Science Tells You How Long It Takes to Break a Habit

Habits arise through a process of triggering, actions, and rewards.[1] A circumstance triggers an action. When you get a reward from the action, you continue to do that.

If you aren’t intentional about actions and rewards, you’ll develop bad habits. These lead to self-sabotage, failure, and poor health. On the other hand, good habits enable health, happiness, and dream-fulfillment.

So how long does it take to break a habit? Some say 21 days, some say approximately a month. What is the real answer?

How long it takes to break a habit

There’s no magic number of repetitions that’ll get you to internalize the habits you want. Researchers have proposed several different ways of understanding habit formation.

The 21-day rule (or myth)

One of the earliest and most popular pieces of literature on the subject is Psycho-Cybernetics (1960) by Maxwell Maltz. Dr. Maltz who was a plastic surgeon wanted to understand how people viewed themselves. In particular, he was curious about how long it took for patients to get used to changes he made during surgery.

Based on observing his patients and reflecting on his own habits, he determined that it took at least 21 days for people to adjust. He used this information as the basis for many “prescriptions” in his self-help oriented Psycho-Cybernetics.[2]

Since then, self-help gurus have latched onto the idea of taking 21-days to change habits. People began to forget that he said ‘a minimum of about 21 days’ instead of ‘it takes 21 days to form a new habit.’

Give yourself a month?

Another popular belief in self-help culture states that habits take 28 to 30 days to form.

One proponent of this rule, Jon Rhodes, suggests:[3]

“You must live consciously for 4 weeks, deliberately focusing on the changes that you wish to make. After the 4 weeks are up, only a little effort should be needed to sustain it.”

This was a generally agreed-upon figure, but the 21-day rule popularized by readers of Maltz was more appealing to many people because it was easy to understand, and it was faster than the general 28-30 rule.

The time-frame for changing habits varies

While the 21 and 28-day rules appeal to our desire to change quickly, a 2009 study from University College London suggests that the window for change can be much wider. The research, published in The European Journal of Social Psychology, followed habit-formation in 96 people over a 12-week period.

The UCL study looked at automaticity, which is how quickly people engaged in the actions they wanted to turn into habits. Researchers explained:[4]

As behaviours are repeated in consistent settings they then begin to proceed more efficiently and with less thought as control of the behaviour transfers to cues in the environment that activate an automatic response: a habit.

The amount of time that it took for actions to become habits varied. Participants anywhere between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. The average number of days needed to achieve automaticity was 76 days.

Make habits to break habits

Understanding the connection between forming new habits and getting rid of old ones makes the process easier.

Dr. Elliot Berkman, Director, Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, states:[5]

“It’s easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something habitual without a replacement behavior.”

Quitting something cold-turkey is tough because you’ve wired yourself to want to do it. For example, quitting smoking is challenging beyond a physical nicotine addiction. The ritual of how a person prepares to smoke is another aspect that makes it hard to quit. In order to do away with this bad habit, the person needs to find something to fill the void left by the smoking ritual.

Look beyond time

There’s such a wide range in the amount of time it can take for someone to turn an action into a habit. That’s because time isn’t the only factor you have to think about when you’re forming new habits. Dr. Thomas Plante, Director, Spirituality & Health Institute, Psychology Department, Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine explains:

“One important issue is how strongly do you really want to break the habit in question. Second, how established is the problem habit? It is easier to break a new habit than an old one. Third, what are the consequences of not breaking the habit?”

It’s one thing to make a generic goal to exercise more, but if you thoroughly enjoy being a couch potato, it’s going to be harder to get into the exercise habit. If you’ve had a bad habit for a long time, it’s much harder to ditch it because you’ve had more repetitions of that behavior.

If exercising more won’t do much to change your life, you might find it tough to be active. On the other hand, if your doctor tells you that you won’t live to see your child’s 18th birthday unless you start moving, you have more incentive to change.

Plante also notes that people who tend to be obsessive and those who struggle with addiction may have a harder time breaking habits than the average person.

Set aside time to change

The most powerful changes don’t happen overnight, and they probably won’t happen in 21 days. Set aside at least two months to change, but understand that altering habits is different for everyone. If you’ve had the habit for a long time, or you have to break an addiction or obsession, you may need more time.

We all make changes at different speeds based on lots of variables. The intention behind your actions, your ability to interrupt negative patterns, and the possible consequences of changing (or not changing) can also affect the time it takes adjust your habits.

Regardless of how long it takes, tackling bad habits and replacing them with good ones is essential for you to live your best life. Bad habits can keep you from achieving your full potential. They can make you sick, unproductive, and unhappy. The worst habits can even cost you your relationships and your life. Good habits set you up for success all-around.

