How Habits Are Formed: The Simple Yet Special Truth Behind It


Ever wondered how habits are formed? Every person has a unique perspective on the subject. Oxford dictionary defines the word ‘Habit’ as “a settled tendency or practice that might be hard to give up” and “an automatic reaction to a specific situation”. Imagine this: It’s been a long and tiring day. In the evening, fortunately, you drive home and you drive as if your car were plugged into autopilot. You can’t remember the circumstances in which you learned to drive or the first time you’ve been down that road. But you cross it without producing the slightest effort. Living under different circumstances, experiencing different environments and cultures, people tend to adopt some habits that may become their distinctive features.

Furthermore, a person’s tendency to react to a situation in a particular and unique manner can be called their habit. According to Good Habits, Bad Habits: A Conversation with Wendy Wood, over 80 percent of people know what habits are, but they don’t understand how they are formed. Habits often change your life as they can change lives for better or for worse. but that solely depends on the habits you adopt.  Some habits are good, which help a person achieve their life goals. However, some are bad, which are harmful mentally and physically. Later in life, these prove to be hurdles and are quite difficult to overcome once a person makes them a part of his/her routine.

how habits are formed

How Habits Are Formed?

Every person undergoes different circumstances and reacts differently to them in a unique manner. His reaction could be completely different based on his personality and his behavioral instincts, thus complementing psychological and physical needs, a person reacts in a particular manner. The repetition of specific actions can lead to the automatic response of the person in various conditions. Habit formation is a process that may take time to form and, as a result, stick with the person for very long.

The Science Behind The Formation Of Habits

how habits are formed

So how do habits work? A certain motive leads to every single effort or action performed by a person. The motivation to achieve a goal or gain something valuable to him is the reason behind his every step and effort. A motive drives the measures he takes to perform even a single task. And the repetition of similar actions causes habit formation. Acting similarly continuously causes the automation of actions performed by a person. Consequently, that is how habits are formed.

The three R’s of Habit formation are discussed below and are also described in the article How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick from a different angle. The article explains how to voluntarily form habits to change your life. The three main components of how habits are formed:


· Context Cue

The context cue is actually a particular condition, time, location, or anything that triggers a specific response from a person. Something that triggers a person to respond peculiarly. It can be a place or a specific time of the day or something that triggers the person to react distinctively. A person’s clear motivation drives him to do something that may be out of his way to achieving satisfaction. Even in some circumstances, a person may perform some physical actions that may lead to psychological satisfaction. 

· Behavioral Repetition

In the early stages, a person may feel some difficulties developing behavioral repetition. Moreover, to achieve a particular goal, a person may continue repeating his actions. This could lead to his automatic response to the situation. The satisfaction a person might achieve from certain activities leads to the repetition of his behavior. This behavioral repetition is utterly vital for the formation of habits.

· The Reward

The reward might be the satisfaction a person might want from a particular action or set of actions. The repetitive measures the person might take to accomplish a life goal are the main reason behind habit formation. The reward he will receive from practice is the motivation to develop a pattern and repetition in his behavior.

How Habits Are Formed In The Brain?

Habit formation in our brain psychologically happens in three steps. Biologically scientists have discovered that the part of the brain responsible for habit formation is “basal ganglia.” It plays an essential function in developing emotions and pattern recognition. On the other hand, the brain’s part in making decisions is called the “prefrontal cortex.

Consequently, the brain’s decision-making part goes to sleep to conserve energy and the “basal ganglia” gives the automatic response.” The brain can use the decision-making energy somewhere else because it has to work less because of habit formation. This habit formation can prove beneficial for the person if it makes him sharper without actually taking time to process all that information and decide. To better understand how habits are formed. watch this video ‘How Habits Change Your Brain. The video explains how our brain changes when habits are formed and what to do to develop a new habit. 

The article’ Habits: How They Form And How To Break Them‘ explains in detail how habits are formed in our brains.


Types Of Habits:

Good Habits

good habits

A person who plans his daily routine accordingly may develop a schedule that is beneficial for him. The agenda he creates for his daily routine might be challenging to follow in the first few days. But soon his brain will not have to go through the decision-making process again. It might become a routine for him, and he may no longer face any difficulties doing that. A good habit is when a person automatically or intentionally develops it to achieve his dreams and goals.

A person may call them good habits for success because they will drive him towards success. For another person, the set of actions that conserve his decision-making energy for other tasks in his day will be called good habits for him. These habits may develop over time without a person even thinking about them consciously as he may be too busy working or acting a certain way in order to achieve some goals.

Parents are always worried about their children thus to assist them the article, “10 Habits Parents Should Teach Their Children For School” discusses some healthy habits for their children. If you are someone wondering what habits promote critical thinking in a child, you should check out the article. 

