Why Do We Get Stuck In Bad Habits?

Let’s start with an example (which may or may not be based my own life experiences!)

As you walk home from work you approach your local supermarket. Inside you can see people wandering around the shop and going about making their purchases. You begin to walk into the direction of the store and before you know it you’re at the checkout buying the chocolate that always takes your fancy.

Initially this wasn’t a problem.

Everyone deserves a treat right?! But gradually you started making these trips on more regular basis until now you can’t go a few days without getting your usual choccy fix. You know that you could be saving up your money to spend on better things (a weekend away maybe?) and that this regular sugar intake can’t be great for your health, but you feel too stuck in your ways to do anything about it.

Sound familiar? (Well I hope that someone can relate to this because I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who’s got a sweet tooth!). So how does a once innocent treat turn into a bad habit?


You could blame the bright lights of the supermarkets for tempting you in to find shelves full of your favourite snacks. And this is definitely part of what keeps your habit going. (Afterall, would you hunt down that chocolate bar elsewhere if the lights of your local shops were off and their shutters where down? Probably not.)

But the major factor which determines whether we do something on a more regular basis is what consequences follow the behaviour that you do.

Going back to the chocolate habit, in the shop you hand over your money to make a purchase (a behaviour). This is then closely followed by you receiving the item and eating it at home Deeelicous! (The consequence). Because you got something nice (the yummy chocolate) after you purchased it from the supermarket, you will be more likely to buy that chocolate again in the future when you next pass by the shop.

And if you do indeed start to buy chocolate more regularly, then you could say that your behaviour is a result of positive reinforcement.

“The behaviour babble”
Positive Reinforcement: something is presented to you after you have completed a certain behaviour. This consequence increases the likelihood that you will do that behaviour again in the future.

Reinforcement: something which makes a behaviour more likely to re-occur again at a later date. 

Beyond the ‘anonymous’ person who is eating chocolate more frequently than they should, what other bad habits do people have?

Online shopping regularly? Gambling? Constantly checking Facebook/Instagram/Twitter? Playing too much candy crush? Watching too much TV?

It’s quite likely that all of these things are heavily influenced by positive reinforcement. It’s something that’s happening constantly in the world around you and you might not have been aware of it until now! (Spooky eh?)

Can you think of other examples of positive reinforcement that are happening right now in your life? Don’t be shy and let me know in the comments section below!

A note about the behaviour babble jargon and how to get through it!
Reinforcement is “positive” because something has been added to your life/environment, NOT because something good has happened. It helps to look at the meaning of “positive” in a similar way to the plus + sign in maths.  There are actually two types of reinforcement, the other type being (you guessed it!) “negative reinforcement”. Because negative reinforcement does not tend to result in bad habits I’ll spare you the explanation of that for another time! But FYI it helps to remember early on that positive = plus/adding something you like.



31 thoughts on “Why Do We Get Stuck In Bad Habits?

  1. If some one wishes to be updated with most up-to-date
    technologies after that he must be visit this website and be up to date all the time.

  2. I needed to thank you for this very good read!!
    I definitely loved every bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new
    stuff you post…

  3. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most
    useful sites online. I am going to recommend this blog!

  4. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but after going through a
    few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m
    definitely delighted I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking
    it and checking back frequently!

  5. Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  6. Great site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good
    quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate people like
    you! Take care!!

  7. This web site truly has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn’t
    know who to ask.

  8. That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article.

  9. Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together.

    I once again find myself spending a lot of time
    both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile.

  10. Hello, Neat post. There’s an issue with your website in web explorer, would test this?
    IE still is the market leader and a huge portion of people will
    leave out your great writing due to this problem.

  11. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through problems with your RSS.
    I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it.
    Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond?


  12. First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question which
    I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15
    minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or tips? Cheers!

  13. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this.
    And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I discovered it
    for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about
    this matter here on your site.

  14. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and
    entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something which too few men and women are
    speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across
    this during my search for something relating to

  15. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I
    stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read through
    content from other writers and use something from other web sites.

  16. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding the
    time and actual effort to generate a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t
    manage to get anything done.

  17. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but after going through
    many of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll
    be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  18. You’ve made some decent points there. I looked on the web to
    find out more about the issue and found most
    individuals will go along with your views on this site.

  19. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written much better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send
    this article to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

  20. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both educative
    and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something which not enough people are speaking
    intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this during my
    search for something relating to this.

  21. It is not my first timе to pay a viѕit tһis web pаge, i am visiting this web
    site dailly and get fastidious facts from here everүday.

  22. What’s up everyone, it’s my first visit at this web site, and post is actually fruitful in favor of me,
    keep up posting these types of content.

  23. I got this web site from my buddy who told me concerning this site and
    at the moment this time I am visiting this site and reading very informative
    posts at this time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *