What are habits? Habits are pathways through our brain that we travel so much that we can do them automatically, sounds crazy right? Well, it is… But it’s true.
What are habits?
First, What are habits? Habits are paths down your neural pathways, pathways down your special cells in your brain called neurons, that you travel very often, so often in fact, that some habits occur automatically. The line or sequence that your brain goes through when executing a habit, is first, the cue. Something or someone, that reminds your brain of that certain path. Then comes the action, the actual habit itself. Finally, is the reward. The certain thing or action that your brain likes about this sequence of events. Institute Professor Ann Graybiel says, “We’ve always thought — and I still do — that the value of a habit is you don’t have to think about it. It frees up your brain to do other things,” This shows that habits are very powerful things, and that habits don’t always have to be bad things, they could be a good thing as well, such as waking up every morning to go exercise, or eating 5 fruits and vegetables every day. So powerful that even if you break bad habit it isn’t necessarily gone. It’s just overwritten by another pathway down your neurons. One article, MIT news, ‘How Our Brain Controls Our Habits’, talks about how they trained rats in a T shaped maze to go to the left, which would be the reward of a small piece of cheese, instead of the left which would have bad-tasting, but non-harmful chemicals. The rats are cued which side to run to. After the rats got into the routine of running to the left side and receiving a prize of cheese it started to become a habit. Even when the rats weren’t cued to go to that side, they still would. The scientists began to signal for the rats to go down the right pathway where there was a prize of cheese waiting for them. But because of the fact that the habit had been so deeply integrated in their neurons, the rats continued to move down the left path. They continued to do this until the scientists started to manually take them down the right path. This not only shows that habits are powerful, and amazing things, but also that they are stronger than we think they are. The habit had totally taken control of that movement and decision. Although we are more advanced in our neural pathways than rats are, the same thing could happen to us with habits. Without consciously thinking about it, you could be repeating the same good or bad habit, causing it to embedded in your neural pathways even more than they already are.