An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Buy book - Atomic Habits by James Clear
What is the subject of the book Atomic Habits?
Creating Good Habits and Breaking Bad Habits is a practical and proven framework for developing good habits and breaking bad ones. It demonstrates, via scientific study and real-world examples, how little changes in behavior may result in the development of new habits, which can help you accomplish great things in your life.
Who has read the book Atomic Habits?
- People who want to develop better habits or break bad ones
- people who like to know why they act in a particular manner
- people who want to reach even greater heights; and people who want to learn more about themselves.
Who is James Clear, and what is his background?
James Clear is an author and entrepreneur who specializes in the study of habits and their ability to aid in the advancement of one's personal development. Clear writes about the science of habits and human behavior in a weekly email that is read by hundreds of thousands of people. He shares tales from his own life as well as stories from the lives of top achievers in business, sports, the arts, and other areas in his writing.
What exactly is in it for me? Discover how seemingly small behavior may have a significant effect on your life.
As we go through these notes, we will discuss ways to bring about positive change in your life. It turns out that cultivating proper habits is the most straightforward method of effecting good change. Continue reading to learn all you need to know about habits, including what they are, how to develop them, and, most importantly, how to make the best ones stay. If you follow a few basic guidelines and make minor behavioral adjustments, you may get incredible results. Read on for more information. So let us get this party started!
Little actions can have a surprisingly large impact on one's life quality.
Consider the scenario of an aircraft taking off from Los Angeles on its way to New York. While taking off, the pilot may opt to change direction by 3.5 degrees to the south and only see a little change in the plane's nose position. No one on board would have noticed the tiny movement if it had occurred outside of the cockpit. However, over the course of a cross-country flight, the effect of the shift would be significant, and the befuddled passengers would disembark from their aircraft in Washington, DC, rather than New York.
We are not aware of minute changes since their immediate effect is so inconsequential. If you are out of shape today and decide to go for a 20-minute jog, you will still be out of shape the next day as well. On the other hand, if you eat a family-size pizza for supper, you will not become obese overnight. However, if we repeat minor actions on a daily basis, our choices accumulate and have significant consequences. If you eat pizza every day for a year, you will almost certainly have acquired a significant amount of weight. If you jog for 20 minutes every day, you will ultimately get leaner and more fit, even if you are not aware of the changes taking place. A good change in your life needs patience, as well as faith in your ability to maintain your current behavior – even if you do not notice instant benefits.
If you discover that your present actions and habits are not yielding the desired outcomes, attempt to keep your attention on your current trajectory rather than your current results. In the event that you have little money in the bank but are saving something every month, you may be sure that your financial trajectory is on the correct track. Your present results may not be spectacular, but if you keep moving in the right way, you will see a significant increase after a few months or a few years. In contrast, a billionaire who spends more than he earns each month may not be concerned about his bank statements from one month to the next, but his financial trajectory will eventually catch up with him. Creating significant changes in your life does not need tremendous upheaval; you do not need to alter your behavior or reinvent yourself in order to achieve success. Instead, you may make little adjustments to your behavior that, if done over and over again, will develop habits that may lead to significant improvements in your situation.
A habit is a set of automatic actions that we have acquired via our life experiences.
When you go into a dark room, you do not stop to consider what you should do next; instead, you grab for the light switch automatically. That behavior has been ingrained in you as a result of many repetitions, and it now occurs automatically. So, how exactly do habits form? Our brain learns how to react to novel circumstances via a process of trial and error, which is described in detail here. An experiment in which cats were put in a black box was notably carried out by the nineteenth-century psychologist Edward Thorndike to illustrate this point. Each cat instantly attempted to escape from the box, sniffing its corners and scratching at its walls, which was unexpectedly successful. It was inevitable that the cat would come upon a lever that, when pushed, would open a door, allowing it to escape.
Thorndike then collected the cats who had managed to escape and carried out the experiment again with them. What were his findings? After a few repetitions of being placed in the box, each cat figured out what to do. However, rather than scurrying about aimlessly for a minute or two, the cats charged directly towards the lever. Even after 20 or 30 failed efforts, the typical cat was able to escape in just six seconds. To put it another way, the process of getting out of the box has become second nature to them. Thorndike has found that actions that result in gratifying outcomes — in this instance, obtaining freedom – are more likely to be repeated until they become second nature to the individual. Just like cats in the nineteenth century, we too come upon gratifying solutions to the problems and predicaments of life. And, fortunately, we now have a better understanding of how habits operate.
