One Small Step Can Change Your Life Book Summary - One Small Step Can Change Your Life Book explained in key points

One Small Step Can Change Your Life summary

Robert Maurer

The Kaizen Way

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What is One Small Step Can Change Your Life about?

One Small Step Can Change Your Life (2004) is a practical self-help guide inspired by the concept of kaizen – change through small steps. It suggests a variety of simple techniques that can help anyone improve their lives and make lasting changes, one small step at a time.

About the Author

Robert Maurer is a clinical psychologist at UCLA and the University of Washington School of Medicine. He organizes regular lectures and seminars on kaizen and is the author of The Spirit of Kaizen and Mastering Fear.

Table of Contents
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    Chapter 1: By taking small steps, you can make changes more easily.

    Let's start by thinking of a change you want to make in your life. Maybe you want to eat healthier or set aside a little money each month for some savings. Or you might have a bad habit you’d like to give up.

    There’s a chance you’ve already tried and found making this change difficult. Like I said earlier, change can be hard. Even when you go in with the best intentions, sticking to your resolutions isn’t easy. 

    Believe me when I say - it’s not just you. Most of us struggle. The average American will make the same New Year’s resolution for ten consecutive years – and fail every time.

    But it doesn’t have to be so hard. Robert Maurer argues that making changes can be surprisingly straightforward. All you need is kaizen.

    Maybe you’ve heard of kaizen before, perhaps in a business context. This concept of continuous improvement is all about doing things slowly and taking small steps in order to make larger positive changes.

    Maurer recommends kaizen to his clients – chainsmokers, unhappy bachelors, wiped out parents . . . all kinds of people. It’s effective for anyone who’s trying to live a healthier, happier life.

    Let’s look at six different ways you can use kaizen in your life. The great thing is, you don’t even need to use all of these techniques. Each one works on its own, and you can start using them right away.

    First, though, let’s take a quick look at the science behind kaizen. How does it work, exactly? Why are small steps so effective?

    Essentially, kaizen is a kind of hack – a way to bypass our biological instincts.

    Most of the time, the human brain doesn’t handle change so well. Because sudden change triggers our fight-or-flight response, which happens in the part of the brain called the amygdala. Whether it’s something big, like changing careers, or small, like cutting down on chocolate, our brains just don’t like it. Change is perceived as a threat.

    But with kaizen, the changes don't feel so scary. By making minor, gradual changes, you can tiptoe past the amygdala and avoid triggering alarm bells.

    That’s how kaizen works – tricking your brain by taking small, sneaky steps.

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    Who should read One Small Step Can Change Your Life

    • People struggling to achieve their health goals
    • Writers, artists, or other creatives who feel blocked
    • Anyone who’s feeling pessimistic or demotivated

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