Our lives are governed by our habits – good and bad. And breaking a bad habit can be harder than picking up a good one.

Background: Last week, we prepared for you Top hackers How to create good habits. Today, we bring you advice—from expert interviews and research studies—on how to avoid the bad ones.

  • “How to Break Bad Habits Don’t believe in the worst things in the world,” says Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg, who studies habit formation. “If it were that simple, we wouldn’t have so much trouble in the world.”
  • “Breaking bad habits is a more complicated process than creating new ones.”

Here are our top tips to get you started:

  1. Make it hard. It’s easier to break a bad habit if you make it hard to do, says Fogg. If you’re sick of using your phone before bed, put it in another room.
  2. Get the bad habit out of your life. It’s hard to get out of the habit if you get your surroundings right. If your goal is to lose weight, stock your fridge and pantry with feel-good snacks instead of buying — then try to resist — junk.
  3. Be patient with yourself. As we all know, these changes take time. But we are quick to blame ourselves or give up after a slip or two. Carry yourself with grace, and don’t expect perfection.
  4. Call the experts. You can deal with small bad habits like nail biting or late night snacking and more serious ones like drug addiction on your own, Fogg notes. Be sure to seek professional help if you need it.
  5. Celebrate! Like good habits, it’s important to follow the small steps along the way to break a bad habit. Journal about it, tell your friends, or post pictures – whatever reinforces those happy feelings in your mind.

Go deep; Top tips for building lasting good habits

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