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Triggers for Automated Habits

I've had a few friends who've gone through quitting smoking. The hard part, they say, is that certain things trigger wanting to smoke. Stressful situation? Time to smoke. Driving a car? Time to smoke. Drinking at a bar? Time to smoke. The reason that bad habits are so hard to quit is that we have these many triggers that start us down that path almost automatically. A compulsive eater might get into a stressful situation and have a hamburger halfway into their face before they even consciously think about whether or not they should be eating.

The silver lining of this nuance of human nature is that we can also harness triggers to create positive habits. Just as bad habits are so hard to break because of our triggers, good habits can be made resilient using the same mechanism. And just as bad habits are built slowly and incrementally, so are good habits.

I meditate for five minutes every day. As soon as I wake up, I grab my phone and press the start button on a five minute meditation timer. Waking up is my trigger. At first I had to remind myself to do the meditation every morning, but now I do it almost automatically. It would feel strange not to meditate. Just as a veteran smoker is likely to have a harder time quitting than a new smoker, the longer I keep my meditation habit, the easier it becomes to maintain.

There are two main types of triggers: contextual triggers and constant triggers. Waking up is a constant trigger, since I do it every single day and want to meditate every day. A contextual trigger is something that happens at an inconsistent frequency. For me, feeling tired during the day is a contextual trigger. Whenever that happens, I drink a glass of water, because I've found that sometimes I'm just dehydrated and not actually tired.

Superhuman by Habit

On The Barely Shaky Baboon

i just finished reading a book called "superhuman by habit'. It starts off by saying that all great people are great because of their habits. If it wasn't for those, they would just be normal people.

It continues to say that all of us have a very small amount of willpower at our disposal, and every single choice we make drains a little of it. So the idea is to eliminate as many choices from our day as possible by habitualizing them.

The important thing is to work on one habit at a time, until it feels normal (usually 21 days). Then start working on a new habit. You can really stockpile lots of good habits one after another.

Eventually it becomes effortless because when it's a habit, it's what's normal, you wouldn't think of doing anything else. All great people have a routine built upon habits they instituted one by one.

I just need to be consistent. Doing it every single day, and not getting caught up in perfectionism. If I can't think of what to write on this blog (my new habit). Then I'll write about how I can't think of what to write!

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