Have you ever had the desire to create a new habit but you find yourself forgetting to perform the activity or finding any other excuse not to complete it? Habit stacking may make creating new habits easier to implement into your daily schedule.
The idea of habit stacking comes from Atomic Habits author, James Clear who explains just why it works for our adult brains that can be "set in their ways". According to Clear, habit stacking is effective because of a process in our brains called synaptic pruning. "Synapses are connections between the neurons in your brain. The basic idea is that your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don't get used and builds up connections that get used more frequently," says Clear. He continues, "Synaptic pruning occurs with every habit you build. As we've covered, your brain builds a strong network of neurons to support your current behaviors. The more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes."
So how does synaptic pruning tie into habit stacking? When utilizing habit stacking to form a new habit, you'll want to stack whatever your desired new habit is onto a habit that you're already doing frequently (one that has strong synaptic connections in your brain) . For example, if your desired new habit is meditation in the morning and you already brush your teeth each morning, your goal would simply be that every morning after you set your toothbrush down after completing that habit, you will immediately find a place to sit down and meditate for 5 minutes.
Having your desired new habit scheduled into your current daily routine on top of another habit eliminates many of the common excuses that we allow ourselves when trying to start a new habit and allows for consistency to build that strong synaptic connection.
Until next time,