The Habit Loop is sort of like a computer program — a very simple one, albeit — consisting of three parts:
- Cue. According to Duhigg, a cue is “a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.” For the mice in the MIT experiment, the cue was a “click” sound; for us a cue could be “sitting down at the computer,” or “boredom,” or “lunch time.”
- Routine. The routine is the activity that you perform almost automatically after you encounter the cue. A routine can be physical, mental, or emotional.
- Reward. The reward is what helps our “brain figure out if [a] particular loop is worth remembering for the future.” A reward can be anything. For the mice in the MIT experiment the reward was chocolate. For us it could be the feeling we get after eating a Five Guys burger or smoking a cigarette.