A Simple Way to Create Habits

What do you want this year? Do you want to get into better shape, eat healthier, sleep better? The truth is that much of what we do is driven by habits. That's why we need to make sure that we're creating good habits so that we can get what we want. Because it's just as easy to create bad habits (and we all have plenty of those) as it is to create good habits.

​Key Takeaway

Habits are more a function of repetition, of what we do rather than what we want. Good habits are just as easy to create as bad habits. That's why it's important to make sure that we're creating the right habits that will get us what we want.

There are simple lifestyle changes that we can make to reduce our risk of dementia and disability in later life. These include managing blood pressure controlling cholesterol, keeping blood sugar normal, getting physically active, eating a healthy diet, losing extra weight, quitting smoking, maintaining social relationships, and managing depression and hearing loss.

Here's a new study from Princeton and Brown Universities "which shows that forming good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it." In this computer simulation, digital rodents were given a choice of two levers, one with a reward attached to it (the right lever), and the other with no reward (the wrong lever) and the rewards were switched periodically between the levers. 

When the rodents were trained on the levers for a short time, they were quick to switch between the levers to receive the reward. But, when they were trained extensively on one of the levers, they stuck stubbornly to the lever they were trained on, even when it was the wrong lever and they weren't getting the reward. The chance of a reward did not sway them to switch levers!

This research shows that habits are more a product of what we do than what we want. Simple repetition over a period of time is enough to create a habit. "Habits themselves are a product of our previous actions, but in certain situations those habits can be supplanted by our desire to get the best outcome."


Miller, K. J., Shenhav, A., and Ludvig, E. A. (2018). Habits Without ValuesPsychological Review, 2018 DOI: 10.1101/067603

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get ten neuroscience strategies to work with your clients' brains


Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software