Habits begin with a cue, which is a prompt to take action. When you go into a dark room, you are cued to do an action that will allow you to see. An intense desire to alter one's state of being, namely one's ability to perceive, follows. Next follows our reaction or action — in this case, turning on the light switch. The reward is the last stage in the process, as well as the ultimate objective of any behavior. It is the sensation of moderate pleasure and comfort that comes from being able to observe what is going on around you in this situation. Every habit is subjected to the same set of circumstances. Do you regularly have a cup of coffee in the morning? When you wake up, you are triggered by a desire to be awake and aware. You get out of bed and pour yourself a cup of coffee as a reaction to the situation. Your reward will be a sense of well-being and readiness to face the world. But, of course, not all behaviors are beneficial to our health. Now that we have a better understanding of how habits operate, let us look at how we may develop good habits that will enhance our lives.
Building new habits requires the use of hard-to-miss signals as well as a clear plan of action.
We all have signals that cause us to engage in particular behaviors. For example, the buzzing of your phone serves as a reminder to check your messages. In addition, if you understand how different types of stimuli may lead to habitual behavior, you can utilize this information to alter your behavior. How? The first step is to make changes to your surroundings and general environment in order to promote healthier behaviors. Take, for example, the work of Dr. Anne Thorndike, who practices in Boston. She wanted to alter the eating habits of her patients without forcing them to make a conscious choice on their own. What was her secret to pulling this off? She got the hospital cafeteria changed as a result of her efforts. For a long time, the refrigerators adjacent to the cash registers were stocked only with Coke. Thorndike instituted the use of water, not just at that location, but at every other drinking station as well. During the same period, soda sales fell by 11 percent, while water sales increased by 25 percent, according to Nielsen. The fact that the signal to drink water rather than soda was more apparent meant that people were choosing better choices.
Simple adjustments to our surroundings, on the other hand, may have a significant impact. Do you want to learn how to play guitar? Place the instrument in the middle of the room, out of the way. Trying to eat more nutritious snacks? Instead of putting them in the salad drawer, leave them out on the counter. Put as much emphasis on your signals as possible, and you will be more likely to pay attention to them. The use of implementation intents is a second excellent method of strengthening cues. The majority of us have a tendency to be too imprecise about our objectives. We make promises to ourselves, such as, "I am going to eat better," and then we hope that we will really follow through. Introducing an implementation intention establishes a clear plan of action, outlining when and where you want to put into practice the behavior that you wish to develop. And studies have shown that it works. It was discovered in a study of voters in the United States that individuals who were given the questions "When will you vote?" and "How will you get to the polling station?" were more likely to really vote than those who were just asked whether they planned to participate in the election.
So do not simply declare, "I will go for a run more often." For instance, you could say, "When my alarm goes off on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the first thing I'll do is put on my running shoes and run for two kilometers. „Then place your running shoes somewhere visible where you will see them. You will be providing yourself with a clear strategy as well as an apparent signal, and you may be surprised at how much simpler it will be to really develop a good running habit as a result of this.
Humans are driven by the expectation of a reward. Making routines appealing will aid in your ability to maintain your commitment.
An experiment to investigate the neurology of desire was conducted by neuroscientists James Old and Peter Milner in 1954. They used electrodes to prevent the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine from being released in rats. The rats, to their amazement, simply lost their desire to survive. They had no urge to consume food or drink, breed, or engage in any other activity. They were all dead from thirst just a few days later. When we engage in pleasant activities, like eating or having sex, the human brain produces dopamine, a hormone that helps us feel good about ourselves. However, when we merely anticipate such pleasant behaviors, we get a boost of dopamine that makes us feel good. We may think of it as the brain's method of pushing us forward and motivating us to really accomplish things in our lives. As a result, in the brain's reward system, wanting something is on par with receiving something, which goes a long way toward explaining why children get so excited about the prospect of Christmas. Also, it is one of the reasons why fantasizing about your next hot date is so enjoyable.
