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Why it's hard to break bad habits

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Ori Schnaider

 You know what is really annoying? Doing the same thing wrong, over and over again. You keep telling yourself to not do it, but you do it anyway.

Some things that I tend to do are:

  • I get something from upstairs, then go downstairs, then remember to get something from upstairs, and vice versa, over and over again.
  • Every day, I’m supposed to go into the garage, get a water bottle for school and put it in my backpack. Either that, or if I have my bottle from the current school day, I have to fill it up. And every day, I forget it.
  • Before I use my iPad, I remind myself to listen to at least one song, but I almost always do not.

Really annoying, right?

Now, I’m going to explain why we keep making these mistakes. Scientific studies show that when we do something, we create a neural pathway in our brains. When we do something right, one is created. Unfortunately, the same thing happens when we do something wrong. We create habits like this, good and bad.

In simpler terms, the reason we are constantly doing something wrong is because sometimes we go down a pathway that already exists. This probably doesn’t make sense either, so I’ll put it in even simpler words.

It’s kind of like a maze. If you go down the wrong path, you turn around and try to find the right way. Eventually, you’ll end up going down the same path again.

Maria Lennon and Erica Schultheis’ writing club, Candlewood Middle School, Dix Hills

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