Amongst all the books you’ll find on habit building, Atomic Habits is the best contemporary book. The best part about this book is that you’ll find the practical aspects of habit building along with the theory that goes behind the phenomenon.
About the author
James Clear is an author entrepreneur and photographer. He is known for his dedicated work on habits, decision making and continuous improvements. Atomic Habits is one of his #1 New York Times bestsellers.
What is a habit?
Habit is an automated response of a body/mind that tends to occur subconsciously. Habit is a behaviour repeated so much that it becomes automatic and ultimately gets operated through the subconscious mind.
Our brain is continuously trying to save precious mental energy. So whenever behaviour(task) is repeated, our brain tries to automate the task in order to save mental energy. And this automated response is what we call a habit. It tends to occur without conscious effort. We all tend to naturally repeat some behaviours daily. It goes automatically just like that.
For example –
These automatic behaviours tend to produce significant results in the long run. And these results somehow form our identity. Thus we can say that we are made up of little things we do daily. So, whenever trying to do something new/different, do work on the little things you do daily.
According to James, human behaviour can be explained in four major parts i.e. habit loop- cue, craving, response, reward.
The cue means a signal, any kind of signal that we get through any of our sensory organs. It might be a signal through touching, smelling, seeing, tasting, hearing etc.
For example, whenever your phone vibrates/rings for a message it is a signal that we received through auditory and visual sense organs.
Craving means an urge to do something. Usually, a cue is followed by its respective craving.
For example, whenever your phone blinks slash rings flash vibrates you are automatically urged to check for that notification.
The response is referred to the natural and usual reaction one gives for a particular craving. Any kind of action that gets done with the effect of the craving, is the response.
For example, taking up your phone and reading that notification is a usual response followed by the craving to check it.
A reward is a term used for the satisfactory feeling you feel after completing the response path. It might be unpleasant or pleasant as per the experience you get after fulfiling the response.
For example, a general sense of satisfaction we get after reading the notification of our phones.
How to construct a habit
- Its cue should be easy/visible.
- Craving needs to be interesting/attractive.
- The response must be easy.
- The reward should be satisfactory.
For example, if you want to develop a habit of ‘having healthy snacks in the evening’ then-
1) You have to make your cue visible- bring healthy snack options and place them somewhere visible rather than in the cupboard.
2) You have to make craving attractive/interesting- A person who is a beginner won’t crave a plain fruit but a bowl of season fruits mixed with yoghurt or honey-lime or whatever dressing seems tempting for that person will do the job.
3) You have to make responses as easy as possible- Don’t expect yourself to eat pomegranate on the first go. Have something that is hassle-free, like an apple, guava, banana or pre-prep salad etc.
4) You have to make the reward satisfactory- Eat something that you like, don’t eat something boring or tasteless just for the sake of eating healthy. If you won’t feel satisfied afterwards, the Habit would not stick.
Deconstructing any habit
10 lessons learnt from atomic habits
Do one habit at a time.
Focusing on one task at a time fully is better than doing so many tasks half headed.
The compound effect is always working, get 1% better every day.
Think big act small (mindset is the key).
Habits can be constructed and deconstructed.
You can achieve anything you set your mind up to.
You can change who you are, through habits.
Identity affects behaviour and vice versa.
Results might be delayed but will be worth it.
Systems work better than just goals.
Being mindful and consistent is a recipe for success.
Working Inside Out last longer.
Implementation intentions are worth knowing.