Changing bad habits with Mindfulness according to Judson Brewer

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Judson Brewer, a leading mindfulness specialist at Brown University, offers a fresh approach to addressing and overcoming some of the most common mental and physical health challenges in today’s society.

Why does willpower fail? The Mindfulness Response

The traditional notion of willpower, that internal capacity that drives us to resist temptations and stay on the right path, often crumbles in the face of contemporary challenges. Why is this happening? Brewer, with his vast experience in the study of mindfulness applied to the treatment of anxiety and addictions, argues that the key lies in attention and curiosity.

The conventional understanding of willpower is that it is a limited reserve that depletes with use. In contrast, mindfulness proposes a mindfulness approach. By being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, we can recognize and address the underlying causes of our undesired behaviors.

The Impact of Social Networks on Mental Health

Social networks, those digital giants that dominate so much of our time and attention, present a unique set of challenges. Designed to capture and hold our attention, they often become a source of constant distraction. This inordinate consumption can lead to social comparison, the need for external validation and an endless search for exciting stimuli.

Brewer highlights how this dynamic can be detrimental, especially in terms of concentration and anxiety. For example, the constant need to check our social networks, waiting for that “like” or comment, is likened to a reward cycle similar to addictive behavior.

In addition, the constant bombardment of information and comparison to idealized lives can cultivate feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and ultimately anxiety.

The Mindfulness Solution

To counteract these negative effects, Brewer proposes a regular mindfulness practice. By learning to observe our thoughts, emotions and behaviors without judgment, we can develop a healthier relationship with social networks and our own self-image.

Unraveling Addictions

Beyond social networks, addictions present another major challenge. Whether it is food, gambling or even seemingly innocuous behaviors, addictions often arise from repetitive patterns of behavior reinforced by temporary rewards.

Every time we give in to a craving or place a bet, for example, our brain receives a rush of pleasurable neurotransmitters. However, over time, a higher “dose” is needed to achieve the same effect, leading to a cycle of compulsive repetition.

Mindfulness in Rescue

Brewer suggests that mindfulness can be a vital tool in the fight against addiction. Through mindfulness, it is possible to recognize what attracts us to a habit and how we can change it.

The practice of mindfulness helps us to:

  1. Be aware of the problem: Recognizing and accepting our addiction is the first essential step for any positive change.
  2. Breaking the automatic cycle: Identifying and resisting triggers that incite addictive behaviors.
  3. Reduce stress: By reducing the reaction to stress, we reduce the need to resort to addictive behaviors as a coping mechanism.

Anxiety: The Contemporary Challenge

Anxiety, which affects millions globally, is another area where mindfulness shows promise. While medication has traditionally been an option for many, Brewer points out how mindfulness can work in conjunction with traditional medical treatments to treat anxiety on a biochemical as well as cognitive and emotional level.

Obesity, Stress and Anxiety: A Comprehensive Approach

Stress and anxiety are intrinsically linked to obesity. People often turn to food as a form of emotional comfort, leading to a vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain. Brewer posits that by addressing the emotional roots of overeating, a healthier relationship with food can be established.


In a world full of distractions, temptations and emotional challenges, Judson Brewer’s teachings on mindfulness offer a compass for successful navigation. Through mindfulness, understanding and curiosity, it is possible to overcome challenges, establish healthy habits and lead a more balanced life.

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