Use your bad habits to fuel your good ones


I am a major podcast lover.  I usually play one when I’m in the car, on the subway, often when I’m cooking, and I fall asleep listening to one every night (it helps me shut my brain off!).  One podcast I really enjoy is Happier with Gretchen Reuben.  She talks about little “life hacks” and reframing exercises to bring more happiness into your day.  

I often think back to a podcast where she talks about the concept of “pairing” - attaching an activity you like to do with one you have to do in order to increase motivation and enjoyment of the “have to” activity.  You probably already do this a bit - listening to music while you clean or work out for example.  They also say if there is something you find really stressful, like a morning commute - spend some time finding some great new music, an audiobook or a podcast and then only enjoy it when you’re doing that activity.

After I listened to that podcast though, I thought why not take it one step further.  Why not pair something we want to make into a habit with something you may be a little addicted to.  For example, if you’re hooked on Stranger Things, only watch it when walking on the treadmill.  Don’t have access to a treadmill?  Put a timer on your phone to beep every 2 minutes and do 25 jumping jacks whenever it beeps for as long as you want to watch.  Have a song you feel you just need to play on repeat?  Only allow yourself to listen to it if you hit the gym or finally tackle a mess you’ve been meaning to get to.  Dopamine is a major neurotransmitter in the addiction pathway, and it spikes when you’re chasing a reward…. but you don’t feel satisfied after you get that reward, you just crave another.  If you pair these types of activities, you can harness that reward chasing feeling with an activity that will actually leave you feeling good after - like a workout or an accomplishment.

So what do you think?  Do you already do this?  Can you think of scenarios where you can up the ante and consciously pair things to improve your productivity and well being?  Let me know in the comments!


Dr Kaleigh

Kaleigh Briggs1 Comment