Gbeminiyi

    Jan 28, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    What a hard thing to change. Well, I think it’s all about mindset, most had already accepted that they can’t do better than what they are right now and no matter what they do, the result is always gonna be the same. So I will say, change your mindset change your habits.

    thanks so much for this Kyle, thumbs up!

  4. Kyle Colley

    Jan 3, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Thank you, Ewen! Glad I could be another catalyst for people’s successes!

  5. Ricardo Mirville

    Jan 2, 2017 at 2:12 am

    Great article Kyle..
    This post is very important because habits are what make futures.
    And programming the subconscious mind is the first step into doing so!

    #RepititionIsKey!

    • Kyle Colley

      Jan 3, 2017 at 6:39 am

      Thank you, Ricardo! And you are absolutely right! Humans are hard-wired to be negatived minded, however, if you train the subconscious mind you will begin to see the positive in every setback.

  6. Jaskaran Sanghara

    Dec 27, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Great article! I find habits a very challenging thing to change, I mean to change my mindset to what it was 5 years ago was a real challenge, I’m glad I read this article as it reconfirmed my beliefs

    • Kyle Colley

      Jan 3, 2017 at 6:43 am

      Thank you, Jaskaran. You definitely aren’t the only one who finds habits hard to change! (Myself included) however, just knowing that habits are broken by willpower and subconscious programming is groundbreaking for most people that are unaware of this stuff. Glad I could reconnect some beliefs for you!

  7. Ewen Munro

    Dec 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Great summary, Kyle! Really got to the heart of so many people’s dilemmas. Awesome stuff! 😉 #keepgrowing #keepcreating

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Life

8 Things You Can Do to Rise Above Failure and Attain Success

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Highly successful people have tasted failure more than success. Whether its Nikola Tesla or Michael Jordan, everyone had his/her fair share of failures before rising to the pinnacle of success. Yet, most people I know are averse to the idea of failure.

When ambition fuels your desires, you become so conscious about avoiding failure that you forget to learn how to cope with it when you actually experience it. So, when you come face-to-face with adversity, it often overwhelms you.

This brings us to the question, how can you train yourself to overcome these difficulties and use them to your advantage? Here’s how:

1. Acceptance is important to overcome failure

When the going gets tough, one of the most frustrating things you may get to hear is “stay positive.” The idea of positive thinking has been misconstrued, misused, and abused continuously. Contrary to popular belief, positive thinking has nothing to do with smiling and being happy with everything that happens to you all the time. Anyone who preaches that is either lying or crazy.

Use positive thinking to learn, grow, and evolve from the experiences we gather in life. Positive thinking simply means that if you are faced with a setback, you work hard to overcome the challenges. When you experience hardships, it is alright to feel upset and disappointed. Our objective, however, is not to stay down.

2. Be honest with yourself

The most crucial part of dealing with a failure involves pausing for a couple of minutes and pondering over what happened. You need to be completely honest with yourself on why it happened.

It is easy to pull out the Smartphone, turn on the laptop or find other forms of distraction. Most people would do anything to distract themselves and keep their eyes shut to the mistakes they have made.

However, if you don’t confront, you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, then you are setting yourself up for failure again. Albert Einstein famously stated that it was insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. If you don’t derive a lesson out of mistakes and failures in life, then you are doomed to keep repeating them, whether you realise it or not.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

3. Don’t beat yourself up over a temporary setback

When you have experienced a setback, many of you may succumb to the feeling that you’ll always keep failing. It is easy to convince yourself that you are indeed a failure. Don’t let such destructive ideas or thoughts creep into your head. Instead, keep reminding yourself that just because you failed today, it doesn’t mean you’d fail the next time as well.

It is also important that you treat your failure as a passing phase. When you keep moving forward, focus on the right things, and keep learning. Perceiving the setback as a temporary phase rather than something permanent is vital to developing an optimistic attitude in life.

4. Focus on nurturing and improving yourself

Failures don’t discriminate, and it comes to everyone at some point. The trick lies in learning to deal with it and what you do about it that makes all the difference. In many cases, failure happens because a person wasn’t prepared, didn’t invest time on planning or was ill-equipped. It can also be because Lady Luck decided not to shower her favours.

Except for the last one, the rest of the issues can be fixed. Prepare a list of all the things that you think resulted in your failure. Start working on them one at a time. Do everything in your capacity to rectify, improve, resolve, and develop.

5. Find inspiration and support in abundance

Interacting with someone close can be more helpful than you think. You can also learn from people who have been through similar situations and have achieved what you hope to. Gain insights on how they managed to sail through the setbacks or low-points before and during the moment of success.

Or you can gain the motivation or enthusiasm by listening to someone else from an audiobook or podcast for maybe 30-60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be focused on your current setbacks.  Change your mood and mindset back towards optimism again.

