What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

How to Form a Good Habit

August 18, 2012, 12:00 AM
Good%20habit

What's the Big Idea? 

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase “good habits,” I involuntarily wince. Most of us first learn about the importance of good habits (their magical power to keep us out of jail, the poorhouse, etc) from our parents. What’s often left out is the instructional piece. We learn that good habits are good, but not necessarily how to develop them.  

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, acclaimed journalist Charles Duhigg investigates the neuroscience of habit and explains how habit loops are formed in the brain. Because these loops – comprised of cue (“hmm, it’s 3 pm...cookie time!”), routine (Go to cabinet. Eat cookie.), and reward (Yummy cookie dopamine rush, fun break room chat with colleagues dopamine rush . . .) – become neurologically hardwired over time, they’re easier to rewire, slotting in other elements, than to drop entirely.  

But let’s say I’ve managed to kick my 3pm cookie habit, and I’m ready to take things to the next level by initiating a rigorous daily exercise regimen. Want to know how not to go about it? By making a resolution, then gritting your teeth each day through a 45 minute workout, then grimly enduring a salad. Yet this is how many people approach forming a new, good habit, and why most of them fail.  

[VIDEO] Charles Duhigg on how to form a good habit

For the habit to stick, the reward part of cue – routine – reward, says Duhigg, can’t come six weeks later when you step on a scale. It has to be immediate. Instead of a salad, Duhigg suggests rewarding yourself with a small piece of chocolate after a workout (if you like chocolate. If not, then a beer perhaps.) This should be sufficient to make exercise something your brain looks forward to, rather than something it dreads and will invent any possible excuse to avoid. 

It’s a little embarrassing to realize that our sophisticated brain is so easily fooled. The exercise doesn’t cause the chocolate bar to appear, but the association is formed nonetheless. Give it a try. The next time you hear the word gym you might just start salivating.

 

Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter 

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

 

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, December 10 2013

DIY Health

The brain's reliance on habit loops to automate much of our thought and behavior is in one sense an evolutionary triumph in that it frees our attention to focus on other, more important things tha... Read More…

 

How to Form a Good Habit

Newsletter: Share: