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  • I want to show you guys a picture.

  • This was my fridge in my freshman dorm room.

  • It looks terrible, I know.

  • For most of college and for a lot of high school

  • I had a terrible addiction to energy drinks and sodas.

  • Monsters, Red Bulls, Nos's and I knew

  • it was unhealthy for me.

  • In fact at one point I remember tweeting out

  • something about needing help quitting these things

  • and somebody replied, "Have fun with that irregular

  • heartbeat in 10 years dude".

  • That stuck with me.

  • But not enough for me to quit.

  • For a long time I would try and fail again and again.

  • It was always this just one more time excuse

  • that would come up.

  • Maybe there was a homework assignment

  • that I had to do late at night

  • so I would head to the library cafe

  • and pick one up and settle in

  • for a study session.

  • Or maybe sometimes I'd just go

  • to the convenience store with my friends

  • and now they're six inches away

  • and my willpower failed me.

  • So long story short, this was one

  • of my worst habits and it took me years

  • to finally beat it.

  • But eventually I did and now it has been

  • about five years since I have had

  • any kind of energy drink whatsoever.

  • I rarely drink regular soda at all as well.

  • Today guys what I want to talk about

  • is how to break those bad habits.

  • Regardless of whatever the habit is,

  • whether it's drinking one too many sody pops like me

  • or playing too many video games when

  • you should be studying or just compulsively

  • biting your nails, you have the ability

  • to break those bad habits as long

  • as you take the challenge seriously.

  • As Aristotle said over 2,000 years ago

  • with some admittedly weird grammar

  • in the English translation, "What it lies

  • in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do".

  • But before we dive into the actual tactics

  • and strategies here, it's useful

  • to ask the question, what exactly is a bad habit.

  • In Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit,

  • he defines a habit in general as

  • an ingrained pattern of behavior that has three stages.

  • There is the cue, whatever triggers the habit in your mind.

  • The routine, the pattern of behavior,

  • the actions that you take to get the reward,

  • the final part.

  • He also mentions that once a habit

  • becomes truly, deeply rooted and ingrained,

  • you've gone through it several times,

  • a fourth component also comes into the equation

  • and that's craving.

  • When the cue is triggered in your mind

  • there is an intense craving for that reward.

  • It's important to understand this.

  • Every habit has a reward.

  • Otherwise you wouldn't do it.

  • Essentially a bad habit is really

  • any habit that stands in opposition

  • to your long term goals, be it living

  • a healthy life, or maintaining good relationships,

  • or earning straight A's.

  • The reason that these bad habits stick around

  • for so long is because they are ingrained

  • but almost always they are habits

  • that lead to short term rewards.

  • Your brain is hard wired to care a lot

  • more about the short term than your long term goals

  • even though logically you know those long term goals

  • are more important.

  • Essentially you're acting against

  • your own self interests.

  • In fact there's a term that originates

  • in ancient Greece for this called akraisia.

  • If you want to be able to beat that akraisia,

  • if you want to be able to beat that short term focused

  • programming deep inside your brain,

  • you need to have a clear, well-defined

  • and compelling reason for breaking that bad habit.

  • In one of his private journals Bruce Lee once wrote,

  • "I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind

  • will eventually reproduce themselves

  • in outward, physical action, and gradually transform

  • themselves into physical reality,

  • therefore I will concentrate my thoughts

  • for 30 minutes daily upon the task

  • of thinking of the person I intend to become,

  • thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture".

  • For Bruce Lee that compelling reason,

  • that motivation came through intense meditation

  • and visualization.

  • But you can also create a real physical reminder

  • of why you're trying to break that habit as well.

  • That's actually what I did.

  • Out of all the reasons I had for stopping my addiction

  • to energy drinks, the main one was my face.

  • Because for most of high school

  • and for a lot of college I had horrible acne.

  • My complexion was basically the dark side of the moon

  • and it wrecked my self confidence.

  • It was bad enough that I would wake up pretty much

  • every day with blood stains on my pillow case and my sheets.

  • I really wanted to fix this problem.

  • I would spend hours researching online,

  • trying to find remedies and fixes

  • and trying to figure out what the causes were

  • but eventually I realized what I

  • had basically known all along,

  • which is that sugar, especially sugary energy drinks

  • and soda, were a huge cause of break outs.

  • One day I decided to crystallize this reason

  • in physical form.

  • I actually went into Photoshop.

  • I took a picture of myself

  • and I used the clone tool to create

  • a Photoshopped version of that picture.

  • Basically an idealized version

  • of what I wanted to look like some day.

