Which habits are most harmful to happiness?

Get out of the habitual trap +++ updated +++

Some habits help us survive in everyday life. Others are harmful to our health or prevent us from achieving new goals. In stressful situations such as the corona pandemic, we tend to fall back on the "tried and tested channels". The teaching materials - with suggestions for hybrid teaching - explain the brain-physiological relationships behind such habitual actions. With the knowledge of the "power of their own" in their brain, the students learn to reprogram it in a targeted manner.


Professional competence
The students

  • recognize on the basis of the Stroop test that trained actions in our brain run almost automatically
  • understand which brain physiological processes are decisive in the formation of habits
  • use a case study to develop strategies to escape the habitual trap

Methodological competence
The students

  • recognize helpful, but also harmful habits through guided self-observation
  • develop concrete ways out of their personal trap of habit
  • create a video clip or an e-book

Social skills
The students

  • deal with personal goals
  • reflect on how to successfully circumvent obstacles on the way to the goal
  • expand their communication and presentation skills

Didactic-methodological comment

Many students do not realize enough that the body has its own power that goes against their voluntary control projects. Many of them have a tendency to constantly criticize themselves internally, for example that they “still haven't” got rid of a harmful habit. However, with the help of these teaching materials, they can see through how their bodies work. Knowing about the mechanisms of habit formation relieves the burden and opens the door for change. With this knowledge of their own body and self-observation tasks, the students finally work out specific ways out of their personal habitual trap - whether with procrastination or the thoughtless use of alcohol and nicotine or other activities with addictive potential.

The complete didactic-methodological commentary for download:

Background information for the teacher

  • Human motivational systems
  • Energy saving patterns of the brain
  • The role of emotions in habit formation
  • Strategies for Avoiding Bad Habits and Building Useful Habits
  • Carrot and stick

The complete background information for download:

Teaching materials

Media list

  • Practice book mindfulness in school. Self-regulation and relationship skills as the basis of education
    Introduction to Vera Kaltwassers curriculum AISCHU - "Mindfulness in School". With numerous exercises, stories and tasks for the class. From Vera Kaltwasser. Beltz, Weinheim 2016
  • Mindfulness in school. Silent islands in the classroom: relaxation and concentration
    Teaching aid for elementary and secondary levels, with a concept and exercises for self-perception and improving children's self-efficacy. From Vera Kaltwasser. Beltz, Weinheim 2013
  • Always the same
    Teaching materials with audio files, worksheets and specific reference to the learning plan on the subject of “habit” can be downloaded free of charge from Bayern2
  • force of habit
    Article by Katrin Ewert on planet-wissen.de about routines that also determine thinking and feeling
  • Do it differently!
    Portfolio of Zeit online with six articles on aspects of psychology in habits. From Katrin stuff
  • Do it differently! From the habitual trap to the new happiness of wellbeing
    An invitation to sift through your own everyday routines, find excuses and try out strategies to avoid habitual traps. By Beate Handler, Goldeff, Berlin 2016
  • Concentrate! A guide to modern life
    Psychologist Daniel Goleman shows strategies that concentration skills can be used to be successful and satisfied in life. By Daniel Goleman. Piper, Munich 2014


  • Why our brain loves routines
    Short animation video that explains why habits help us in everyday life and how actions in our brain become habits, 02:03 min. To convey complex topics in a student-oriented manner. By Joachim Traub, Auer Verlag, Augsburg 2017
  • Change Bad Habits? The power of habit - Charles Duhigg / 5 ideas
    Explanatory video for the contents of the book "The power of habit: Why we do what we do", 9:15 min.
  • Forming bad habits on your own!
    Compilation of the most interesting fundamental aspects of neuroplasticity from the documentation "A new start in the head - how our brain repairs itself" by Arte, 8:58 min.