Jamie Gordon Life Coach

In Pursuit of Healthy Habits

Category: Uncategorized

The Habit Loop

How are habits formed? Why is it so hard to do the stuff we should do and so easy to do the “bad” stuff? According to author Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit we see something we want (Stimuli) and we go after it for the reward it will bring. But it is more complicated than this because sometimes the immediate reward costs us more in the long run. Take, for example, dieting. We know we should eat healthy. Then we walk by a bakery shop. Memories of delicious foods  come in through our sense of smell, ah the aroma of fresh baked bread. Wouldn’t that taste good? Don’t I deserve to eat something delicious? Yes, I do! before another thought can enter your head you are walking through the door and not only buying bread but a sweet treat as well.

What happened to the diet? It was overwhelmed by sensations and memories of past enjoyment. It was kicked to the curb! Again!

Now what?  Have your heard the expression being thin feels better than food tastes? When I first heard this I said “Yes”! But why am I not thin? It’s complicated. You have to understand the system that is running your choices. First, there is the system of metabolism and hunger. How do you control that? I find that it helps to limit carbs and simple sugars but I am not doing this all of the time. I “cheat” because sugar feels like a reward.

Then there is the complexity of our minds. We think thoughts all the time. Some of them happy and gratifying and others that are harsh and judgemental. Mind control is another topic, but it plays strongly in the arena of diet and habit formation. Can you think yourself thin? Lynne McTaggart says yes. Again, more for another day.

Then there is the complex question, what is a reward? There are immediate and delayed rewards. Supposedly as we get older and hopefully wiser, we can delay gratification. We learn to wait. But then this wiser self looks at death and says, “have that sweet now”!  So, we do. And maybe we feel a little less guilty. And we decide that being THIS SIZE is not so bad after all. So, what is a reward? Do it now or wait? Yes! Figure out what satisfies you deep down inside and do that.

In the end the habit loop explains the stimulus/reward part of the brain. But we are more complicated than the old part of our brains, the amygdala. We have the ability to choose our thoughts and our responses.

Habits. Good ones have long-lasting benefits. Go for that.


The Growth Mindset In Action

In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck explains that we fall into one of two mindsets, fixed or growth. The fixed mindset believes that they are all they will ever be right now. The growth mindset believes that they are capable of learning and evolving. None of us is “pure” in all activities. What I mean is that we can be in a “fixed” mindset doing certain tasks and “growth minded” doing others. Take me for example. I come from a family that  gets lost when navigating and driving. I called this behavior “geographic dyslexia”. It produces a huge amount of anxiety in me. One day while riding in the car  my boyfriend John  asked me to help him navigate. I said something like “I am geographically challenged”. We had just finished reading about mindsets so, with his guidance, I modified what I had uttered and said, “I used to be geographically challenged but I am getting better all the time”. Small change but it had the immediate effect of lifting the hold that the fear of being afraid and getting lost had over me. It just felt better to ALLOW that I am willing to grow to become a better navigator.

How can you use the “growth mindset” to break out of fixed thoughts about yourself?


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