FitttZee » Mind » What Are the Hidden Powers Influencing Habits?

What Are the Hidden Powers Influencing Habits?

Do hidden powers shape our ways, controlling habits in mysterious ways? Read on to discover the key to understand how they sway.

When we come to a turning point in our life with the desire to change, we arrive with a lifelong baggage of habits, that we’ve picked up along the way without ever noticing them.

The coffee we prefer, the way we make our cakes or the number of times we eat, are all seem to rest on unshakable pillars that define our existence.

Many of us aren’t in a lifestyle changing game, questioning fundamental principles of our previous life because we find some sort of morbid pleasure randomly rooting up everything for the sake of exploring the unknown, but because life has presented us with a choice.

We can either continue our life the same way that we’ve known with its inevitable consequences or grab the opportunity to take control of our life for something different, presumably better.

As we’ve seen from the previous articles, establishing habits or changing habits isn’t an impossible feat. With some planning, thoughtful implementation and a bit of fine tuning, it’s effectively manageable.

Unfortunately, due to the rather stubborn nature of instant gratification deprived habits, such as the ones we try to create for the sole reason of its perceived future benefits, conscientiousness is key for success.

As we’ve learned before, a new behavior to become automatic is 66 days, but it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days  for a new habit to form.

During such long period of time, our enthusiasm have plenty of opportunities to slack off the track and question the validity of our ideas upon we’ve based our future success.

What’s important to internalize mentally, is that failures in this process aren’t bad things we should avoid at all costs, but crucial opportunities to learn from. We have to watch closely our behavior to understand our actions because only once we understand them can improve upon them.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

― Thomas A. Edison

What will make our observations a tad bit complicated is that we aren’t lab rats living in a maze where our actions can be easily isolated and clearly associated to certain cues or rewards. We live in a world where myriad of factors influence our decisions at any given moment.

What are these hidden powers?

  1. Energy

Apparently, those who like to put on their trainers before the first rays of sunshine hits the pavements, do not just get the first worms but benefit the most from exercises too. It’s not because building muscles or burning fat is better in the morning (although, there are studies looking into that) but because the dopamine rush, we get from exercising, positively influences our mood for up to 6 hours after we finish working out. So, when we finish our jog at 6 o’clock, our brain still floats in dopamine at 12am keeping us on the bright side of life.

Sadly, not just the good things stick with us during the day but those annoying drivers who don’t know how to use a multi-lane highway, hogging the fast -AKA PASSING- lane or those who think cutting into the morning coffee line is OK. Such inconveniences negatively shape our day hours after the event without us even realizing what lies behind our crankiness.

So, it seems, that arranging our training session for the morning, boosts not just our metabolism, but our mood too, and we may understand now why we are craving for that 10’o clock stress relief cake with our second coffee for no apparent reason.

  1. Fatigue

Unfortunately, our mood influences more than just our snack choices or how snappy we are with our colleagues or kids. When grocery stores were experimenting with various ways to increase their profit margin, they have found that sad shoppers bought more product, especially high calorie comfort food.  The reason, we don’t hear Celine Dion making us cry day in and day out from the loudspeakers, is because the continuous exposure to sad music pushes the staff into depression.

Similarly, store studies concluded that we buy marginally more high calorie comfort food and snacks when we are tired.

Moreover, when after a long day, we arrive to grocery shopping brain dead , we aren’t really interested trying out new products from the shelves but tend to default on familiar ones. This is why companies invest so much into advertising their brands with blatantly simple messages on and on as frequently as their budget allows it. When we are tired, brand recognition is all that matters.

  1. Hunger

The amount of junk, we are able to pack up, is astonishing when our brain is left raging among the isles of a grocery store. When we’re hungry, our decisions are always skewed towards high calorie, refined foods and everything else seems a subpar choice.

When changing habits, it’s imperative to plan ahead and stick to the plan, be that a shopping list or our weekly meal plan.

  1. Accomplishment

We don’t have to be zoned out or starve to pack up with useless calories though. Many of us know the urge of rewarding ourselves after a heavy workout session, but few of us really acknowledge it under other circumstances.