6. Adopt a constructive approach and learn from the adverse situation

Consider it as valuable feedback and take home something you can implement in the process of overcoming your failure. The following are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What is the lesson for me?
  • How can I rectify myself to avoid making the same mistake and do better next time?
  • What can I do to enjoy guaranteed success?

You don’t need to rush through the process. Some of the answers may be immediate, while others might take an hour, a day or even a week to pop up. The significant thing is to start thinking about the situation from this perspective. Also, you need to be constructive about things rather than getting stuck with denial, negativity and apathy.

7. Stop mulling over and move on

Processing the situation and accepting it is the ideal way to deal with failures. Any individual who has experienced failures will know that it is quite easy to stay stuck in the loop of similar thoughts. In fact, this may go around and around for weeks or even months.

Now, in order to be free from this trap, the one habit that might help you is the set of questions like the ones shared above. You can also create a rough plan for how you wish to move forward from here. So, take some time to sit down and write them down.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

8. Purge out all the negativity

Another impactful way to handle the emotional meltdown and the thoughts that emerge from experiencing failure is to purge out all the negativity. In order to let everything out, you need to confide in someone close to you. There are two ways to go about it: Engaging in a conversation with someone will allow you to see it from a different perspective. The person you talk to can assist you in grounding yourself in reality again and motivate you to look for a way forward.

Or you can simply vent about it while the other person who is listening can sort things out for you. He/she can help you accept what happened and boost your spirit by instilling a sense of hope.

The significant thing to remember is that while you can’t stop obstacles from appearing in life, you can devise smart ways to handle them. If you persevere, you can easily discover opportunities that have been waiting for you on the other side. Now, as you become more efficient at dealing with the failures, you will allow yourself to see the positive side in even the toughest of scenarios.

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How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?” (more…)

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Life

The Truth About the Law of Attraction

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When we want something, we generally imagine the form it will take when it manifests. If we’re not careful, however, we can find ourselves attached more to the imagined form than the actual desired outcome. This is like placing an online order and expecting it to come in a blue box shipped by UPS. If we then receive a red box delivered by FedEx, we might not realize that it’s what we ordered, and never even open it!

For example, most of us say that we want money, but when money comes in the form of a free coffee or a gift or a discount, we don’t see it for what it is. We overlook it, and maybe we even say “No, thanks” and decline the gift which is, in one way or another, still money. In doing so, we fail to appreciate the value of the discount, the gift, or the freebie. If it isn’t cash being handed to us, we don’t see it as a manifestation of our desire.

The law of attraction is a funny thing.

It is much more complex and much more intricate than what it seems to be and yet, at the same time, it’s so very simple: We always get what we want. We always receive more of the energy at which we vibrate. Always.

However, if we’re acting from the energy of “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t think I’m worthy,” then whatever it is that we receive will be negated and essentially unseen. On the other hand, if we are open, observant, and maintaining an abundance mindset, we will receive our request on numerous levels and from plentiful sources!

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

This is because we “place our order” not only through our words, but through our actions, our beliefs, and our thoughts.

Last month, I was open to receiving a new client. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I’d set my intention: I was going to get a new client. That night, out of nowhere, I got a message from an old student of mine. She was looking to hire me again as her coach for the upcoming college entrance exams in the U.S. But wait! I didn’t want an entrance exam client.

What I actually wanted was to get life and business coaching clients. This student was my “red box from Fed Ex.” I wanted to decline at first, but as I was about to reply, something made me stop. I asked myself, “Why am I rejecting this?”

This student is an amazing client. She pays on time. She’s not needy. She does her part. Best of all? She doesn’t short-change me. So I said yes, because I realized that the Universe was simply responding to the essence of my desire.

You see, my “Big Why” in everything I do has always been to facilitate an accelerated personal and business growth for my clients, and this student fit the bill in every way. She wanted the personal growth, she was ready to go all in and she reached out to me.

It didn’t look like the package I was expecting so I didn’t recognize it at first—and I nearly turned it away—but she was the perfect answer to my request.

Serving people like her has always been a driving force in my life.

The Universe knows that. It also knew that I wanted a client asap so that I could re-invest the money into my business, so it responded in the most ideal way… but in an unexpected form. And I came so close to missing it!

How many times have I missed other opportunities like this? How many times have I dismissed a “red box” because it wasn’t “blue?” I’ll never know. But I do know that, had I not stopped myself from sending a “No, thanks,” I would have felt as though the Universe wasn’t listening.

That’s the thing: the Universe is always listening.

The more open we are in receiving, the more we thrive. The more open our energy is, the greater the possibilities. Don’t just return that red box to the post office and keep waiting on a blue one. Ask yourself, first and foremost, if what you’re receiving at the moment matches up with your underlying desire.