Your health and wellness, your ability to connect with others, and your ability to live out your dreams start with good habits. If you’re ready to make changes, learn more about breaking bad habits by checking out How to Program Your Mind to Kick the Bad Habit

Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

Reference

[1] Habits for Wellbeing: What is a habit, how do they work, and how can I change them?
[2] Maxwell Maltz: The New Psycho Cybernetics
[3] Selfgrowth.com: Change a habit in 28 days
[4] European Journal of Social Psychology: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
[5] Hopes and Fears: How long does it really take to break a habit?

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This is Where You Can Connect With All Top Recruiters

There is nothing more stressful in your life if you are like the many who are looking for a job. The current job availability in many areas in the US are very slim, so this can make it very difficult to find the right job depending on the type of job you are looking too. Anything that can be used to make finding your next job will help to alleviate the immense pressure and stress you are feeling.

If you are having a bit of trouble finding the right job for you and getting more and more stressed out, you may definitely need a little helping hand. If you have an Apple mobile device like an iPhone or iPad, you could use the ZipRecruiter App to help you find listings of available jobs in your area.

You Don’t Have to Look Around Anymore

ZipRecruiter is the mobile version of the powerful job search service used by many of top employers and individuals looking for a new job. The app is filled with extremely useful tools for searching for a job opening, submitting resumes and applying for jobs. The app brings all of the benefits of the well-known job recruiting service to your fingertips. By downloading it to your Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone and the iPad so you can be sure to get your notifications quickly.

Job Search Has Never Been That Easy

Helps you to search hundreds of the top job boards – Use the app to search 100+ job boards which are used by the majority of the largest employers to post their open positions.

Receive notifications if there are jobs matching your wants – After you set up your account and profile which includes specifics about the types of jobs that you are looking for.

Send a resume and apply through the app – The powerful job search app makes it possible to apply for a position and either upload a resume or even import one directly from LinkedIn.

Get notification of your resume is read – After you submit your resume for consideration for a job you will receive a notification if at any time your resume is read by the prospective employer.

Open Yourself To More Opportunities 

At any given time of the day, there are tens of thousands of positions opening up at companies all across the country and these available jobs are frequently posted on job boards so that people can find them. The ZipRecruiter App was designed to help reduce the stress associated with finding a job by simplifying the job search process by using your Apple mobile device.

The ZipRecruiter App makes searching the job boards a much easier process, notifies you why any jobs fit your criteria that you established when you set up your account. You can also apply for a job and upload a resume or send it directly from your LinkedIn account.

If you are in the market for a new job and are getting stressed out because you are not having any luck, check out the  ZipRecruiter App here.

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How to Emulate Life’s Genius: Introducing Biomimicry

Have you ever noticed the most effective and efficient human creations are modeled from nature? From buildings designed like termite mounds to self-healing buildings developed using bacteria in the concrete; biomimicry is phenomenal approach to solve problems in a sustainable way.

Biomimicry (also known as Biomimetics) was coined by Otto Schmidt in the 1950s and describes the transfer of ideas and analogues from biology to technology. [1] It is the imitation of models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Biomimetics and biomimicry derive from Ancient Greece: bios (life) and mimesis (mimetics) is imitation or to imitate.

Using nature to solve problems

Nature has already solved our problems for us. It is up to us to discover how. Nature is a fascinating source of inspiration. It demonstrates how every organism is unique and how it is able to adapt to its own environment. [2]

“Nature is imaginative by necessity and has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with today.” – Janine Benyus

Nature is able to respond to its own needs and find solutions that work. In doing so, nature evolves and lasts through countless generations. Furthermore, biomimicry can be applied to completely transform the way we operate, conduct business, and even communicate. Let’s take a look at how biomimicry can be applied on three levels: [3]

  1. The natural form of organisms are used for inspiration. For example, mimicking the structure of a seashell leading to stronger buildings.
  2. Natural process leading to more sustainable materials. For example, mimicking chemical processes such as photosynthesis.
  3. The ecosystem. For example, mimicking the functional principles of an ecosystem.

Run an organization like a redwood forest

Jay Harman writes in his book The Shark’s Paintbrush, that a business should be run like a redwood forest. Harman informs us that a mature forest is a fully self-sustaining producer of diversity and abundance. He says that,

“Many businesses function more like an invasive weed, where their strategy is to spread rapidly into an area, lay down shallow roots, and use more than their share of local resources.”

