Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

About the Book “Atomic Habits”

Atomic habit is a great worth reading book. The author James Clear figured out an “easy and proven” way to build good habits and break bad ones. We know that changing our habits is not that easy. But in this book, we can find an easy and simple mechanism to change behaviors and habits. This book is stuffed with psychology, philosophy, and sociology. But you will not find it a boring academic book. James made his points simple. Anyone can understand easily.

Who is James Clear?

James Clear is an author, mentor, entrepreneur, and photographer. He shares self-improvement tips based on scientific research. He is best known for his book “Atomic Habits.”

What Atomic Habits can do?

  • Atomic habits will reset the way you think about success and progress. It gives you tools you need to transform your habits.
  • It will give you the strategy to change your habits; whether you want to lose weight, quit smoking or an organization hoping to redefine an industry.
  • “Atomic habits” offers a proven framework to improve you every day. No matter what your goals are, what you want to achieve.
  • This book will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break the bad ones and master the behavior that lead to remarkable results.
  • “Atomic habits” means it is a regular practice or routine that is not easy to do but it is the source of incredible power.

What are Atomic Habits?

Atomic habits are tiny small habits. They are so tiny just like atoms, but they have the ability to be mighty. They can become mighty when they are constantly repeated hundreds or thousands or more times. Atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results.

Why Tiny Changes Make a Great Difference?

Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive actions. Whether it is achieving your goal, authoring a book, winning a championship, or building a business we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvements that everyone will talk about. Improving by 1% is not particularly notable. Sometimes it does not even noticeable. But in the long run, it can be far more meaningful. The difference a tiny improvement can make over the time is astonishing. Here is how it works:

If you get better 1% every day for one year, you will end up by 37 times better by the end of year.

Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, things will go contrary. You will end up nearly downs to zero. It is so easy to underestimate the importance of 1% improvement and value of making small improvements on a daily basis.

There are two types of compounds habits;

Positive Compound

Accomplishing one extra task, counts for a lot over your entire career. The more you complete, the task without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas. Learning one new idea will not make you a genius but a commitment to lifelong learning can be transformative. The more you help others, the more others want to help you. It is a reflective behavior.

Negative Compound

Stress of a traffic jam, parenting responsibilities, the worry of high blood pressure, the strain of making ends meet. By themselves, these common stresses are manageable but when they persist for years, these stresses compound into serious health issues. The more you think yourself as an ugly, worthless, or stupid; the more you condition yourself to interrupt life that way.

Read: 12 Powerful Ways to Improve Body Language

System versus Goals

If you are having trouble changing your habits, the problem is not you, the problem is your system. When bad habits repeat themselves again and again it is not that you do not want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. Focusing on the overall system rather than a single goal is one of the core themes of this book. It is also one of the deep meanings of the word atomic. Habits are like atoms in our lives; each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to our overall improvement. At first, they seem like tiny habits but by the time they fuel bigger.

Getting one percent better every day counts a lot in the long run. Habits are like a double-edged sword. They can work for you or against you. That is why explaining their details is essential. You need to be patient. Small changing often seems to have no difference at first. Their outcomes come delayed. Atomic habit is a tiny habit that is part of a larger system. If you want better results then forget about setting goals; focus on your system instead.

Three Layers of Behavior Change

  1. The first layer is changing your outcomes. It is concerned with changing the end results. Quitting smoke, winning a cup, losing weight; all are associated with this level of change.
  2. The second layer is changing you process. It addresses your habits and systems. Most of the habits you build are concerned with this level like, decluttering your room, trying a new morning routine, or starting a new exercise.
  3. The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. It addresses your beliefs; your assumptions, thoughts about people, point of view about politics, and your self-image. They are all concerned with this level of change.

So, outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe. All levels of changing are useful in their own way. The problem is the direction of change.

The Real Reason Habits Matter

Identity change is the North Star of habit change. The remainder of this book provides you with step-by-step instruction on how to build better habits in yourself, your family, your team or anywhere else you wish. Your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you want to be. Quite literally you become your habits. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs and to upgrade and expand your identity.

Why is it too easy to repeat bad habits and so hard to form good ones? It looks more difficult to maintain good habits for more than a few days even with sincere effort and occasional burst of motivation. Habits like; exercising, meditation, cooking, and journalism are reasonable for a day or two and then become a hassle. However, when your habits are established; they often stick around forever.

