Improve Your Habits

Level Up Your Habits

Whether you're new to hacking your habits or you've read the behavioral science bestsellers, this is your hub for applying the science of habits to your own behavior to improve your wellbeing.

Yesterday I ate an entire bag of potato chips without even noticing.I opened the bag for a nibble just as I was

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With the simple act of repeating your actions over and over with your family, you’re instilling deep and lasting habits into your

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Why You Need to Apply Behavioral Science to Improve Your Habits

Grandmothers everywhere have said repeatedly "You are what you do". They aren't wrong.

It's intuitive that when you repeat little habits over and over, it add up to a very large result over months and years. But most people don't appreciate the extent to which this is true. A short walk to and from the subway station each day instead of getting in your car can keep off xx pounds over xx years, preventing the slide into diabetic blood sugar issues and progressive heart disease. A simple 3 minute gratitude habit will substantially shift your glass from being half empty to being half full, which makes your life richer, sweeter and more meaningful. 

Habits also shape your identity. Your sense of who you are and what you believe you're capable of comes from your past experiences. Going back to the simple gratitude habit, this extremely quick but repeated habit causes more positive memories to be recorded in your brain. It literally rewrites your story, your own experience of your life, as you live it. This in turn makes you feel that you're living a better life -- even if your circumstances haven't changed a bit. Using habits to rewrite your stories of past failures can shift you into a growth mindset, where you love to fail because you know you're learning more that way and failure stops derailing you and slowing your progress towards your larger goals.

The Problem: People don’t know how to change their own behavior

It's clear that humans didn't evolve to live the modern lifestyle we're facing now and it causes a lot of suffering. Electric lights and computer screens have disrupted our circadian rhythms and erased our seasonal cycles to create a $60 billion market for sleep aids that's one of the fastest growing industries on the planet. Food stores don't contain much 'food' anymore, but instead are full of boxed snacks and 'food product' comprised of processed flour, fat and additives that damage our body and dull our thinking. 

And behavior change is hard. How did your new year's resolutions work out for you this year? Don't feel bad about yourself because guess what? Setting resolutions to change and then using willpower to follow through on them doesn't work for anybody. Putting your gym shoes by the door doesn't work either. Sticky notes on your mirror to convince yourself that you love yourself doesn't even begin to counter the underlying shame that was passed on to you that's causing your inner critic to say such mean things.

The relentless idea that all we need is more self control to make ourselves successful and therefore happy is simply not true but still pervasive. It doesn't take into account the other major factors that influence individual behavior far more than your level of willpower, such as your environment, your social influences, your coping mechanisms, your identity and your inner critic. Most people don't have a process for making change in their own behavior that actually works.

The Solution: Empower people with methods that work + guidance through the process

New behavioral research has much better answers for how to hack your habits and make them stick. We're now in a golden age of behavioral science, where massive research studies are being funded to determine what works for which types of people and professors across the globe are testing new methods and publishing results that dramatically improve outcomes over old methods. The future is here, in research labs - it's just not evenly distributed yet. And if you don't have access to all the research journals (hint: they're mostly behind expensive paywalls and written in researchese that few can or want to understand) and know how to correctly interpret and apply these results to your own daily life, then they're not helping you.

Once you understand the science of habits and learn the process for making behavior change (hint: it's not new year's resolutions), then designing your own habits becomes fascinating and fun. And it's much more effective than old techniques like leaving your gym shoes by the door.

Even after you understand the science, it's not always easy to get through the process of making big lifestyle changes. As with therapy, change is often done better when learning happens 'right brain to right brain', not filtered through rational learning of concepts that you then try to apply on your own. Many concepts are only internalized when a friend, a coach or a tribe guides you through the process, witnesses your struggle and cares about your success.  

I spent years in the behavioral research world on a world-class behavioral research team at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. My mission is to translate the best behavioral research results into actionable steps that anyone can use to level up their life and to guide people through a process of behavior change that actually works.

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