Essentially, we overwhelm and destroy our habitat. In her book Biomimicry, Janine Benyus outlines how we should run our company like that of a redwood forest. In the image below, I have outlined her thought process for running an organization like a redwood forest.

Benyus describes ten key ways to operate like a forest in order to create conditions conducive to further life.

  1. Use waste as a resource.
  2. Diversify and cooperate with other species to fully use the habitat.
  3. Gather and use energy efficiently.
  4. Optimize rather than maximize.
  5. Use materials sparingly.
  6. Don’t foul your nest.
  7. Draw up instead of down on resources.
  8. Remain in balance with the biosphere.
  9. Run on information.
  10. Shop locally.

Examples of biomimicry

Let’s take a brief look at some examples of biomimicry in action.

Gecko tape

The bullet train

Cement like corals

Passive cooling in buildings

Self-healing buildings

Harvesting fresh Water

A paradigm shift in how we think

Biomimicry offers us a unique way to see and solve problems. For example, by examining a forest, we find that a forest is actively communicating.

“Biomimicry is basically taking a design challenge and then finding an ecosystem that’s already solved that challenge, and literally trying to emulate what you learn.” – Janine Benyus

Similar to how the internet operates, fungal connectivity is taking place between plants. Yet, like the internet, it is also susceptible to cyber-crime, terrorism, and even warfare. [4]

So, why not examine cyber-crime by examining the threats of fungal connectivity? How could we do this? By using biomimicry as a problem-solving methodology. Let’s take a look at how this could be accomplished.

Biological strategies and inspired ideas

AskNature.org is a powerful and free resource to use to explore biomimicry. It offers a way to find biological strategies, inspiring ideas, and resources to problems using nature.

For example, let’s say we want to find solutions to cyber security. By simply typing “cyber security” we are presented with unique strategies using nature to solve the problem (see image below). One such strategy is to look at how glands in Sea Hares secrete two compounds protecting the organism from predators by reacting together to create an unpalatable mixture of hydrogen peroxide and organic chemicals. Let’s take a quick look at how this could work with cyber security.

Step #1: Clearly define the challenge we are trying to solve

Improve cyber security vulnerabilities.

Step #2: Search for biological analogies and/or metaphors

Step #3: Determine whether the problem is related to form, function, or ecosystem

Form follows function (hence, form always comes before function). Think of form as the design of a building, where function is how we use the building.

Step #4: Ask what plant, Animal, or Natural Process solves a similar problem most effectively

Using AskNature.org I was able to find the following potential solution: Sea Hare or Sea Snail.

Step #5: Map-out the biological model

Step #6: Design a solution

Using an abstract len, we could potentially use the sticky ink secretion of a Sea Hare as a cyber security protection concept that sticks to dangerous cyber intrusion and completely prevents it from infecting the network/system/device.

When we look to nature for solutions to contemporary problems, we find that biomimicry provides us a fascinating and unique way to truly improve everything around us. It offers us an opportunity to redesign everything in existence. In essence, biomimicry brings about answers because it forces us to ask the right questions.

Reference

[1] Julian Vincent, Olga Bogatyreva, Nikolaj Bogatyrev, Adrian Bowyer, Anja-Karina Pahl: Biomimetics its practice and theory
[2] Rasha Mahmoud Ali El-Zeiny: Biomimicry as a Problem Solving Methodology in Interior Architecture
[3] SlideShare: Biomimicry Civil Engineering Applications
[4] Timewheel.net: Plants communicate using an internet of fungus

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What Too Much Salt Actually Does To Your Body

Food is one of the major things that cuts across cultures, languages and people and this is so majorly because we need to satisfy the pangs of hunger any time they come calling. The most important sense organ when it comes to food is the sense of taste which is controlled by the tongue. Beyond this sense of taste, the food only completes the task of filling our stomach and nourishing our body. Although most food items come with their natural salt, we most times need to add salt so that these food can taste better.

What we used to believe about too much salt intake 

Humans are wired differently and this difference applies to our sense organs too. While a person’s taste buds may be highly sensitive, the next person’s taste buds might be less sensitive and because of this disparities mostly, the level of salt intake varies for most of us. With several research carried out on the subject, we have been told that high level of salt content in food has negative effects especially because it heightens the risks of high blood pressure, liver and kidney diseases. Adhering to this directives will mean that we eat less salty food and sometimes food lacking in salt. Any price to pay for healthy living right?

