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Smaller Habits, Bigger Results
- Read in 13 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 8 key ideas
Mini Habits (2013) explains the logic behind an innovative approach to achieving your goals. Motivation and ambition aren’t necessarily what will drive you to success; rather, it’s your small day-to-day habits that will really get you on the right track. Learn how to harness their power with these blinks.
Key idea 1 of 8
Most of our lives are governed by our habits.
Do you know that feeling of being on autopilot? When we’re taking our morning showers or brushing our teeth, we hardly need to think about what we’re doing at all. Why? Because we’ve turned these necessary daily activities into habits – that is, tasks we’ve done so often that we can do them automatically.
In fact, a lot of our daily activities are governed by habit. According to a study from Duke University, 45 percent of our behaviors are habitual.
We’re especially prone to falling into habitual behaviors when we’re stressed.
This was demonstrated in another study at UCLA that uncovered our tendency to revert to habitual behavior when under pressure, tired or overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this happens whether the habits are good or bad for us.
Why does stress affect us in this way? Well, stress is often the result of being unable to make certain decisions.
Habits, however, are something we don’t have to make decisions about. They are pre-programmed into our daily life. When stressed and incapable of making a decision, we resort to our habits. If you often find yourself chatting online or eating donuts when stressed, chances are that they’re habitual behaviors. Perhaps you wish they weren’t!
If so, there’s good news: bad habits can be changed. After all, habits are nothing more than neural pathways in the brain. They get thicker the more they’re used, and deteriorate when neglected. You create your own habits simply by repeating activities until they get easier and easier.
So, if you want to start getting up earlier in the morning, the first few weeks will be a struggle because those neural pathways are still weak. But soon enough, your brain will strengthen the connection between waking up and getting straight out of bed, while the habit of rolling over and going back to sleep becomes weaker and weaker.
Before you know it, your neural pathways will be doing all the work for you, leaving you bright-eyed and ready to start the day.