Why habits become persistent

Neuroscience now reveals that when we start to practice new habits, two things are released: biologically, the feel-good reward chemical dopamine and psychologically, a sense of certainty. In a double-loop reinforcing spiral, dopamine and certainty release each other and strengthen the growth of new habits. This dynamic is multiplied by having a meaningful why for any new habit we create.

When we are not particularly stressed, our brain has a bias for new habits, activating them more quickly than old habits. When we’re stressed, our brain defaults to old habits. And so the vital importance of sustaining a sense of presence in any ways we can, including mindfulness practices. 

The good news here is that old habits literally never die, they just become irrelevant as our brain prefers new habits. All we need is to grow the habits we want.