How Habits Impact Your Quality of Life

From your sleep patterns to your choice of food, habits can greatly impact your quality of life. There are many different aspects of life that are drastically impacted by the habits we have unintentionally created. Both good and bad habits can impact your quality of life. In this presentation, I will discuss how habits impact your quality of life, and what you can do about it.

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A Brief Overview of Habits

A habit, in a simple form, is just a repetitive thought or behavior that is pretty much automated in nature; we may not even notice that we’re doing it.

What we consider to be habits are made up of three distinct parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward.

The cue is the stimulus that causes the habit’s behavior, the routine is the behavior of the habit, and the reward is the perceived benefit of the behavior. These three aspects are combined to form a habit.

Good Habits

Good habits are habits whose routine and the reward are both things that will benefit you. Sometimes rewards can be hard to observe because they are delayed, this is also known as latent rewards, but even delayed rewards can be categorized as beneficial or not beneficial.

Some examples of good habits are regularly drinking an appropriate amount of water every day, and regularly eating a balanced diet. These are some of the more obvious examples of good habits because the health benefits of both have been very carefully studied and the negative consequences of not doing them are noticeable. 

Some habits benefit you, but you may not be able to see any distinct reward right away. For instance, saving for retirement can be challenging especially as a young adult. There is no immediate reward for that, but down the line you will receive the reward of a greater amount of savings.

There are also habits that may seem to have beneficial rewards, but in reality, the negative long-term reward outweighs the short-term benefit. For example, smoking and vaping can seem to relieve stress in the short-term. However, the long-term negative health impacts distinctly outweigh the brief stress relief in the moment.

Bad Habits

Bad habits are habits whose either routine or reward brings about negative consequences. Some examples of bad habits include smoking and vaping, drinking alcohol or soda in excess, and not eating a healthy diet. Bad habits like these have more obvious negative consequences than other bad habits.

There are some ambiguous habits, too, but more often than not you will be able to categorize them properly.

What Can You Do About Your Habits?

First, examine your current habits!

You can engage friends to help point out the habits you have that you’ve become so accustomed to that you no longer even recognize. Maybe engage some family members to monitor your habits, or ask them if you had any habits at a younger age.

Next, you will want to replace your bad habits with good habits!

Whenever you catch yourself engaging in a bad habit, or a friend or family member points out a bad habit that you are engaging in, try to stop yourself and engage in a different beneficial activity. For instance, if you crack your knuckles when you get irritated, try putting your hands in your pockets instead. Over time, you will change the behavior of the habit completely.

Habits can be extremely powerful, but you have to use them to benefit you!

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