Judson Brewer is a psychiatrist and addiction expert. The TED talk, which you can watch below, was aimed more at breaking a habit like smoking or eating, but I believe it can work with other habits such as slouching at your desk. In the talk, Judson talked about mindfulness training and simply being curiously aware. What does this mean? Judson discussed how he has people who are trying to quit smoking actually go and have a cigarette but be really mindful of what they are feeling, smelling, tasting etc. He found that these people realize that it may not actually taste nice, they may feel shunned by having to go outside and the smell may not be appealing either. Once you are more mindful of the effects of the habit, you can become disenchanted with it and stopping it can become easier. This is exactly what he has found. This process helps you gain cognitive control over the habit. Simply forcing yourself to stop or change often fails, if you gain this cognitive control of the habit, changing it can be easier.
How does this apply to other habits?
I believe that if you use this process of being curiously aware when you are sitting poorly or lifting heavy things, you will soon realize how important it is to try to change them. Let’s take for example slouching at your desk in front of the computer. We all know that it is not a good idea, but when you actually FEEL what it is doing, it will make the decision to change it easier.
Sit in a slouched position and actually think and be mindful about what it feels like. Can you feel the tension across your shoulder and upper back? Can you feel the muscles tightening in the upper neck? Take a deep breath and feel how in a slouched position you can’t actually take a big full breath. From the slouched position see how far you can lift your arms up in front of you towards the roof.
Now sit up straight with the shoulders back and core on and chin tucked and feel that tension go from the upper back, take a deep breath and see how different it feels. Raise your arms in front of you towards the roof and see how much more motion is available. Suddenly the benefits of sitting up "properly" become more obvious. You will likely not be able to hold this position for a while but that is what takes time. The more cognitive control you have of the problem, the better the chance of changing it will be.
Try this simple tip of being curiously aware for other bad habits and see if it can help you change them. I would suggest you listen to the TED talk below (its only 9min) and see what else Judson Brewer said. I am sure you will get benefit from it.