We may also use this information to our advantage when attempting to establish new behaviors. The likelihood that we will follow through and really accomplish something increases dramatically when we establish a habit of something we like doing. The method of temptation bundling is very effective in this situation. The term refers to the process of taking a behavior that you consider to be essential but unattractive and linking it to a behavior that you find appealing - one that will result in a motivating dopamine rush. Ronan Byrne, an engineering student in Ireland, was aware that he needed to increase his physical activity, but he found working out to be uninteresting. Netflix, on the other hand, was something he enjoyed doing. Therefore, he modified an exercise bike by attaching it to his laptop and creating a code that would only enable Netflix to function while the cyclist was riding at a certain pace. In doing so, he turned an unpleasant activity into one that he enjoyed. He did this by connecting exercise with a habit that he was naturally attracted to.
You do not have to be an engineer to put this into practice in your daily life. In order to get some exercise while keeping up with the newest A-list gossip, you might commit to just reading magazines at the gym for the duration of your workout. If you want to watch sports but have to make sales calls, promise yourself that you will watch half an hour of ESPN after you have spoken with your tenth prospect. It is possible that you may come to like doing those unappealing activities in the future, since you will expect a pleasant reward while performing them.
If you want to establish a new habit, make it as simple as possible for others to follow your lead.
We often devote a significant amount of time to activities that are very simple. Scrolling through social media, for example, requires little effort, making it easy for us to spend a significant amount of time doing so. Doing a hundred push-ups or learning Mandarin Chinese, on the other hand, takes a significant amount of work. It is difficult to keep up with such habits on a daily basis until they become automatic. In order to convert actions into habits, it is necessary to make them as simple as feasible. Fortunately, there are a few techniques we may use to make everything seem less difficult. The first step is to concentrate on lowering friction. When it comes to sending greeting cards, the author has always failed miserably, while his wife is always efficient in this regard. Why? She, on the other hand, maintains a box of greeting cards at home, which she organizes by occasion, making it simpler to convey congratulations, condolences, or anything else that is required. The fact that she does not have to go out and get a card when someone gets married or has an accident means that sending a card is a frictionless process.
This strategy can also be used to boost efficiency by increasing the friction for undesirable behaviors. To reduce the amount of time you spend in front of the television, disconnect it and remove the batteries from the remote control. This will provide enough friction to guarantee that you only watch when you truly want to see anything. The second technique for making a habit easier to maintain in the long run is the two-minute rule, which can be used to make any new activity seem doable for the first two minutes. The underlying concept is that every action may be reduced to a habit that can be completed in under two minutes. Interested in learning more? Instead of committing to reading one book per week, make it a habit to read two pages every night as part of your evening routine. Do you want to participate in a marathon? Make a commitment to simply putting on your running shoes and going for a run after work every day.
The two-minute rule is a simple approach to establishing readily maintainable habits, which may lead to larger accomplishments in the future. Once you have put on your running shoes, it is likely that you will go for a walk or jog. You will most likely continue reading once you have finished the first two pages. In recognition of the fact that simply starting is the first and most important step toward achieving a goal, the rule states that you should consider the final guideline for using habits to improve your quality of life, which is as follows:
Making your habits instantly pleasurable is critical to achieving lasting behavior modification.
In the 1990s, the efforts of public health researcher Stephen Luby in Karachi, Pakistan, resulted in a massive 52 percent decrease in diarrhea among local children. Luby is credited with this achievement. Pneumonia rates have decreased by 48%, while skin infections have dropped by 35% in the same year. What is Luby's secret? It's a lovely soap. Luby was well aware that handwashing and basic sanitation were critical in the prevention of sickness and disease. The locals were aware of this as well; they were simply not putting their newfound information into practice. When Luby collaborated with Proctor & Gamble to provide free high-quality soap to the residents, the entire neighborhood was transformed. Handwashing was transformed overnight into a pleasurable activity. The new soap lathered up quickly and had a pleasant scent to it. It did not take long until everyone was washing their hands, since it had become a pleasurable pastime. The last and most essential guideline for achieving behavioral change is to create habits that are pleasurable.