The latest findings about salty food 

Acclaimed Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel lays the premises for her claims in this article. She announced that salty foods can actually make one hungrier and also burn calories as implied by a new study. The study according to Reinagel was conducted on a small group of Russian cosmonauts who were being prepared for a space exhibition. She explained that researchers regularly tweaked the amount of salt in their food with ranges between 2300-4800 mg of sodium daily, but maintained the calorie levels. What the researchers noticed was however contrary to the perceived notion about too much salt intake. They found that with an increase in salt, the cosmonauts became hungrier. Reinagel also detailed a counter experiment performed on mice and she explained that in both man and mice, an increase in the amount of salt in food resulted to an increase in urine output even with less water intake owing to the fact that their bodies got rid of the excess salt through urine.

Helping the body’s defence 

This research shows that the body is its own strongest defender. The defence mechanism in the body works but relies on the healthy habits we cultivate to keep it working. Therefore, it is not about whether research has shown that too much salt intake does no harm to the body or otherwise, we need to apply moderation to whatever we do especially as it concerns what we eat. The body’s defence system may be strong but much harm can be done before the body kicks out the unnecessary things.

Essentially, this is not a charge for you to know what too much salt does to the body but to live with moderation. Anything done in excess usually has an unpleasant repercussion, so take heed.

To read the full article, click here.

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How to Make Your Haters Like You

Having haters is a part of life. Hate comes in a variety of forms and can come from friends, family members, coworkers, classmates, associates and even random internet trolls.

Haters are the ugly side of success. If you have anything going for yourself, you’ve experienced hate. Whether you are intelligent, thin, curvy, in a relationship, single, have kids, or love your job, you are going to have haters. You hear the snide comments, see the random side-eyes, read the hateful comments under a social media post. You feel the tension when you try to discuss a recent win with a friend and then you find out that there are people dogging you behind your back.

Most people will tell you to just ignore your haters. They say that it’s just a part of life that you have to learn to deal with especially if you plan to do big things. And while that is accurate and sound advice, there is a way to turn some of your haters into friends.

The magic of asking for a favor

The quickest and easiest way to turn a hater into a friend is to ask them for a favor. It’s a well researched psychology technique called the Ben Franklin Effect[1]. When you ask people who dislike you to help you out, it shifts their perception of the relationship and makes them view you as a friend instead of a foe.

Favors are for friends. You don’t usually do a favor for an enemy or someone you deeply dislike. It all has to do with cognitive dissonance. According to cognitive dissonance theory,[2] there exists a tendency for people to establish consistency in their beliefs, values and opinions. When attitudes and behaviors become inconsistent, dissonance occurs.

The brain needs to eliminate the dissonance. The brain behaves as an outside observer. It continually watches and evaluates your actions and then contrives explanations for why you do what you do. Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions. So, in this case the reasonable belief is that favors are for friends. When you ask a hater for a favor, you create dissonance and the hater has to change their perception of you in order to perform the ask and eliminate the inconsistency.

Asking for a favor is also a subtle form of flattery. Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People suggests that requesting a favor allows the hater to feel that they have something we don’t. It levels the playing field in their mind. It also makes the hater feel admired and respected. They then not only want to help you but will also begin to see you differently. The hate dissipates.

Turn haters into friends

Asking a hater for a favor requires humility and a bit of thought. The favor should be something small enough that it is easily performed but not so trivial that it seems more of an insult than a favor. This means that you should consider the strengths, weaknesses, intellect and ability level of the person you are asking.

If it’s someone you don’t know, keep the ask simple. Borrowing some change at the vending machine or some other small item, asking them for assistance with an app on your smartphone or asking them to recommend a restaurant or other establishment are all great favors to ask for.

When you make your request, remember to ensure it sounds like you really need the favor and value the person’s help. Keep your tone humble and your body language open. And be sure you express your appreciation and gratitude for their help.

This technique is not just for haters. It works well with people you may not know well such as a colleague, mild acquaintance and even your secret crush. The simple action–making a small and reasonable request–can be the catalyst that transform a hater into a friend.

Experiencing hate as you work to become your best self is inevitable. Turning every hater into a friend isn’t a practical goal but you can befriend some. Simply humbling yourself, and asking for assistance in the form of a favor, is the first step in changing them from foe to friend.

Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

Reference

[1] The Science Dog: The Ben Franklin Effect
[2] Instructional Design: Cognitive Dissonance (Leon Festinger)

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This Increases Your Sleeping Time by 30%! The Ultimate Cure For Your Bad Sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping? Many issues can cause sleep deprivation including stress, hormonal imbalance, or even unfavorable sleeping environments. Some people tend to hear and feel everything around them when they sleep, while others sleep deeply.

This makes it easier for the former to wake up suddenly during the night to any slight noise or movement. Alternatively, it reduces productivity and creativity since the brain and body do not have enough time to rest. Nevertheless, the dream band is here to remedy this situation.

