20 seconds to happiness

Around 40% of all of our daily activities are habits.  That is 40% of the time, we are not making conscious decisions about what we are doing.  This is actually a good thing.  Habits are efficient.  Thinking is exhausting.  It consumes energy and willpower.  Think of thinking/decision making as a resource and we can only use up so much of that resource a day.  As with any resource, we want to use it as wisely as possible.  Habits let us save the thinking/decision making resource for the more important decisions.

So habits are good . . . . . . . well sort of.  Habits are good at making conserving our thinking/decision making resource.  Whether a given habit is a good or bad decision, depends on whether the outcome of that decision is consistent with your long term healthy goals.  So much of our success depends on ensuring our habits are supporting our long term goals. 

According to The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Anchor we can change our habits with really small changes.  Shawn argues that if you make good habits 20 seconds easier to accomplish you are significantly more likely to  actually do that habit.  He uses his efforts to practice guitar as his habit.  Simply by getting a cheap guitar stand and moving it to a more convenient location was all it took to start practicing.  Similarly, making a bad habit 20 seconds harder to accomplish makes it much more likely we will not do this habit.

We can apply this lesson in our personal habits, our professional habits, our team habits and even in our customer habits.  Big changes come from small changes consistently applied.  Look at how you can make good things just a little bit easier and make bad things just a little bit harder.  That little bit will accumulate over time.  It will make a big difference in your life.  Just start today.

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