Ted Talks : A simple way to break a bad habit - Judson Brewer

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Ted Talks : A simple way to break a bad habit - Judson Brewer

Post by Viktor Beekman on Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:01 pm

Hi everyone,

For this assignment I watched the short film called “A simple way to break a bad habit” by the psychiatrist Judson Brewer. I found his subject interesting since practically everyone has some bad habits and myself I find them very hard to break.

Judson starts off by talking about meditation and how it is difficult to pay attention to something as simple as your breathing. At first I was wondering what this had to do with a bad habit, but then he continued that in fact the reason it is so difficult to pay attention is a mechanism our brain uses.

To explain this he used an example, cake. When we eat something like cake (especially with a lot of sugar in it) our brain is happy and connects eating cake with happiness. So when we are feeling bad, our brain tells us that if we eat cake we will feel better. This explains why we eat ice cream when we feel sad! This is a signal from the brain that tells us to eat, not the stomach…

He explains this type of behaviour comes in three steps; Trigger, behaviour and reward. Another example for this was smoking (another bad habit). The image of smokers is to be cool (The Marlboro Man was cool) so kids will change their behaviour and smoke to finally feel cool as a reward.

It’s funny that a functionality of our brain that used to help us to survive, now is helping us kill ourselves. Is it possible to turn this around or use this functionality in a way that benefits us? Judson says that we should be aware of our behaviour and be mindful for example when we are smoking. During tests mindful smokers said that it tastes like shit and that even though they knew before that it was bad they get more aware about this fact just by paying attention to it. Judson calls this cognitive control. He adds that when stressed we will fall back into our old habits, but we should be aware of the results of this fall-back. So that we let go of these bad habits in the future.

I found this a very interesting talk and I hope this might help me dealing with the bad habits that I have. Even though it seems very difficult and exhausting to be mindful and paying attention all of the time.

Viktor Beekman
Viktor Beekman

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