There’s something exciting that came out of neuroscience a while ago and that is the subject of neuroplasticity. Here is a definition :
Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, describes how experiences reorganize neural pathways in the brain. Long lasting functional changes in the brain occur when we learn new things or memorize new information. These changes in neural connections are what we call neuroplasticity. (src)
As we have found out, our brain is fundamentally changing all the time. Every new experience or unknown circumstance earns a reaction from the brain. That reaction affects the brain and physically changes the pathways or circuits which lay inside.
I am by no means an expert on the subject, but this top-level description does provide us with an important insight in the nature vs nurture debate. No matter what has happened to us, no matter how grave, if we train ourselves to act appropriately, we will affect our pathways and build new highways to effective living. Sure some of us had it easier, some of us were brought up into the world with pathways that didn’t need changing, but blaming our childhoods or our previous self is not an attitude that will get us where we want to be.
I started being very aware of small actions I was taking daily. Whenever I would go on Reddit to look at pictures I was re-enforcing that experience, making it stronger and stronger. In the same way, I noticed how I complained in the morning after waking up. It was a daily action I was taking. Here again, the pathways were reinforced.
Today I got rid of a bunch of habits that were invalidating me. Whenever I see myself doing something that will wake the judge in me at a later time I ask myself : “Do I want to reinforce that path?”. The answer is usually no.
That’s how I stopped playing videos game in my late teens. That’s also how I stopped procrastinating and indulging in mindless reddit/imgur/facebook browsing in college. None of these are bad, but if you personally want to get a habit out of your life, then pay attention to all those small actions that reinforce the habit and in turn, the brains pathways.