Tiny Habits is a book about the science of ‘Behaviour Design’ and how it can be used to create habits that stick. It proposes an alternative more compassionate approach to ‘Practicing Change’. It includes case studies of people who adopted the Tiny Habits approach to create habits successfully.
Fogg debunks several myths about habit formation pervasive in popular culture. For instance, we tend to over-emphasize the role of motivation and willpower in habit creation which leads to disappointment and a low chance of success. Fogg calls motivation and willpower ‘fair-weather friends’, suggesting our over-dependence on them is undoubtedly the wrong way to create habits.
Fogg makes convincing arguments in favour of starting small (or tiny) and wiring in the good habits by feeling good (what he calls ‘Shine’ in the book) as opposed to feeling guilty. It is a practical book, with dozens of inspiring tiny actions to help you start immediately. Definitely recommend reading this book!
I found Fogg’s compassionate approach to be unique and previously missing amid the countless habit/ productivity literature. It is very easy to feel bad, to let our inner critic tell us we are not good enough. And if you find yourself frequently reminded of all the reasons why you can’t then Tiny Habits might have two cents to offer.
My two big takeaways were starting tiny and celebration. Here are two excerpts on starting tiny.
“Tiny Habits method, you focus on small actions that you can do in less than thirty seconds.”
“When something is tiny, it’s easy to do—which means you don’t need to rely on the unreliable nature of motivation.”
Here is an excerpt on celebration.
“When you celebrate effectively, you tap into the reward circuitry of your brain. By feeling good at the right moment, you cause your brain to recognize and encode the sequence of behaviors you just performed. In other words, you can hack your brain to create a habit by celebrating and self-reinforcing.”
When it comes to reading (more) I believe that you should read what you want to, out of curiosity or interest. As opposed to something you ‘should’ read. In the same spirit, Fogg proposes the first of two maxims- both of which I find useful to bear in mind.
1 Help people do what they already want to do.
2 Help people feel successful
🕵 How I Discovered It
I discovered B.J. Fogg in late March 2021 in one of the Clubhouse rooms. His approach to behavior design and practicing change seemed not only scientific but also immensely compassionate.
✍️ My Favorite Quotes
“A change myth was holding Amy back—the pervasive idea that you’ve got to go big or go home. We live in an aspiration-driven culture that is rooted in instant gratification. We find it difficult to enact or even accept incremental progress. Which is exactly what you need to cultivate meaningful long-term change. People get frustrated and demoralized when things don’t happen quickly. It’s natural. It’s normal. But it’s another way we’re set up to fail.”
“With the Tiny Habits method, you celebrate successes no matter how small they are. This is how we take advantage of our neurochemistry and quickly turn deliberate actions into automatic habits. Feeling successful helps us wire in new habits, and it motivates us to do more.”
“I call this feeling Shine. You know this feeling already: You feel Shine when you ace an exam. You feel Shine when you give a great presentation and people clap at the end. You feel Shine when you smell something delicious that you cooked for the first time.”
“Celebration will one day be ranked alongside mindfulness and gratitude as daily practices that contribute most to our overall happiness and well-being. If you learn just one thing from my entire book, I hope it’s this: Celebrate your tiny successes. This one small shift in your life can have a massive impact even when you feel there is no way up or out of your situation.”
“Yes, in our hyperachieving, go-getter world, I’m telling you to lower the bar. Not because I don’t want you to achieve great things, but because I know that you need to start small in order to achieve them.”
“Remember that you change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.”