Despite their power, habits are easy to overlook on any given day. Making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse seems insignificant. We have trouble understanding how our daily actions compound and get disappointed when we don't enjoy linear results.
The human mind seems to have a tendency to get emotional over every peak and valley, but the power of habits is realized in the long-run. It is a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.
Modern society is filled with life hacks, shortcuts, optimizations, supplements, and get-rich-quick schemes. All in an effort to achieve more. But in the long-run, mastering your habits is perhaps the most realistic and reasonable superpower in life.
Developing a deep understanding of the fundamentals of habits and human behavior gives you an edge at work, in relationships, when investing, and in daily life because it is one of the few, reliable factors in a rapidly changing world.
True behavior change is identity change. When your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be.
In Chapter 2, I refer to this strategy as "identity-based habits." Start with the type of person you want to become and then build small habits that reinforce that identity.
To better understand how a habit works and how to improve it, let's divide a habit into four stages.
1. Cue 2. Craving 3. Response 4. Reward
These four stages create a feedback loop. Your mind is endlessly running this loop and learning from its experiences.
I don't have space or time to break down all the details of this loop and how to use them to build good habits and break bad ones (that's what the book is for), but I will highlight a few interesting areas.
Stage 1: Cue
Your brain remembers the past so that it can better predict the future. One of the key ways it remembers is by associating cues in the external environment with past experiences.
You can use a similar approach to take control of your habits at home.
Want to watch less TV? Remove the TV from your bedroom.
Want to spend less money on electronics? Stop following unboxing videos and tech reviews on YouTube.
Reduce exposure to the cues of bad habits.
Stage 2: Craving
The second stage of the habit loop is all about how you interpret the cue. It's about the prediction you make and the meaning you assign to the cues in your life.
Make a different prediction and you'll take a different response.
Cravings occur because your brain holds a record of your past experiences and outcomes and then tries to map those onto your current circumstances to predict the most rewarding response.
In many cases, the most rewarding response is determined by who we are surrounded by at the time. Humans are social creatures are our desires (cravings) are heavily influenced by the opinions, praise, and respect of others.
Everyone is wired to care about the opinion of others because it helps us when others like us. For our ancestors, earning the respect of those around them and belonging to the tribe was often a matter a life and death.
Everyone wants to belong and you can use this inclination to help you build better habits.
One of the most effective ways to build a new habit is to join a group where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
Finally, I must thank the people who worked on these topics before me. I cite many of them in the book (250+ endnotes), but I want to publicly acknowledge a few: Leo Babauta (@zen_habits), Charles Duhigg (@cduhigg), Nir Eyal (@nireyal), & BJ Fogg (@bjfogg) for their work. Thanks!
If you're interested in learning more, please read Atomic Habits.
It has already been named:
- New York Times best seller - Wall Street Journal best seller - USA Today best seller - Top 10 on Amazon - Top 10 on Audible - 4.9/5 stars on Amazon
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