The power of habit

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

According to Charles Duhigg, in his book “The power of habit”, a habit consists of three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward. This could be: see a pack of cigarettes, smoke a cigarette, get the dopamine kick. In order to successfully get rid of that bad habit, we need to replace the routine with something else — meaning that we need to do something else in order to get that dopamine kick.

When reflecting on my own past, I noticed that I’ve done this for a few things unknowingly. With exercise.

I used to smoke, but when I started exercising more, specifically running, I quit that habit. Obviously, I wanted to quit even without the running, and I had attempted to do so many times(even quitting for one year at one point, but then relapsing), but hadn’t been able to. I enjoyed running, so I wanted to quit in order to have better lung capacity. I replaced the habit of smoking with running.

I didn’t have the best relationship with food up until ~26 years of age, and I ate a lot of bad stuff. Gaining weight. Not understanding food. When I started working out and started seeing some results, I started learning more about food. Eating better, eating right. I replaced the habit of eating bad food with working out.

I used to consume a lot of alcohol. I wouldn’t say I was an alcoholic, but it was a habit. Since I’ve started training for endurance events, and cutting down on alcohol significantly, I’ve had a few “a-ha” moments. In the past, when facing any issues, I would turn to alcohol. Nowadays, I put on my running shoes and go for a run. It was never an intentional replacement, it’s just the result of all the right choices I’ve made along the way. Knowing that running lets me be alone with my thoughts for a while and makes me feel good, as opposed to alcohol which gives me a hangover.

So even if the book “The power of habit” mainly focuses on replacing the actual habit, I think you can replace the habit by thinking about the big picture. Instead of replacing the habit of lighting a cigarette with chewing on a piece of gum (I’m not saying that this is what the book says, it’s just a simple example), focus on something else that ultimately might automatically make you eliminate the bad habit. In my case, it was running.



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Andreas Westerlund

Andreas Westerlund

Endurance athlete, digital nomad, nerd. Just a normal guy trying to figure out fitness, business, and life.