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  • I've always been a dedicated and compliant tooth brusher, but I was never really encouraged to floss.

  • A few years ago, I went to see my dentist, and he said to me, "Listen, your teeth are fine but you need to start flossing."

  • Okay, I said, "No problem, how hard can flossing be?"

  • I got all the kits, I bought all the tape, the sticks, everything.

  • Day one, I did it, day two, I did it.

  • Day three, I didn't do it.

  • And then the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, and I was back at my dentist.

  • Again, he told me I needed to floss.

  • Some nights I did, some nights I didn't, there were so many excuses.

  • I'm tired, it's boring.

  • I'm going to punch myself in the face again by accident.

  • But now I'm a dedicated flosser.

  • So what changed?

  • Sean Covey, author of the best-selling book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" once said...

  • "Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us."

  • "We become what we repeatedly do."

  • Some of these habits are helpful and healthy, and some not so good.

  • But what they all have in common is that we're unaware we're doing them because they become automatic and repetitive.

  • Our habits combine like steps on a journey in life.

  • They determine our direction, and that's pretty scary considering most of the time we're not really consciously in control of them.

  • So why are habits so difficult to break, and new ones so difficult to make?

  • Neuroscience tells us our brains set up things called habit loops.

  • These habit loops consist of three stages.

  • Stage one is a cue.

  • This is a trigger, it could be from your external environment or your internal environment.

  • For example, your emotional state.

  • Stage two is a routine behaviour.

  • It's the action you take in response to that cue.

  • Stage three is the reward, so the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure.

  • Because you've had that release of dopamine which has made you feel good, you're more likely to repeat that behaviour in response to the cue next time.

  • And that's why a habit is hard to break and hard to make, because those neural connections are strong.

  • But the good news is nothing's set in stone.

  • Breaking old habits and making new ones can be done, but it takes an extraordinary amount of self-awareness and effort.

  • So here are some top tips to help you through it and it may even save your gums at the same time.

  • It worked for me.

  • Tip one, find your motivation.

  • Why do you want to change, what are the benefits?

  • What are the repercussions if you don't change that habit?

  • And do you want those repercussions?

  • Write them down and read them often.

  • Tip two, be specific.

  • What exactly do you want to achieve and how are you going to do it?

  • Make space and time in your diary to put the effort towards changing that habit.

  • Take practical steps that will help you break that cycle of cue and response.

  • Tip three, small steps are better than giant leaps.

  • Try the "1% idea" where each day you improve or change something by 1%.

  • That way you start to see progress, and you're not put off by failure.

  • Tip four, don't stop when you're on a roll and celebrate your success.

  • Keep the momentum of that new habit going, however small it is.

  • The continuous nature of changing something about your behaviour will signal to your brain that this is an important change and one that you need to continue.

  • Chart your progress and celebrate your achievements with a treat, so you still get that dopamine hit.

  • Tip five, be patient.

  • A study in 2009 showed that on average, it takes 66 days to form a new habit.

  • With some easier habits being formed in 18 days, and some harder ones being formed in 254 days.

  • So changing habits can change your life.

  • I think that once you notice a habit is unhelpful and you know why you want to change it, then really, the rest is a piece of cake.

  • So good luck, go forth and break some habits.

  • Thanks for watching.

  • Don't forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos.

  • See you again soon!

I've always been a dedicated and compliant tooth brusher, but I was never really encouraged to floss.

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A2 UK cue dopamine behaviour break floss dentist

Five tips to get a new habit to stick | BBC Ideas

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    Annie Chien posted on 2020/02/23
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