Apparently, if we feel like we did something good for our health, such as exercising, eating healthy food or just simply buying some healthy stuff, we like patting ourselves on the back which can materialize into some tasty bites. Many grocery stores, that place their fresh produce right at entrance of the shop, know this too. Once we pack up on some presumably healthy stuff, like vegetables and fruits, we’ll more likely to throw in a bit of less healthy but tasty snack later on.

  1. Perspective

Our view of ourselves is heavily influenced by the world or more precisely the people around us. We tend to gravitate towards people that are similar to us and reject those who differ from us. It’s a basic survival instinct that was developed during thousands of years and helps people form communities and survive in the wilderness.
It’s hardwired into our unconscious mind to belong somewhere and comply with people’s expectations around us because for thousands of years being rejected from a tribe meant certain death.

The same behavior that created tribes still works today and we use them every time we have to deal with a group of people, like at school, a workplace or at parties. If we want to belong, we have to copy the customs, dress code and speak the lingo or face rejection.

So if we want to be like the cool kids, investment bankers or whatever else, we have to look like them, do like them and sound like them.

Our real problem now doesn’t lie getting into a group, faking it till making it, but rather getting out of it.

If we were born into a family where the members are overweight, exercise, regularly drink, eat healthy, smoke, binge watch series or travel, we’ll more likely to see such behavior as normal. Since people are looking for friendship among people who are similar to them, a family most likely to have similar friends further establishing the normality of such behavior, essentially creates a tribe. Which could be good if we happen to have a healthy eating, exercising and outgoing family.

If we happen to be born into an overweight family which members smoke and drink though, with overweight friends who do the same, we’ll subconsciously pick up environmental clues that suggest, being overweight, drinking and smoking is the norm.

If once we decide to slim down (let’s assume, we haven’t yet hooked on alcohol and smoking)  we don’t just go against the perceived norm, questioning the validity of our whole reality, beside the challenge of changing our diet and our established habits, but because of going against the customs may face the disapproval of our little tribe’s too.

As we’ve seen, there are countless experiments that study the intricacies of our mind and how saddle changes in our environment or in our mood, influence our decision making behaviour so there should come to no surprise that the words, that we say or were said to us, have profound effects on our actions too.

It’s all because of the brain doesn’t just rely on the habit-based energy saving mechanisms to dodge future threats but for other, more nuanced tasks, like remembering about past events or seeing the reality around us too.

  1. Manifestation

We are what we speak of. We define ourselves through the words we speak and people will know us through these statements. But the real power of words reach way beyond, just making a good impression on others. Words can literally create worlds.

We may think that our memories are recordings of the past like a video stream but in reality our memories are more like a comic book from the 60’s, simply because our brain doesn’t have the capacity to store every moment that happened to us in the past.

When we need to remember, our brain retrieves these bits of information then reconstructs the happenings of the past, according to how it makes sense right now and not necessarily how it happened.

This has some pretty dire real world consequences that can be exploited by those in the know. For example, witnesses at trials can tell completely different stories of the same actions based on how the questions were formulated to them. It’s not because they don’t want to tell the truth but simply this is how the brain operates, filling the missing gaps with information that makes sense based on our past experiences, beliefs, habits and hence prejudices.

If the question is asked by giving suggestive information, then it can get woven into the story naturally, easily changing even the skin color of the presumed attacker or victim, exploiting the same energy saving habit-mechanism that is being used by magicians and optical illusions.

Using positive thinking and words, that reflect such mindset, creates a forward looking world without imposed external limits that threaten our possibilities, where achieving success depends on our actions and choices.

How to work with habit influencing powers

While in theory, changing habits seems as simple as breaking the habit loop, factoring in the various environmental effects that affect our decision making processes, will be crucial for practical execution of changing habits and long term success. Tiredness, hunger levels, stress, our surroundings or even the words, we use will heavily influence our ability to make correct, long term decisions so making long term plans with the possibilities of adjustments will be essential tool during our journey of changing habits.