  • I put that on my phone and every time

  • I would get a craving to go buy a Monster

  • or buy a Red Bull, I would look at that picture

  • and I knew if I gave into that craving

  • I was pushing that reality further and further

  • into the future.

  • That did help immensely, but of course

  • it was still tough to resist those cravings.

  • One additional thing that really helped me

  • to stave them off was actually replacing

  • energy drinks and soda with something different

  • that still gave me a very similar reward.

  • That's actually the second tip here.

  • If you can find a different routine

  • that replaces the reward with something similar

  • then you can replace the habit

  • with something more productive.

  • This is actually something Charles Duhigg

  • talks about in the Power of Habit.

  • For me, I replaced my energy drink addiction

  • and my soda addiction in part with sparkling drinks

  • La Croix, Topo Chico, San Pellegreno,

  • because I realized it wasn't necessarily

  • the taste of the drinks that I was addicted to,

  • it wasn't even necessarily the caffeine,

  • it was just the novelty of having

  • that cool can on the desk and having

  • some good tasting drink while I did

  • my boring homework.

  • I asked myself, is there something else

  • where I can get a similar, if not exact same benefit.

  • When my girlfriend actually introduced me

  • to La Croix, which is like a lemon flavored one,

  • I was like this doesn't taste the same,

  • but it's carbonated, it's in a can,

  • it's got a bit of novelty to it,

  • so it kind of replaced soda in that habit.

  • My experience is actually pretty similar

  • to the author The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg,

  • because at one point he found himself

  • in a bad habit where he would go every single day

  • and buy a cookie.

  • He asked himself, this is not healthy for me,

  • why am I doing this.

  • Is it because it tastes good?

  • Is it because I need the sugar

  • because it's the afternoon?

  • Or is it something else?

  • Eventually he realized the real reason

  • that he was getting up every single day,

  • leaving his desk and going to buy a cookie,

  • is that it gave him an excuse to take

  • a bit of a break and socialize with his coworkers.

  • That was really the reward.

  • Sometimes you have to dig in to figure out

  • what's the actual reward I'm getting

  • from this habit and are there several rewards

  • and if so, is there a primary one

  • that I can find a way to replace

  • with a healthier behavior.

  • Another crucial step you need to take

  • from breaking a bad habit is to remove

  • as much access to that habit as you possibly can.

  • In The Odyssey when Odysseus and his men

  • are sailing past the island of the sirens

  • he actually has his men bind him to the ship's mast

  • with ropes and then put bees wax in their own ears,

  • that way they can't hear the sirens song

  • at all and he can still hear to navigate the ship,

  • but he won't be able to give in to the temptation.

  • Because Odysseus knew when he was removed

  • from that temptation, he was able to think rationally

  • and logically and he had enough willpower

  • to set up a pre commitment which made it so

  • that when his willpower failed in the face of temptation,

  • he was unable to give in to it anyway.

  • Use this tactic when you're trying

  • to break your own bad habits.

  • I do this as well.

  • I actually have a pretty bad habit

  • of looking at analytics on Youtube

  • or social media sites like Twitter or Facebook

  • when I should be writing.

  • I actually have a program that completely blocks

  • all access to those sites basically binding

  • me to doing my writing and making

  • it completely impossible for me

  • to go distract myself.

  • Essentially if I have no access

  • to that habit, I'm not going to be

  • able to give in to it.

  • Lastly, if you find the prospect of going completely

  • cold turkey and quitting your bad habit forever daunting,

  • try a 30 day challenge.

  • I find this to be useful because a lot

  • of people can't moderate their bad habits.

  • They can't say I'm just gonna do this

  • every once in awhile as a treat.

  • They have to give it up.

  • But, thinking about giving it up forever,

  • especially when it's a fun habit like playing video games

  • or having the occasional soda is kind of daunting,

  • it kind of sucks.

  • But, anybody and I mean anybody,

  • can do a 30 day challenge.

  • Abstaining from that thing for just 30 days.

  • The way that I do this is I create a Google sheet

  • and I give the URL to my friend Martin.

  • Everyday I will go in, I will log my progress

  • and I tell him, check on my progress

  • and if I fail even once, I'm gonna give you $100.

  • I don't want to fail, it will hurt my pride,

  • it will hurt my wallet and I know

  • I've got somebody invested in my success

  • who is gonna keep me accountable.

  • Hey, it's just for 30 days.

  • Again, anybody can do it.

  • All right, so quick recap here.

  • If you want to break a bad habit,

  • number one, have a compelling, crystallized,

  • well defined reason in your mind

  • for why you want to break it and try

  • to create a physical reminder of that reason.

  • Number two, what was number two? (laughing)

  • I don't know what it was.

  • Number two, identify the reward