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The Science of Breaking Bad Habits with Wendy Wood, PhD: PYP 353

Wendy Wood, PhD, knows more about the science of habit formation – and habit breaking – than just about anyone.

While popular writers share their opinions about habits, Wood does the research. More than 30 years worth, as a research psychologist first at Duke University and now at the University of Southern California.

Wood has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, and the paper trail of her research demonstrates a curious and creative and extremely tenacious approach to uncovering the mysteries of human behavior – particularly those human behaviors that are a mystery to the humans engaging in them.

Drawing on the insights of behavioral economics and modern neuroscience, Wood posits that habits are maintained by the “automatic” system of the brain, the one outside conscious control. And therefore trying to change habits through conscious means is a fool's errand, destined to fail (and to make us feel like failures).

Instead of applying conscious willpower to powerfully persistent patterns (yea, alliteration) of behavior, Wood's research demonstrates the effectiveness of changing environmental cues to trigger new and different responses.

I think there's more to habit than this – working with the Missing Chins and many others who have forged themselves into different people through intention and repetition, I have a profound respect for the judicious use of free will and identity and choice in becoming the most authentic versions of ourselves.

That is to say, given the option to completely shift my environment to never trigger, say, a chocolate craving again, I'd rather become the sort of person who can say “no” to chocolate even when it's being waved in my face.

There's value in that kind of self-discipline, completely separate from the eating (or not) of chocolate.

And – I think Dr Wood's approach is incredibly helpful, and completely necessary. I don't know anyone who completely eliminated a bad habit without reducing the environmental cues for its performance. And thinking that we can “just say no” is a demoralizing and fundamentally flawed stance.

So I invite you to listen to our conversation with an eye on your own “bad” habits, looking for ways to make simple and profound environmental tweaks to increase the friction that you must overcome in order to perform it.

Oh, and there's a video as well:

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

Good Habits, Bad Habits – by Wendy Wood, PhD

GoodHabitsBadHabits.com

Thinking, Fast and Slow – by Daniel Kahneman, PhD

Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Anthony Dissen – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Christine Nielsen – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Viktoriya Dolomanova – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Julianne Rowland – Stu Dolnick – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Wayne Pedersen – Leanne Peterson – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Stephanie Halmes – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Nikole Ramsay – Susan Ahmad – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Ashley Corcoran – Kelly Michiya – DeAnne Norton – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Shell Routledge – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Brian Sheridan – Shannon Herschman – Cate Rolls – Linda Ayotte – Julie Lang – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – AvIvA Lael – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Tanya Lewis – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Kelly Baker Miracle – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Valerie Pelletier – Peter W Evans – Colleen Harrison – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Deb Coscia – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Günter Schmid – Marjorie Lewis – Kelly Moulden – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Rachelle Kennedy – Joan Bornstein – Diana Goldman – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – Hollie Butler – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi -for your generous support of the podcast.

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Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.

Disclosure

This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

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