See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it.” – Rhonda Byrne

The key is to be willing to receive anything and everything. How? Keep on reading1

1. Get clear on your “underlying desire.”

Identify exactly what it is that you really want—in my case, it was an ideal client (underlying) as opposed to a coaching client (surface)—and focus on that. Clear out all the mental noise and static that clouds your awareness.

2. Be flexible

Keep your eyes and mind open for anything that fits the description. When you ask for money, recognize that free coffee for what it is: $3 you were going to spend anyway, that can now remain in your pocket. Every penny on the ground, every coupon, it’s all money.

3. Keep an attitude of gratitude.

The more you appreciate what you have, the more that comes your way. Your grateful mindset opens the energetic door for more to flow your way, because “where attention goes, energy flows.” The more you focus on the things you want, the more you will draw them into your experience.

Remember, that the Universe responds to our requests in whatever way fits best within the big picture.

It’s a picture so big that we couldn’t possibly begin to see how it comes together. Trust it. Know that when you ask, you will receive. It may not come in the form you anticipate, but always in a form that responds to your underlying desire. You just have to be ready to see it.

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Life

7 Simple Ways to Master Your Emotions When Making Decisions

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A lot of people have big regrets when lying on their deathbed. These regrets are often related to bad decisions or decisions not taken. Thus, as it turns out, decision-making is dependent on great self-confidence. A person who has confidence in their decisions has an easier time making them.

Emotions also play a big role in all of this. This is a debate that has confronted two great thinkers. According to Descartes, “decisions are the product of the rational mind.” In other words, decision-making is essentially based on facts and mathematics.

But this thesis was refuted and proven to be wrong by Antonio Damasio in one of his works called “The Error of Descartes”. This was partly based on the story of Elliott, a kid that was very smart, who had above average rational capabilities, but incapable of making a decision, after a surgery to remove a brain tumor on the surface of his frontal lobes. After all his work in that matter, he concludes that a person who is incapable of emotion is incapable of making the most rational decisions.

The management of emotions is therefore completely inherent to good decision making, especially when making the most important decisions. To this end, here are 7 tips to put into practice to really master your emotions thus making the best decisions possible and never regreting them.

1. Take a step back

You must learn to take the time to identify and understand your emotions. Since physical reactions are emotionally related, also take the time to detect the reactions you have to some of your emotions. To be able to take the distance necessary to make decisions, it’s important to refer to your prefrontal cortex. This is the area of ​​the brain responsible for reasoning. To do so you need to put yourself in a stress-free environment for a few minutes.

“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent and committed decision.” – Tony Robbins

2. Breathe

The best way to do this is to learn to breathe deeply. This will allow activating your prefrontal cortex again, therefore, to have better control of your emotions so you do not react to them, let alone to the event that causes these emotions. Do this exercise for at least 15 minutes. It’s amazing how you can train yourself never to react, no matter what the situation. Ideally, let at least 24 hours go by before responding to a situation that would normally cause tension.

3. Pay attention

Once you are in the prefrontal cortex, put one hand on your abdomen, at the level of your intestines, and the other hand on your heart, and take the time to listen. These two parts of the body are the two major centers of vibrations and emotions. This is why it’s important to listen and pay attention to them.

The purpose of this exercise is to become aware of your gut and heart. What you need to remember is that the only person you need to trust is yourself. By practicing this exercise, one thing will become very clear: what the emotion you feel seeks to convey to you about the decision you have to make.

Since everything is energy, first make sure that the vibration of the decision you are about to make and that of your heart and gut are in sync. You will then know whether to go ahead with your decision or reject it based on whether you feel serenity or heaviness.

4. Discern untruths

It is important to know whether your nervousness is the result of an untruth you’ve told yourself. These can corrupt the vibrations that should help you make the right decision. You have to throw out all of these untruths and come to the decision-making without any filter. Stop thinking that you’re unlucky, that you’re in a bad situation, that your life is a failure, or that you are a victim.

5. Become aware of your emotions instead of avoiding them

To become aware of your emotions, you must learn to coach yourself. Ask yourself questions: How did you feel the last time you had to ask these types of questions? What did you get in return? Rename what you felt and the result you obtained from what you decided to do. You will thus be much better at assimilating, understanding, and welcoming your emotions.

6. Be as present as possible

There is no point in focusing on the big events surrounding the decision you want to make. Concentrate instead on the present moment, without analyzing the events. Judge based on emotions rather than the event. By being more present, you will be better able to listen to your emotions and feel them.

Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John C. Maxwell

7. Make your emotions your allies

Each of your emotions speaks to you through the physical and physiological reactions that they generate in you. Look to the weight of their impact on you as an indicator. Only by listening to them, using them, and managing them can you manage your emotions.

Habit comes with practice. With time, these 7 points will become much more natural and will become automatic. You will make better decisions for yourself.  This is one of the best ways to not end up with one of the big regrets.

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