It's easy to think of all the good habits we wish we had. And, as it turns out, setting good habits can be a powerful way to achieve our goals, as well as keep us focused and organized. Once a good habit becomes etched in our brain, we're able to attain our objectives without even thinking about it.
In his bestselling book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg discusses the ways we use habits to achieve the things we want. He explains that habits require three components -- the cue, the reward, and the routine. In order to successfully create any automatic response, we have to nail all three.
The cue is simply the circumstances surrounding the habit. Take, for example, brushing your teeth, which you (hopefully) do at least twice a day. Most likely you do it when you wake up and before going to bed. You probably brush in the bathroom. You're also probably by yourself, or maybe your spouse is there too. You may be triggered or cued to do it because, well, your mouth tastes mucky or you ate something with garlic in it. Most of us don't think much about brushing our teeth; we just do it out of habit. We don't spend hours anticipating the act or even thinking about it at all. It just gets done.
The reward is whatever helps trigger that "muscle memory" or Pavlovian response. In classical conditioning, animals (or humans) are given a cue to perform a task and then rewarded with a treat. Eventually, just the presence of the cue will trigger a response. Whether it's a habit in budget keeping, exercise, or even dental hygiene, a reward is a mandatory part of the process. Good habits produce good results. In our teeth-brushing example, the reward is a clean mouth, a lower dental bill, lack of mouth pain, and maybe even the fact that you'd rather avoid a lecture from your dental hygienist.
The routine is simply putting the cue, the act, and the reward together. Once you combine these three components -- (1) My mouth feels mucky; (2) I brush my teeth; (3) my mouth feels better -- you have the recipe for a good habit.
But here's the cool part, and the big reason creating good habits matters so much: Habits, once established, use a different part of our brain. We don't have to think about them; we just do them, and they don't drain our mental energy. Thus, the more good habits we can create, the more productive, happier and successful we can become. When it comes to keeping our homes tidy and free of clutter, taking the time to develop good habits can literally be the difference between chaos and calm. For the next four weeks, why not work on incorporating these ten tidy habits into your daily routine? They might just change everything.
- Make your bed (time commitment: 2 minutes). What else can you do in just a minute or two that will completely transform your entire room? It doesn't really matter how messy the rest of the room happens to be; when the bed is made, your bedroom looks tidy. Simplify the task by choosing fuss-free bedding that is easy to straighten and by eliminating decorative pillows or throws.
The following is an excerpt from Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup. Copyright 2016 by Ruth Soukup. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more