Click on the image to make it larger
Tag Archives: habits
Rewire your brain to be happy…
You can re-wire your brain to be happy by simply recalling 3 things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days.
How to Make New Habits Stick for Good –By James Clear
Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.
- How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits.
- How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits.
- How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.
But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form new habits? How would you go about it?
Turns out, there’s a helpful framework that can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your life in general. Let’s talk about that framework now…
The 3 R’s of Habit Change
1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
I call this framework “The 3 R’s of Habit Change,” but I didn’t come up with this pattern on my own. It’s been proven over and over again by behavioral psychology researchers. I first learned about the process of habit formation from Stanford professor, BJ Fogg.
More recently, I read about it in Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit. Duhigg’s book refers to the three steps of the “Habit Loop” as cue, routine, reward. BJ Fogg uses the word trigger instead of cue. And I prefer reminder since it gives us the memorable “3 R’s.” Regardless, don’t get hung up on the terminology.
+ It’s more important to realize that there’s a lot of science behind the process of habit formation, and so we can be relatively confident that your habits follow the same cycle, whatever you choose to call it.
What a Habit Looks Like When Broken Down Before we get into each step, let’s use the 3 R’s to break down a typical habit.
For example, answering a phone call…
1. Your phone rings (reminder). This is the reminder that initiates the behavior. The ring acts as a trigger or cue to tell you to answer the phone. It is the prompt that starts the behavior.
2. You answer your phone (routine). This is the actual behavior. When your phone rings, you answer the phone.
3. You find out who is calling (reward). This is the reward (or punishment, depending on who is calling). The reward is the benefit gained from doing the behavior. You wanted to find out why the person on the other end was calling you and discovering that piece of information is the reward for completing the habit. If the reward is positive, then you’ll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens.
Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure.
How can you use this structure to create new habits and actually stick to them? Here’s how…
Step 1: Set a Reminder for Your New Habit- If you talk to your friends about starting a new habit, they might tell you that you need to exercise self–control or that you need to find a new dose of willpower. I disagree. Getting motivated and trying to remember to do a new behavior is the exact wrong way to go about it. If you’re a human, then your memory and your motivation will fail you. It’s just a fact. This is why the reminder is such a critical part of forming new habits.
A good reminder does not rely on motivation and it doesn’t require you to remember to do your new habit. A good reminder makes it easy to start by encoding your new behavior in something that you already do. For example, when I wrote about the secret to sticking to little healthy habits, I said that I created a new habit of flossing by always doing it after brushing my teeth. The act of brushing my teeth was something that I already did and it acted as the reminder to do my new behavior.
To make things even easier and prevent myself from having to remember to floss, I bought a bowl, placed it next to my toothbrush, and put a handful of pre–made flossers in it. Now I see the floss every time I reach for my toothbrush. Setting up a visible reminder and linking my new habit with a current behavior made it much easier to change.
No need to be motivated. No need to remember. It doesn’t matter if it’s working out or eating healthy or creating art, you can’t expect yourself to magically stick to a new habit without setting up a system that makes it easier to start.
How to Choose Your Reminder –
Picking the correct reminder for your new habit is the first step to making change easier. The best way I know to discover a good reminder for your new habit is to write down two lists.
In the first list, write down the things that you do each day without fail. For example…
•Get in the shower. •Put your shoes on. •Brush your teeth. •Flush the toilet. •Sit down for dinner. •Turn the lights off. •Get into bed.
You’ll often find that many of these items are daily health habits like washing your face, drinking morning tea, brushing your teeth, and so on. Those actions can act as reminders for new health habits.
For example, “After I drink my morning tea, I mediate for 60 seconds.” In the second list, write down the things that happen to you each day without fail. For example…
•Traffic light turns red. •You get a text message. •A commercial comes on TV. •A song ends. •The sun sets.
With these two lists, you’ll have a wide range of things that you already do and already respond to each day. Those are the perfect reminders for new habits. For example, let’s say you want to feel happier. Expressing gratitude is one proven way to boost happiness.
Using the list above, you could pick the reminder “sit down for dinner” and use it as a cue to say one thing that you’re grateful for today. “When I sit down for dinner, I say one thing that I’m grateful for today.” That’s the type of small behavior that could blossom into a more grateful outlook on life in general.
Step 2: Choose a Habit That’s Incredibly Easy to Start
It’s easy to get caught up in the desire to make massive changes in your life. We watch incredible weight loss transformations and think that we need to lose 30 pounds in the next 4 weeks. We see elite athletes on TV and wish that we could run faster and jump higher tomorrow. We want to earn more, do more, and be more … right now.
I’ve felt those things too, so I get it. And in general, I applaud the enthusiasm. I’m glad that you want great things for your life and I want to do what I can to help you achieve them. But it’s important to remember that lasting change is a product of daily habits, not once–in–a–lifetime transformations.
