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Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the link between mindfulness and addiction, from smoking to overeating and all the other things we do even though we know we do not benefit from it. Learn more about the mechanisms behind how bad habits are formed, and learn a technique that can help you break the addiction.

 Image: Screenshot from the video, TED Talks



This is how the lecture is introduced on Ted Talks' website, where the lecture from Judson Brewer is freely available. 

He refers to many unsuccessful attempts where people try to "force themselves" to break a habit, such as quitting smoking, by using various forms of mindfulness techniques.

What if we became really curious about our immediate experience, the psychiatrist asks.





He uses the following example:

One smoker was asked to be really curious about how it is experienced to smoke, i.e. to really feel the experience "here and now". The smoker came to the following realization:

Well, it smells like cheese and tastes like chemicals, blah!





According to Judson Brewer, this was the start of a real chance to quit smoking. 

The psychiatrist points out that it was an emotional experience for the smoker, in contrast to the cognitive (mental) experience she had before, which said that "Yes, I know that smoking is not good for me." 

There is no magic cure, the psychiatrist emphasizes. The habits will not necessarily just evaporate in this way, but by including the emotions and the immediate experience in the face of the bad habit, one can without having to try to "force oneself" end up ... letting go of it.

Here you can see the whole lecture.

 

Here you can see the video lecture

 

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