So how does one define a “bad” habit, and what qualities separate those from “good” habits? In most cases, the distinction is obvious. A habit is a “bad” habit if:
- It is destructive, harmful or poses a short or long-term danger to you or somebody else.
- It negatively impacts your self-esteem, the way others view you, and your overall reputation as a good or bad person.
- Is a pattern of undesirable behavior acquired through frequent repetition.
Habits are observable. Wearable tech and machine learning pose incredible opportunities for those looking to improve their quality of life, to get real time help.
A single bad habit can act as a magnet to others. People who smoke often tend to drink. People who drink sometimes use profanity or are rude to other people. People who are rude and profanity might hang out at casinos or horseracing tracks. People who gamble may be more likely to frequent prostitutes or take drugs. Soon, something that started out as a quirk or a one-off has escalated into a lifestyle that is self-destructive, damages your reputation and ultimately can ruin your career, your family life, your health and even end your life.
Examples of Bad Habits Where Tech Could Help
Habits are observable and occur in patterns. Both hardware and software solutions have the ability to gather data from physical and social activity to identify risk and prompt incentives to assess it. The opportunities are incredibly exciting.
- Habits related to excessive consumption (food, sugar, alcohol, smoking, media, etc.
- Habits related to financial decisions (savings, investments, consumption, etc.)
- Habits related to productivity (leisure time, focus time, email time, etc.)
- Habits related to a desired mindset (media consumption, relationships, places, etc.)
There is, of course, an important line to be drawn between consciously planning to build habits and suffering from addiction. The liability is different and the implications could be significant. However, there have been considerable investments made in ai assisted healthcare technology. Here are a few:
Woebot Health: a robot that helps you improve your mental health
Prospection: technology to improve health outcomes by enabling evidence-based decision making
Huma: remote patient management solution
Kintsugi: this ai powered tool could detect depression from the sound of your voice
Our Need for Habitual Behavior, Habits and Beliefs
Habits are not only useful, but we actually rely on our routines to function in our daily lives. Physiologists tell us that of the 11,000 signals we receive from our senses, our brain only consciously processes about 40. So our brains use the rote familiarity of habits so that we can focus on other “higher value” activities.
Things like walking, chewing our food, and talking don’t require the kind of mental focus that solving math problems or playing video games do. These activities we take for granted are actually habits we have developed that are performed without conscious intent.
Social habits work the same way. Most people will take a shower at the same time every day or always drive the same route to work. These habits are performed essentially without conscious thought. Negative habits – like overeating, smoking or driving too fast – work the same way. We rarely think about these things, even when they are putting us in danger or damaging our health or well-being.
Stay tuned for more.
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