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Understanding Habits (Part 2)

It can be argued that your life is essentially the summary of your habits! What is visible and dominant about you today can be traced back ...

It can be argued that your life is essentially the summary of your habits! What is visible and dominant about you today can be traced back to your daily routines. 
Understanding Habits (Part 2)
These include the shape of your body, the amount of investments-savings in your account, the value of assets acquired, the number of times you have been married, the number of jobs you have changed, the level of qualifications you hold! You are a product of your life behavioural patterns. 

Prominent authors, Charles Duhigg and Nir Eyal; had massive influence in their explanations for us to understand the cycle of habits. For the ease of explanation, I will use one example to illustrate all the four stages of creating a habit. It is very important to follow through the explanations below in their order; with that example in mind. It will bring the full cycle of habit into a better understanding. 

Stage 1: Cue
The cue triggers your brain to initiate certain behaviour. This is the beginning of the habit creation cycle. Without a cue, no behavioural change is sought. For example; at this stage you may feel itching in your body. Your mind begins to continuously scan the environment to see where we can get a reward; therefore the cue (an itching of the body) naturally leads us to a craving. 

Stage 2: Craving
Because you have a cue of an itching body, it now creates a craving; which is the motivational force behind the habit. Without some level of desire (craving), there is no reason for you to act. And in our example; at this stage you develop the desire to have a clean body that is free from itching. Craving for a clean body is not the habit itself, but it is the desired change in state that is delivered by the habit. Because of your desire to change your current state (itching body) to a desired state (clean body, free from itching); it now triggers you to make a response.

Stage 3: Response
The response forms the actual habit that you carry-out. So in our example of an itching body; having passed through the “cue” and “craving” stages, one is now responding to the itching body through bathing. As previously alluded to; there is no motivation for a response if there was no a cue that initiated it. While the response of bathing does not necessarily provide a permanent solution to the itching problem; but it now forms an iterative action which will almost certainly be repeated every time the body itches. It certainly becomes a habit!!

Stage 4: Reward
This is the last stage of habit formation! It now brings the satisfaction of having achieved what had been initiated by the cue stage. Ideally, a reward is the end goal of every habit. And in our example; at this stage the body is now fully bathed, and the person is enjoying a refreshing atmosphere. He can now afford a comfortable and quiet sleep because the cycle has been concluded, and the problem addressed.

We continue chasing rewards in life because:
(a) They satisfy us; vis-à-vis our life needs and requirements; 
(b) They teach us about life; and how to manage it going forward. 

This is the four-stage iterative process that is continuously practiced in creating a habit. And in summary: 
1) The cue is about noticing the reward
2) The craving is about wanting the reward 
3) The response delivers a reward, and
4) The reward represents the end goal of every habit.

Check out Understanding Habits (Part 3)