Our identity emerges from our habits. Our actions are not a product of our character. Instead, our character is a manifestation of our habits, or as Aristotle more eloquently stated, “We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.” Repeated actions create our identity the same way a bricklayer builds a structure, one brick at a time, stacked one upon another. Each action by itself is inconsequential, but together, they make us who we are. Continue reading IDENTITY EMERGES FROM OUR HABITS – BECOME A MODERN-DAY SPARTAN
Here is the greatest value of discipline: self-worth. Many people who are teaching self-esteem these days don’t connect it to discipline. But once we sense the least lack of discipline within ourselves, it starts to erode our psyche. One of the greatest temptations is to ease up a little bit. Instead of doing your best, you allow yourself to do just a little less than your best. Sure enough, you’ve started in the slightest way to decrease your sense of self-worth. Respect must be earned, especially self-respect.
If you read for five minutes each day, you would read approximately ten books a year. That is more than double the median number of the books the average American read last year. That is ten more books than the 27% of Americans who admitted to not reading a single book in the past year.[i] Assuming you were never motivated to read more than five minutes each day, in ten years, you would still have read 100 books and amassed a small library. Every time you looked at your library, you could take pride in the knowledge that you have read all the books in it – and all it took was a five-minute a day commitment. Continue reading Accomplish More with Mini Habits
Our brain relies on routines stored in our primitive brain to conserve mental energy, but it needs to decide which Routine to perform and when to perform it. The initial spike in brain activity is the rat determining which Routine to perform. Once the rat decides, it’s decision centers quiet, their basal ganglia take over, navigating the maze quicker than when it was slowed down by conscious thought. At the end of the exercise, when the rat sees the reward, the brain jolts itself awake. It makes sure that the pattern unfolded as anticipated. Habits are a four-step process. First, there is a Cue that stimulates a Craving and triggers a Routine. Then there is a conditioned Routine, stored in our basal ganglia, that we execute to satisfy our Craving. Finally, there is a Reward that reinforces the habit by causing our brain to judge the routine worth remembering and repeating. This explains the pattern of brain activity the researchers observed, and it helps explain why habits are so valuable and potentially dangerous. Ann Graybiel, one of the scientists who oversaw many of the basal ganglia experiments, said, “Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation. The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.[i] “If a learned pattern remains in the brain after the behavior is extinguished, maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to change a habit. It is as though somehow, the brain retains a memory of the habit context, and this pattern can be triggered if the right habit cues come back,” Graybiel said. “This situation is familiar to anyone who is trying to lose weight or to control a well-engrained habit. Just the sight of a piece of chocolate cake can reset all those good intentions.”[ii] Continue reading Why Habits are so Powerful and Potentially Dangerous
The fundamental flaw with extreme diet and exercise programs is their unsustainability. A program approach to weight loss can work, but our life does not end when we achieve our weight loss goal. When we solve problems at the systems’ level, by incorporating keystone habits, we have a permanent solution. Continue reading The Quick Fix Mentality Trap