Try not to use willpower
How brain science advises us to break bad habits? Studies suggest that relying on will power is hopeless. Instead, we must find strategies that don’t require us to be strong.
Charles Duhigg in Power of Habit and Wendy Wood in Good Habits, Bad Habits thoroughly tackle this subject and through two different angles come up with this very same conclusion. “The central force for eliminating bad habits, according to Wood, is “friction”: if we can make bad habits more inconvenient, then inertia can carry us in the direction of virtue, without ever requiring us to be strong. She cites the ways in which increased friction has produced a decline in smoking: laws that ban it in restaurants, bars, airplanes, and trains; taxes that have helped triple the price of cigarettes in the U.S.; the purge of cigarettes from vending machines, and of tobacco ads from TV”
Also she cities a self-control study, “where college students were most successful at adopting productive behaviors not when they resolved to do better, or distracted themselves from temptation, but when they altered their environment. Instead of studying on a couch in a dorm, with a TV close by, they went to the library. They ate better when they removed junk food from the dorm refrigerator.“
Substitute a reward of a bad habit w/ a reward of more positive one
“Duhigg writes he gave up getting a cookie each afternoon in his office’s cafeteria … He switched up his routine, eating a doughnut at his desk instead of visiting the cafeteria, or taking a brief stroll outside. He was testing hypotheses: if eating the doughnut at his desk didn’t sate the urge to go to the cafeteria, he could rule out sugar. By a process of elimination, he determined that his habit was really driven by a need for interaction and distraction. The best replacement for a cookie turned out to be going over to a friend’s desk to chat.”