The Secret Mechanism Driving Your Life

2 min read.

 The Habit Loop

A group of researchers at MIT identified a pattern that all habits have in common. They called it the habit loop. The image above shows the habit loop in action. It’s made up of three parts. A cue, a routine, and a reward.
CUE:  Something that makes you want to do something.
ROUTINE:  Something that you repeatedly do in response to the cue.
REWARD: Something satisfying that you get from doing the routine.

The Habit Loop In Action

Imagine that each day at work, they bake free complimentary cookies. 

The smell of fresh-baked cookies makes your mouth water so you grab one and eat it.

After you eat the cookie, your brain gets the reward it was craving and you feel good.

In this example, the smell of fresh-baked cookies is the cue. Eating the cookie is the routine, and the reward is the sugar-high you get.

Each time you repeat this loop, the habit gets engrained deeper into your brain.

Why It Matters

We are a collection of our habits! 

To break your bad habits, you've got to understand how they work. 

What is the cue, the routine, and the reward of your bad habit(s)?

Once you know that, you can strategize ways to beat it. 

eg. Avoiding places that smell like warm fresh baked cookies.

You can also leverage the habit loop to create a new habit.

One of the best ways to do that is to purposefully reward yourself for good behavior, thereby reinforcing that action in the future.


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