Today on the podcast:

Dr. Jud is a New York Times best-selling author, neuroscientist, addiction psychiatrist, and thought leader in the field of habit change.

He is the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, where he also serves as an associate professor at the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine at Brown University.

He is the executive medical director of behavioural health at Sharecare.inc and a research affiliate at MIT.

Dr. Jud has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety.

He is the author of The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits and Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind.

Episode Outline

  • 02:58 Dr. Jud’s backstory
  • 04:17 Why anxiety has gone viral and is so prominent at the minute
  • 06:52 Anxiety as a habit loop
  • 09:08 Defining “habit loops”
  • 13:04 How habit loops impact emotional eating patterns
  • 20:44 How closely related the habit loop of anxiety is to cravings
  • 22:55 Worry is a behavior; anxiety is a feeling – and why it’s so important not to confuse the two
  • 29:26 Why your previous anti-anxiety (and Anti-habit) strategies failed
  • 36:01 How your brain makes decisions (why we prefer cake to broccoli)
  • 37:56 Hedonic hunger and managing your cravings
  • 39:44 How long it takes to change a habit
  • 46:42 Why Dr. Jud changed his mind regarding efficacy of willpower

Key Points

  • Asking yourself “why” they are anxious actually drives you in the wrong direction when it comes to breaking that habit loop. Rather, it is the “what” which helps you step out of the habit. Once you start noticing the what, your newfound perspective can help you map out your habit loops and then work with the anxiety itself, rather than wasting your energy with the why.
  • Curiosity kills cravings. Once you’ve mapped out your craving, you realize that 1) it is merely a physical sensation; 2) those sensations constantly change; and 3) you don’t need to act on that craving for it to go away. Cravings may seem like they will last forever, but once you stop and get curious, you are empowered to be with the craving instead of trying to suppress it. Don’t try to make them go away. Instead, watch them come and go.
  • Shift from willpower to curiosity—from brute force to kindness. Instead of continually beating your head against the wall, look for the door. That door leads to understanding how your body and mind works.

Powerful Quotes by Dr. Jud

  • There is a big difference between planning and worrying about the future.
  • Our brains work based on how rewarding a behaviour is. […] The only way to change your behaviour is to pay attention.
  • Anxiety triggers the mental behaviour of worrying.
  • There’s nothing wrong with getting information. It’s implementing that information that people get stuck on.
  • Willpower is more myth than muscle.
  • Our thinking brains don’t hold a candle to our feeling bodies.

Guest Info

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