I think it is important to define what makes a habit different than other actions. I personally tend to think of habits as any behavior that we can do without having to exert willpower.
I have to go out of my way not to brush my teeth every day.
I have to really try to run a stop sign (assuming I see it).
That means these are habits.
When you workout because you don’t want to reroute your life around missing your workout, that is when it is habit.
Our goal at Habitgrams is to help you take hard behaviors in life like eating right, going to the gym, or being kind to your spouse and transform them in true habits that you can repeat with consistency and keep up indefinitely.
That is our end goal, and we are going to build you as many tools as we can to help you in that journey.
But let’s dig deeper.
What does science say a habit is? From a neuroscience perspective, a habit is a behavior that originates in the Basal Ganglia section of your brain. This is the “reptilian” part of your brain that handles repetition and your subconscious.
In contrast, most non-habit behavior originates in your Prefrontal Cortex. This is the part of your brain where your normal consciousness lives. It makes decisions, predictions and evaluations of the world around you. This is the self-aware part of your brain. It is “you”.
An easy way to tell whether a behavior is a habit or not, is simply to watch yourself as you do it. Did you debate with yourself about whether to brush your teeth … or how to brush your teeth.. or whether you would continue to do things like go to work or school? I’m guessing the answer is no (unless you are having some sort of an existential crisis). The action is automatic and the urge coming from our basal ganglia is to simply do the thing without making every..single..little..decision about it. These are habits.
Perhaps a better example is when you drive a car. This is an extremely complex group of actions. You have turn signals, gears, pedals, and many other gadets to manage.. and that is before you even start thinking about traffic rules, other cars, pedestrians… if you were to debate each little decision you make driving your car, you would go insane and never leave your driveway. And yet we drive our cars all the time. We can do this because all of these little actions have become habit, leaving our conscious minds free to think about important things, like where we are going.