Habits are formed by the basil ganglia. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
The process of habit formation is a three step loop: First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So, unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.
Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded in to the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation. The problem is that you brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.
Habits are formed by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop
To overpower a habit, we must first consciously recognize which craving is driving the behavior.
If you want to start running each morning, its essential that you choose a simple cue (like always lacing up your shoes before breakfast or leaving your running shoes next to your bed) and a clear reward (a midday treat, a sense of accomplishment from recording your miles, or endorphins rush you get from a jog.)
Only when the brain begins to expect the reward—craving the endorphins or accomplishment—will it become automatic.
You can’t extinguish a bad habit; you can only change it. [golden rule of habit change]