Habits, Belief, and Community

Changing habits is hard.  

How many times have you recognized a behavior in yourself you abhor?  You swear up and down this is the last time. THIS is the last drink, or cigarette, or cookie, or…fill in the blank.  Yet the very next day you find yourself in the same situation, saying the exact same thing.

There’s lots of science around changing habits.  Psychologists work on finding cues, observing the habitual routines those cues engage, and identifying the reward your brain is actually craving. That’s an important distinction, it’s not that you want a drink or a cookie, it’s your brain craving the feeling that behavior produces.  Your brain wants that hit of dopamine or serotonin, and it will do whatever it takes to get it- many times to your detriment.

So what’s the trick?  How can we rewire our brains to work for us, not against us?  What’s the shortcut to changing something you’ve tried to do on your own time and time again?  This sounds so corny, but it’s the truth- you need to BELIEVE. If you don’t believe you can change you never will, it’s that simple.

And that’s where the value of a community is massive.  Belief is essential, and it grows out of communal experience.  When you’re around a group of people who have shared experiences and are working towards the same goal, something awesome happens.  Eventually you look around and think ‘If it worked for that guy, it’ll work for me’. Because you see the change occurring in someone else, it seems much more possible for you to do the same thing.  And just like that you have new found faith in yourself. You believe you can change.

Things move slowly at first, then it snowballs as you start to see changes not just in others, but in yourself.  You look in the mirror and you think ‘Damn look at that arm muscle’! Then, you get that hit of dopamine your brain craves so intensely.  Pretty soon the old habit loop has been rewired. You no longer have to eat the cookie to feel good, because your brain gets the same chemical response when you workout at the gym.  

There’s a new habit in town, born through a community that believes.


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