Due to evolutionary considerations, this may be challenging. We are now living in what scholars refer to as a "delayed-return environment." Despite the fact that you showed up at the office today, your salary is not going to be delivered until the end of the month. Even if you go to the gym first thing in the morning, you will not lose weight overnight. Our brains, on the other hand, have evolved to deal with the immediate-return environment of earlier humans, who were not concerned with long-term returns such as saving for retirement or following a diet during the time of their evolution. They were preoccupied with immediate problems, like locating their next food, finding shelter, and being vigilant enough to avoid being ambushed by any nearby lions. Immediate returns may also serve to promote unhealthy behaviors. Smoking may cause lung cancer in 20 years, but in the short term, it reduces tension and satisfies a nicotine need, so you may choose to overlook the long-term consequences and indulge in a cigarette. So, while you are pursuing behaviors that will provide you with a delayed reward, attempt to associate them with something that will provide you with instant pleasure.
For example, the author knows of a couple that wanted to eat out less and cook more, as well as become healthier and save money. In order to accomplish this, they established a savings account named "Trip to Europe," and they deposited $50 into it every time they avoided eating out for a meal. Seeing $50 arrive in their savings account gave them the short-term pleasure they needed to keep them on track for the ultimate, longer-term prize. We may be able to form habits that are pleasant and fulfilling, but we may be unable to sustain them. So let us have a look at how we may stay true to our good intentions in the future.
Create a structure to help you stay on track with your habits, including trackers and contracts.
Whether you are attempting to create a diary or quit smoking, controlling your own habits may be difficult. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that may be taken to assist. Habit monitoring is a simple yet effective method for improving one's behavior. Numerous individuals have maintained a record of their habits, with Benjamin Franklin being one of the most well-known. Franklin began keeping a journal when he was 20 years old, in which he documented his devotion to 13 personal qualities, which included goals such as avoiding frivolous talk and always being engaged in something important. Every night, he made a list of his accomplishments. It is possible for you to create a habit tracker by utilizing a basic calendar or notebook and marking off each day that you adhere to your selected habits. You will find it to be successful, since habit monitoring is an appealing and gratifying habit in and of itself, as shown above. The anticipation and action of checking each day off your list will make you feel good and help you to stay motivated.
Developing a habit contract, in which failure to adhere to the terms of the contract results in negative repercussions, is a second method to consider. Mr. Bryan Harris, a successful businessman from Nashville, took his pact with his habit extremely seriously. A contract signed by him, his wife, and his personal trainer said that he would lose weight until he reached a target weight of 200 pounds. Several behaviors, such as monitoring his food intake each day and weighing oneself once a week, were recognized as being beneficial to him in reaching his goal. Then he established consequences for failing to comply with those requirements. If he did not keep track of his food consumption, he would be required to pay $100 to his trainer; if he did not weigh himself, he would have to pay $500 to his wife. Because of his fear of losing money, but also his fear of losing face in front of two individuals who were important to him, he was successful in implementing his plan. Humans are highly sociable creatures. Simply knowing that someone is looking at you may be a strong motivation for achievement, since we are all concerned with the views of people in our immediate vicinity.
So why not make a deal with yourself to break a bad habit? Even if your promise is not as comprehensive as Harris's, you should consider making one to your spouse, your closest friend, or a colleague. It is far more probable that you will keep to your routines if you and your partner agree on a set of penalties for not following through on your promises. And, as we've seen, developing a good habit, no matter how small, is a surefire way to achieve great things in life.
Atomic Habits is the title of the book's final chapter.
The most important lesson in these notes is that making a little adjustment to your behavior will not completely alter your life overnight. However, if you convert that behavior into a habit that you practice on a daily basis, it has the potential to bring about significant improvements. The key to changing your life is not to make major discoveries or to completely transform your outlook on life. But rather than that, it is about developing a good system of behaviors that, when combined, may produce extraordinary outcomes. Advice that can be put into action Introduce new habits into your life by using habit stacking. Try stacking a new habit on top of an existing habit if you are trying to establish a new one. Consider the following scenario: you want to begin meditating, but you are unable to find the time. Consider some of the activities you do on a daily basis that seem natural to you, such as sipping coffee in the morning. Then just put the new habit on top of the old one. Make an effort to meditate every morning after you drink your coffee, and capitalize on the natural momentum that comes from engaging in a habit that you already have in place.