• In this article published in the Great Course Daily, we can read an extract from the lecture series: "Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You", taught by Professor Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D., where he explains the hugely importance of habits and how we could use some tools of cognitive neuroscience to help us break the bad ones. Something to be considered when confronting a behavioral change, and maybe some explanation why we do what we do.

  • All our habits are originally underpinned in what we call the Positive and Negative reinforcement. What is more commonly known as Trigger - Behavior - Reward, a simple formula that states by: Action + Reaction = Outcome. That's how we learn and establish habits. But the problem is that we forget that those early reactions are always based on a context dependent memory.


    Suddenly, we start assuming that what makes me feel good in one situation, might also work in a completely different one. So we tend to extrapolate the behaviors to get the same reward, but the trigger might be different from the original functional one.

    If initially we developed a functional habit, out of context, we might cross the line from learning to survive to kill ourselves with those habits.


    It's pretty clear that trying to control those "impulses" doesn't work, it even made them worse. We are trying to use cognition to control our behaviour. But the Pre-frontal cortex, the part of

    ...
  • Is not the first time that James Clear and his book Atomic Habits pops up here, maybe because it is one of the best books I've came across that better synthesizes the essence of establishing New Habits and the nature of Behaviour Change.

    One of the most important ideas of AH is that small and incremental changes can result in massive results. If you improve 1% everyday in anything for a full year, you end up 37 times better by the end.

    But I want to talk about something else today, something that is extremely important when adopting a new habit:  Progress doesn't happen overnight.

    As you know already, you don't simply work out for one month and see a huge body transformation. You may not even see anything at all, more than experiencing exhaustion and confusion. Discouraging, eh? Even frustrating! Despite the effort, the time, the commitment? What the hell is going on?

    The thing is that habits -the new ones that we are trying to establish- appear to make no

    ...
  • Resolutions are fuelled by the appealing idea of the "New Me". The illusion (or delusion) of getting rid of those things/ situations/ habits which I am not proud of, that bother me, that stop me from being who I want to become.

    But resolutions are problematic. The majority of us make them, and the vast majority fail. Besides the empiric proof that we concurrently backslide, we keep committing to them.

    Because the idea of the new me is extremely seductive.

    Looks like timing is important. Research shows us that resolutions are at its maximum success potential at turning points —moments that feel like a new beginning; a new week, a new day, new year. Those moments that feel like a new opportunity, a fresh start, push us to change our behavior because we are spread with a sense of optimism: "we take a rosier view of the future and tend to belittle uncertainty".

    But optimism isn't always constructive. If we’re too positive, we condemn ourselves to failure: "we overestimate our abilities, underestimate the time and effort

    ...
  • There is a mind blowing Ted Talk by Johann Hari, “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”, that if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, specially if you are willing to understand the deep root of addictions. In this article, "You Can Never Change Your Life Through Willpower. Here’s What Actually Works. The opposite of addiction is connection"Benjamin P. Hardy, also highlights the relationship between addiction and disconnection. But not only that, he goes one step further by stating that willpower doesn’t actually work. Because will power it’s focussed on the self, and addiction is all about context. So is all behavior. Some inspiring points below of his magnificent article.

 
 
 
 

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