Your ultimate sleeping solution

This sleeping solution aids in improving sleeping patterns during sleep. The beauty of this product is the fact that it works in a personalized manner through sensors that respond to any brain changes as the user sleeps.

It was created by Rhythm, a neurotechnology company based in San Francisco and Paris. Through a team of seventy people, this amazing product was created with further input and consultation from ten research labs that are located in the USA and Europe.

Increase your sleeping time by 30% 

This band has numerous features that increase the rate of sleeping by thirty percent. It provides the user with subtle sounds as they sleep to prevent them from interrupting their deep sleep. This reduces the chances of the user experiencing issues such as memory consolidation, cellular regeneration, or even hormone regulation. This amazing device also senses the right time for the user to wake up and facilitates this. It offers the user ways that can help him or her improve their sleep.

Accurate and Safe to Use

Its accurate sensors and distinct features make it one of the best sleep improving inventions in the market. Its personalized approach to remedying sleep deprivation caters to the needs of all the users as opposed to a holistic approach.

The band recognizes that each individual has different issues and works to remedy the situation. The brain activity at the time of monitoring aids in controlling the features and triggering sounds that improve sleep. Forbes stated the following with respect to the product, “A cure for all this bad sleep, one that you can literally wrap around your head.”

The band uses five dry polymer EEG electrodes to detect the sleep stage that the user is in. The bone conduction technology used by the machine aids in stimulating and transmitting safe sound to the bone to facilitate the specific sleep stage that the user is in. Apart from this it also uses learning algorithms,  accelerometer, and Pulsoxy sensor to monitor the heart rate and frequency of breathing of the user. The band wraps around the head with the sensors in the fabric band and the internals on the top of the head to aid the user in achieving comfort.

Cool things website reviewed this product and thought that its design is comfortable enough to wear in bed. In fact, they advised users to equate wearing the device to wearing an eye mask as they sleep. For more information on this product, visit this website.

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Going Back to Frat House Living In Your Old Age Helps You To Age Better

Among the elderly, nursing homes, hospices and country-club retirement community homes aren’t the best of all places to spend their sunset days. But Beacon Hill Village in Boston is rewriting the narrative altogether, and the storyline is nothing short of jaw-dropping. A group of seniors who choose to stay adjacent to each other and strive to make their lives better has led to 190 similar communities springing up across the US.

Joseph F. Coughlin gave the community a visit, and while there, his story about a community creating an adorable aging experience sounds like it’s straight out of a fictional movie. A community of seniors, yet their daily life is reminiscent to happen on vacation, undoubtedly they are enjoying their lives. Impressively, they all relate to each other well, showing love and empathy even without the assistance of a caregiver.

Meet Joan Doucette, a 75-year-old cyclist member of the Beacon Hill Village

Imagine abandoning your regular 9-5, catching up with your ‘gang’ and planning a stimulating, adventurous and event-filled holiday? Sheer fun, right?

What Doucette and her 20+ colleagues are doing is what we all wish to enjoy as soon as possible, and their spirit of togetherness beats any other you’ve heard about before. They are lovely and carefree, regularly meeting for tea and movies, evening dinner at the local restaurants, some booze (exclusively men), chit-chats and adventure trips, on their bikes!

Away from Boston is another heart-melting village, San Francisco Village. Whenever one of their members is sick or needs reassurance after a significant setback, volunteers amongst its members uplift their friend. All the groups, as Coughlin writes, aren’t solely for fun and making memories amid their advanced ages.

They need no outside support

What’s impressive about the mantra within these facilities isn’t how they manage to shower each other with love and priceless warmth alone. Most of their members, especially those yet to attain 80 years, pursue different aspirations, including caregiving, engaging younger generations, organizing cultural fetes and volunteering. It is, perhaps a continuation of what their careers and occupations entailed and some nostalgia!

They accept challenges that threaten their newfound homeliness!

Joanne Cooper, a member of the membership committee at Beacon Hill speaks about the threats that they face and how they manage to pull through. Despite the whole community appearing a lot like a peaceful enclave, members exiting is a norm, either by date or voluntary withdrawal. Lack of funding and visionary leadership also forces similar villages elsewhere to close!

The post is, without a doubt, the best as it restores faith in humanity. This idea isn’t confined to the US alone since Homeshare program in the UK, and Switzerland and Germany’s Wohnen für Hilfe nearly have the same ideals. However, as the trend continues and the elderly enjoy their lives on their own, we, the rest, can’t help, but admire how moving the initiatives are.

To read the full article, click here.

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