Bad Habits

bad habits

A behavioral pattern that is undesirable or harmful for the person can be called a bad habit. For example, a person seeks comfort and takes longer naps than usual. The repetition of the behavior might cause an automatic behavioral pattern that might be difficult for him to give up. In the longer run, this habit might prove to be a problem for his routine and it could affect his work. The affected person might want to achieve some things and could be working hard for them. Bad habits are only going to keep him shy of success.

 More examples of bad habits could be procrastination, nail-biting, and fidgeting.  Several other bad habits are listed in ‘The Big List Of Bad Habits‘  you’ll see how people having a hard time overcoming these habits. Addiction and bad habits are separate things.  If a person has the willpower and ability to turn over something, then it is a bad habit. In case of addiction, the person no longer has the willpower. He becomes wholly dependent on it and loses the ability to decide otherwise. 

 Following simple steps, a person can overcome bad habits. The link is to a video that shows simple steps to overcome bad habits’ 4 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits‘. Some of the behavioral changes a person need to develop in himself to overcome bad habits are,

  • Identifying the behavior to change
  • Understand the root cause of the bad habits
  • Make gradual and tiny changes
  • Refrain in the future from the same things
  • Point out the best reason to give up
  • Change your company
  • Change your attitude


Habits For Success: What Habits To Track

Every individual has some goals and dreams that he wants to achieve. To fulfill his dreams, he may wish to alter his daily routine, make a schedule, and develop habits that might help him. A person’s attitude and daily routine are critical in order to achieve some goals. Some habits prove to be very beneficial and help the person throughout the day. A person might develop a schedule and follow it daily.

The repetition of such behavior can generate some good behavioral changes and form habits to change his life. A woman claims to have spent 5 years studying the Habits for success and collected data from highly successful individuals. She discusses them in her article ‘9 habits of highly successful people, from a man who spent 5 years studying them.’



If you are someone who wants to improve in life then you need self-development. You need certain habits that fuel you and most importantly put you in the right mindset to succeed. Here are some that you might want to start putting in your daily routine:

 1. Waking Up Early

Want to develop habits to change your life? Want to follow success stories? Every successful person ever goes to sleep early and wakes up early. He devotes more of his time to working and spends it on himself rather than wasting his time sleeping.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise

This saying is old, and almost every child has heard his elders told him to follow it.

 The person who wakes up early has a lot of time to himself because he can relax in the morning, giving him a boost for the rest of the day. Waking up early is one of the most important habits a person needs in order to achieve something big. Waking up early is one of the best habits for success and personal development. If you’re having trouble waking up early, some behavioral changes that can help you develop a habit of waking up early are listed in this article ‘The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early.’

2. Staying Lean: Habits For Weight Loss

For a healthy body and a healthy brain, exercising daily is very important. Exercising daily makes a person healthy, and his brain remains active. Keeping a healthy body means that the person has more minor things to worry about. A healthy body complements the brain, and it can work way more efficiently because developing some habits for weight loss can help a person stay fit and mentally fresh throughout their day.

 What can be a better way than to start your day with exercising? If you’re trying to lose weight here are some foods to avoid on your weight loss journey Even if you don’t have to lose weight, exercising early in the morning will help you stay healthy and fit. Staying fit and strong, both mentally and physically, is very important.

3. Reading: One Of The Habits To Change Your Life

Knowledge is power, and more knowledge is always a good thing. But there is no such thing as sufficient knowledge. In order to pursue your dreams and goals, you have to compromise a lot. Knowledge can open many doors and broaden a person’s perspective of the world; if you want habits to change your life, developing a reading habit should be prioritized. In the list of Habits for success, reading is definitely up there in the top three.

4. Pursue Your Own Goals

Nowadays, we tend to look at other people’s success and try to be like them thus we think that if they have all that and if we do the same thing, we will reach the same heights. It’s not always true, and a person should follow his own passion and his own dreams. Because every individual has a unique set of skills, and they might be perfect for their goals. Every person is different, and his set of skills might be helpful in another field. Hence, develop habits to change your life according to your mental ability and challenge yourself and not others.

5. Habits to Improve Mental Health

Mental health is an essential aspect of our lives and every person should take care of his own mental health. Mental health is so vital that a person might not be able to function properly and get through the day. To perform even the easiest of tasks, a person should be in the proper mental health. Some habits that destroy bad mental health are described in the article THE TEN WORST HABITS FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH and to overcome these bad habits and develop practices to improve mental health, a person should create specific behavioral changes:

  • Get proper rest
  • Exercise regularly
  • Pick up a hobby
  • Be mindful
  • Open up
  • Try and focus on the positives


Habits are the unique characteristics of a person that define the personality of that person. In certain conditions, a person might react uniquely, and the repetition of that behavior can cause the formation of a habit. The behavioral repetition of specific actions in some circumstances can result in the development of habits. Habits may also define the kind of company a person keeps and what are his hobbies and interests. Thus a behavior change is necessary to make good things happen in a person’s life. Good habits may help the person in achieving goals and fulfilling his dreams. Willpower plays an essential role in order to become a better person and achieve good things in life.

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