Definition of habit

Definition of Habit

What is a habit

The term habit refers to a routine or pattern of behaviour that is repeated on a regular basis and tends to be subconscious in nature. In this article, we will look at the definition of habit and also explain the process of building habits.

Basically, it is the result of repeated experiences that have shaped a person’s thinking, emotions, or actions.

The process of habit building

The process of building habits can be broken down into four simple stages:

  1. Cues/signs,
  2. Cravings/desires,
  3. Response/reaction, and
  4. Rewards

This four-step process is the backbone of any habit, and your brain goes through these steps in the same order each time.

  1. First, there are the signs or cues that signal/prompts your brain to initiate action. Our prehistoric ancestors paid attention to symbols that indicated where great rewards were obtained such as food, water, and sex. Today, we spend most of our time studying things that predict secondary rewards such as money and fame, power and status, praise and approval, love and friendship, or feelings of self-satisfaction. (Of course, these activities also increase our chances of survival and reproduction, which is the main reason for everything we do.)


Your mind is constantly scanning your internal and external environment for clues about where the reward lies. Because the signal is the first thing that shows that we are close to the reward, it leads to desires or cravings.


  1. Desires are the second level of habit formation, and they are the driving force behind every action. There is no point in taking action if we do not have a level of motivation or desire. What you dream about is not the habit itself but the change of state it brings about. For instance You don’t like smoking; you just crave the comfort it brings. It’s not brushing your teeth that motivates you but the feeling of a clean mouth. You turn on the TV because you want to be entertained.

Each desire is associated with a desire to change your inner state. Desires vary from person to person. In theory, any piece of information can trigger desires, but in practice, people are not motivated in the same way. For a gambler, the sound of a slot machine can be a stimulant that incites a high level of desire. For the non-gamer, casino jingles and chimes are just background noise. Interpretation is the key to understanding cues. What transforms a cue into a craving is the observer’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions.


  1. The third step is response/reaction. Your response, which may be a thought or an action, is what you actually do as a result of your cravings. Motivation and friction are important factors in determining whether a response occurs. It is unlikely that you will perform an action if it takes too much physical or mental effort. Your reaction also depends on your ability. It seems simple, but you can only start a habit if you can do it. Finally, your response and reactions lead to rewards.


  1. Reward is the ultimate goal of any habit.   Every habit aims to achieve rewards.  We seek rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) to satisfy us and (2) they teach us. The main purpose of the reward is to satisfy your hunger. Yes, the rewards provide value on their own. Food and water provide the energy you need to survive. Money and respect increase when you get a promotion. Your health and dating prospects will improve if you get in shape. But the most immediate benefit is that the reward satisfies your hunger to eat or get status or get approval. At least temporarily, rewards provide satisfaction and relief from cravings.


Furthermore, rewards teach us behaviours that are worth remembering in the future. Your brain is a reward detector. Throughout your life, your nervous system is constantly searching for habits that satisfy your desires and bring happiness. Feelings of happiness and disappointment are part of a feedback loop that helps your brain distinguish between worthwhile and worthless habits. Reward closes the feedback loop and completes the cycle of habits. If the act is not limited to one of the four methods, it will not be possible. Remove your mark and actions will not start. Reduce that hunger and you won’t have enough motivation to act. Make the practice difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward doesn’t fulfil your desire, you will have no reason to do it again in the future.


This four-step process is not something that happens once in a while, but it is a never-ending feedback loop that works and works every moment of your life, even now. This is because the brain is constantly analysing the environment, predicting what will happen in the future, trying different responses, and learning from the results.

This process is completed in less than a second, and we use it repeatedly without knowing everything that has been collected in the past. Without the first three steps, no behaviour will take place. Without all four stages, behaviours will likely not be repeated.


We can divide these four parts into two parts: the problem part and the solution part. The problem process includes signs and stimuli, and that’s when you realize that something needs to change. The solution process involves feedback and reward, and it’s when you take action and get the change you want. The desire to solve problems drives all behaviours. Sometimes, the problem is that you see something good and want to get it. Sometimes, the problem is that you are in pain and want to stop it. Either way, the purpose of each behaviour is to solve the problems you are facing.

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