Shedding off unproductive old habits in the New Year

It has been observed that ‘an optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’ There are bad habits that could, if not checked, take you into the New Year.

It has been observed that ‘an optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’ There are bad habits that could, if not checked, take you into the New Year.

Bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health; both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy.

For centuries, human kind has used the New Year to mark a transition out of these bad habits into good ones. Yes, change is possible. We can leave unhealthy and unproductive habits behind, but most people over promise and under deliver.

The difference in every year is that people are looking at the changes of breaking old habits and creating new ones. However, habit formation is like acting on automatic pilot. It is so woven into the fabric of our behavior we do not even stop to think that we are on automatic pilot. We just keep on doing it and going on.

Think of a habit as a conditioned, automatic process that has been established in the brain in response to a stimulus. But the fact is that our habitual behaviors are correlated with specific brain regions – the hippocampus and long-term memory, it will require considerable amount of strain to change.

This is because these “habit memory systems” are deeply ingrained, even after a new habit is established; it often happens that we slip back to old behavior. The longer a habit exists, the stronger the neural connections and the harder it is to change.

Now, there are the occasions when other skill sets come into play that enable us to tolerate some of these negative habits that often lead us to distress and manage cravings and anxiety. Experts suggest that mindfulness practice and the ability to self-motivate when experiencing setbacks, by changing our negative internal self-talk, are examples of what can get us back on the path of sustained new habits.

We can also invest a few minutes of our time to design changes that will make us happier and healthier. Often, make a list of resolutions in the hope that our willpower will be strong enough to launch us into a new way of living.

No one at this juncture desires to have negative thoughts that perhaps have been stuck in our minds. Every resolution is deemed as a positive and a step towards achieving the desires of our heart.

Of course, it is easy to jump quickly into our hopes for the future by creating these resolutions. We hope that the changing of the year’s digit will rescue and evacuate us from past habits and barriers that we have created for ourselves in various spheres.

But, as simple as this may sound, acknowledging and identifying a need to change an unproductive habit, while not a guarantee, is a good beginning. To change and sustain new habit we have to form strong brain connections through new powerful associations.

The more often we do something, the bigger and stronger the neural connection becomes.

This requires a strong will and commitment to make this change. To succeed, you must believe that you can accomplish what you set out to achieve, and that belief is bolstered by the unwavering support you give yourself. It must come from the individual inner being rather than being a mere influence of the environment around us.

Such individual determination translates to communal achievements which in turn grow the economy both at local and national level. It is certain that for us to see the good of our nation, everyone has to abandon the unproductive ways of doing things to the new ones.

In fact changing habits should not just be a New Year resolution but a genuine commitment that runs from the first to the last day of the year.

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