What is a habit, beyond the dictionary kind of definition? According to Duhigg, it’s a loop of cue, routine, and reward, a loop that if repeated ossifies into “a powerful sense of anticipation and craving.” The brain automates. By understanding this loop, Duhigg insists, “you can fiddle with the gears.” Early on in the book, he specifically mentions two areas of habit close to my heart:
This explains why it’s so hard to create exercise habits, for instance, or change what we eat. Once we develop a routine of sitting on the couch, rather than running, or snacking whenever we pass a doughnut box, those patterns always remain inside our heads. By the same rule, though, if we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors—if we take control of the habit loop—we can force those bad tendencies into the background . . .
Over the decades, I’ve exercised reasonably regularly, but never, repeat, never habitually. Will my Jogging Big Year instil a genuine habit? I’m hopeful.