Researchers are pinpointing the brain circuits involved in forming habits. Dr. Elisha Goldstein, clinical psychologist, describes how a mindfulness practice can be used to curb bad habits.
A mindfulness practice is one of the techniques that can be used to train your brain to let go of old bad habits and create new good habits. With brain training techniques such as mindfulness, you’re able to break the automatic response by creating awareness of triggers, thoughts and body sensations that are associated with that habit.
With repetition, the physical brain actually changes. As the old habits are replaced with new positive habits, the old brain circuits are replaced with new neural networks in the brain that support the new behavior.
“Why are bad habits so hard to break? What if the bumper sticker “Just Say No!” actually works against us? If willpower were the answer to breaking bad habits then we wouldn’t have drug addiction or obesity. There’s something going on in our brains where we literally lose the ability for self-control, but all hope isn’t lost.
Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls the phrase “Just Say No!” “magical thinking.”
It appears that dopamine is one of the main chemicals regulating the pleasure center of the brain. At the most basic level, it regulates motivation—it sends signals to receptors in the brain saying, “This feels good!”
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Story Courtesy of: Psych Central
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