If you want to start a new habit and begin living healthier and happier, then I have one suggestion that I cannot emphasis enough: start small. In the words of Leo Babauta, “make it so easy that you can’t say no.” How small? BJ Fogg suggests that people who want to start flossing begin by only flossing one tooth. Just one. In the beginning, performance doesn’t matter.
Become the type of person who always sticks to your new habit. You can build up to the level of performance that you want once the behavior becomes consistent. Here’s your action step: Decide what want your new habit to be. Now ask yourself, “How can I make this new behavior so easy to do that I can’t say no?”
What is Your Reward?
It’s important to celebrate. We want to continue doing things that make us feel good. And because an action needs to be repeated for it to become a habit, it’s especially important that you reward yourself each time you practice your new habit.
For example, if I’m working towards a new fitness goal, then I’ll often tell myself at the end of a workout, “That was good day.” Or, “Good job. You made progress today.” If you feel like it, you could even tell yourself “Victory!” or “Success!” each time you do your new habit. I haven’t done this myself, but some people swear by it.
•Floss one tooth. “Victory!” •Eat a healthy meal. “Success!” •Do five pushups. “Good work!” Give yourself some credit and enjoy each success.
Related note: Only go after habits that are important to you. It’s tough to find a reward when you’re simply doing things because other people say they are important.
Where to Go From Here –
In general, you’ll find that these three steps fit almost any habit. The specifics, however, may take some work. You might have to experiment before you find the right cue that reminds you to start a new habit. You might have to think a bit before figuring out how to make your new habit so easy that you can’t say no. And rewarding yourself with positive self–talk can take some getting used to if you’re not someone who typically does that. It’s all a process, my friend.
[Ed Note: James is a writer, photographer and avid weightlifter. His mission is to help as many people as he can by showing them simple but effective ways of changing their habits. ]
As I may have mentioned, several years ago I had a challenging year, and I felt that it set me back in many ways.
I lost both parents within 5 weeks of each other, I was temporarily unemployed, and I had losses with my investment property.
I was grieving, sad, depressed, I felt like I wasn’t living up to being a man, a father, etc.
My self talk and thoughts were probably the biggest problem. I worried a lot, thought negative thoughts, went over bad things in the past, focused on what wasn’t working.
Looking back now, trying to learn from the experience, the things that helped me the most were these items:
1. having a vision of how I wanted things to be – and thinking/talking about that vision as if it was already done, already here.
2. asking great, positive questions – like “Why am I so happy?” instead of “Why do I feel so down?”
3. Focusing on what is working, what I have that is good, instead of what doesn’t work, what isn’t good.
I adopted little habits that I tried to do each day –
- I would write down my vision and when I could, handwrite it/copy it again.
- I would write down my powerful questions on index cards and read them, even copy them whenever I could. I would pick one each day to really focus on.
- I started using passwords that were meaningful and helpful to changing my thinking. So instead of some random password like shoe$1lace I might choose whydoIwin6 or whatisgr8, Iamgr8ful and so on. Think about how many times you put in different passwords each day. We type them over and over. What if these were little empowering questions, messages or reminders? wouldn’t that help a little?
Have a good week!
Being rich is all about having the right habits. That’s the message from Tom Corley, who spent five years observing how rich and poor people lived, worked, and even slept. Then, Corley wrote about his research in a book called “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”
Here’s what he found:
First: Be an early bird. Because among people making six-figures a year, about half wake up at least three hours before they have to be at work. Then, Corley says they use that extra morning time to focus on self-improvement like reading and exercising, because those things help them be more productive at work.
Another daily habit that can make you rich:Don’t gossip. According to Corley’s research, wealthy people are a whopping 14 times less likely to say they spread gossip, compared to people earning less than $30,000 a year.
Also: Spend less time using the Internet. Corley says most people who struggle with money spend at least an hour a day surfing the Web, or watching TV. But rich people are HALF as likely to go online every day. Instead, they spend that extra hour connecting with others in the “real world,” doing things like networking, socializing, and volunteering.
Another helpful habit: Make more “to-do” lists. Because wealthy people say they cross off 70% percent of the tasks on their to-do list every day – including short-term and long-term goals, meaning, rich people love getting stuff done.
Finally: According to the book, wealthy people are calorie counters. They generally limit alcoholic consumption, keep their junk food snacks to less than 300 calories per day, and weigh less. And it makes sense that successful people would weight less, 75% of executives in a recent survey said that being overweight is a “serious career impediment.” Overweight people are 3,000 times more likely to get passed over for a promotion. And fair or not, overweight applicants get turned down for jobs more than any other group.
Why are you chasing that goal?
- Make sure that you include powerful, positive emotions and experiences, words, images, and ideas. Don’t just write anything down, make it powerful and emotional – to you!