The human brain is prediction machine. It is continuously taking in your surroundings and analyzing the information it comes across. Within a practice you can notice the cues that predict certain outcomes without continuously thinking about it. Consider hunger, how do you know when you are hungry? You do not obviously have to see a cookie on the counter to realize it is time to eat. Appetite and hunger are governed unconsciously. Your body has a variety of feedback loops that gradually alert you when it is time to eat. Craving can arise, thanks to hormones and chemical circulating. The marks you give to a particular habit will depend on your situation and your goal. Scoring your habits can be a bit more complex for another reason as well. The label “good habit” and a “bad habit” are slightly inaccurate. There are no good or bad habits but, there are effective habits. Good habits will have positive outcomes. Bad habits will have negative outcomes. Smoking a cigarette may reduce stress

How to create good Habits in Four Simple Steps:

Habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic. Whenever you encounter a new situation in life your brain needs to make a decision, “how do I respond to this?” The first time is always difficult. You do not know how to resolve issues. Your habits are just a solution that solves the problems and stresses you feel regularly.

Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. In fact, the people who do not have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom. When you have your habits handled and done, your mind is free to focus on new challenges and master the new set of problems. Building the habit in present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.

How to create a good habit:

  1. First Law: Make it Obvious (Cue)
  2. Second Law: Make it Attractive (Craving)
  3. Third Law: Make it Easy (Response)
  4. Fourth Law: Make it Satisfying (Reward)

First Law: Make it Obvious (Cue)

Over time, the cues that spark our habits becomes so common that they are invisible. One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are doing.

Habit Scorecard: The habit scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behavior. Make a list of your daily existing habits. Distinguish good ones from the bad ones. And track them accordingly.

Habit Stacking: Stack your new habits with the old one. For example; after waking up, I will exercise for 5 minutes, after exercise I will take a bath, after taking bath I will read newspaper.

The Secret to self-control:  It is easy to practice self-restraint when you do not have to use it very often. In the short-run, you can choose to overpower temptation but in the long-run, we become a product of the environment that we live in.

Second Law: Make it Attractive (Craving)

We need to make our habits attractive because it is the expectation of a rewarding experience that motivates us to act in the first place. Here is a strategy known as temptation bundling comes into play. Temptation bundling can make your habits more attractive. It links an action you want to do with other action you need to do.

The surrounding we live in, the culture we grow in determines which behaviors are attractive to us. We strive to adopt the habits that are praised by our society. One of the most effective things you can do to create good habits is to join a respectable and normal culture. Thus, if a certain behavior gets us respect and praise, we find it attractive.

Third Law: Make it Easy (Response)

The key to make something easy is repetition, not perfection. You do not need to map our every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it. Practice makes a man perfect. Remember, each time you repeat an action, you are actually activating a specific neural circuit that is linked with that habit. Making your habits easy and simple in just like removing the bend in the hose.

The Two-Minute Rule: When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. Start with the smallest version of the behavior and master it. Then, take it to intermediate level and repeat the process.

Fourth Law: Make it Satisfying

Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit. You can set a certain reward for yourself upon completing a certain goal. And that goal can be your new habit.

You need to feel satisfying if you want to stick to a new habit. The first three laws of behavior change make it obvious, attractive, and easy. The fourth law of behavior change make it satisfying.

The Best Way to Start a New Habit

Once an implementation intention has been set, you do not have to wait for inspiration to strike. Do I write a chapter today or not? Do I make it this morning or at lunch? When the moment of action occurs, there is no need to make a decision. Simply follow your predetermined plan. If you are still not sure when to start try the first day of week, month, or year. The first law of behavior change is to make it obvious. The two most common cues are time and location.

How to make good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible?

When you automate as much as your life possible, you can spend your effort on the task machine cannot do it. Each habit that we hand over to the authority of technology frees up time and energy to pour into the next stage of growth. A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that looks in better behavior in the future. The ultimate way to lock in future behavior is to automate your habits.

The Bottom Line

Packed with self-improvement proven tips, Atomic Habits will teach you how to make the minor changes that will change your habits and deliver remarkable results. When it comes to changing our habits for good reasons, we need to find out what exactly works for us. There are many scientifically proven methods we can try. James’ Atomic Habits is perfect blend of those strategies. that are easy to adopt. Atomic Habits is a definitive guide to get rid of bad behaviors and adopt the good ones in four simple and effortless steps. It is highly recommended book for anyone who wants to pursue in his life.

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