What a Stanford Professor Does After Peeing: My Experiment (again) with Tiny Habits

B.J.Fogg is a Professor at Stanford University, USA and an experimental psychologist by education. He studies about behavior changes.

More importantly, he does 2 push-ups after he pees. ‘And I promptly wash my hands after that,’ he says.

What is Tiny Habits?

‘Doing 2 push-ups after he pees’ – is part of Dr.Fogg’s self-experiment on building ‘Tiny Habits’.  It has helped him lose 25 pounds. Fogg’s Tiny Habits program is one of the first useful techniques I learnt to build a habit. He runs this 1-week accountability program to help you learn the patterns of forming new habits.

How Does It Work?

It requires you to build the habit around an intuitive framework.

“After I ____, I will ________”

Rather than relying on our unpredictable will-power and motivation, Fogg’s method builds on a natural process of habit stacking. It basically has 3 components:

  1. Habit: Find the tiniest of the tiny steps of a habit you want to build. For example,
    • If you want to start an exercise habit, start by doing 2 push-ups.
    • If you want to start running, start by putting on your running shoes (not run!).
    • If you want to get the habit of reading, start the tiny habit of reading a sentence, etc.
  2. Anchor: This is the key to this method. Find a trigger/ cue – an already established action or a behavior that the new habit will follow. For example,
    • After I pee…
    • After the phone rings…
    • After my feet touch the ground in the morning…
    • After I put my key on the hook… etc.
  3. Celebration: Follow your tiny habit with a personal cheering that you do for yourself on accomplishing the tiny habit.
What I Am Going To Do After I Pee?

For quite sometime, I have been trying to master the art of habit formation. I struck goldmine when I explored and experimented with B.J.Fogg’s Tiny Habits program. I have enrolled myself in the June 01-05 program. (You can join here). Yes, I have made my own secret plans to do 2 squats after I pee. Not just that, but 2 more other things.

After I pee, I will do 2 squats. After I wake up, I will do 2 push-ups. After I go to my office, I will find my water bottle. 

Find Your 3 Tiny Habits

For more Tiny Habits inspiration – look here. I made my own long list of Tiny Habits (with ‘After I do ___, I will ____’ format). B.J.Fogg (or his coaches) personally reads and emails to all the Habiteers enrolled in the program. You too can enroll for the upcoming program from June 01-05. All the best for your experiment with Tiny Habits!

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Follow Your Inner Moonlight

“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

~ Allen Ginsberg

I was inspired by what I read on ‘What is Your True Purpose in Life?‘ by Kim.
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So, I too made a list…
  • live a life of creativity
  • cherish the little moments
  • eat gregariously
  • speak truly
  • listen intently
  • listen to nature
  • say enough
  • live lightly
  • forgive myself
  • write freely
  • share honestly
  • fight for a cause
  • live with purpose
  • be at peace

What is your purpose in life.. Share yours in the comment.

Jyotika, A New French Law and My 3-Year Old Niece

What does a French Law, a crazy taxi-driver in Kolkatta and a new flick starring Jyotika have in common?

Recently we made a trip to Mamallapuram and when we were returning in the evening, I apparently felt the change in the weather right when we were crossing Sholinganallur (signalling the entry of urban area). The transformation of the weather was so evident that my uncle and aunt who were visiting Chennai from Coimbatore for the summer holidays said it out loudly.

I was taken aback when my aunt told me that their 3-year old little daughter said, ‘Verkkuthu!’ (which means sweaty) for the first time to her. She wasn’t exactly proud of it, neither was I happy about it.

Recently France has passed a law making ‘Green roofs’ mandatory compliance as part of any new building construction. And a week back I read about the news on a taxi with rooftop garden. And didn’t Jyothika, in the movie, ’36 Vayathinilae’, discovered herself by rooftop gardening.

Now do you see the connection. There is something blooming here!

Previously I wrote about living a simpler life. I am guessing, roof top gardening and other alternative practices is something that we must explore seriously on.

While back I collated an potential features of a green house using mind mapping. Though it sounds like a dream, the technology is already available with us to make it a reality.

1. Green Energy: First and the most know concept of a Green House is sourcing energy from renewable sources of energy like Solar & Wind Energy. Reducing the cost of power grid by aiming for decentralized energy production and using energy efficient instruments like CFL light bulbs can also be included in this.

2. Green Food: Being conscious of buying locally grown food (to avoid loss due to food mileage), better still growing one’s own food are another set of features.

3. Green Cooking: Using solar water heaters, gobar/ bio-gas for cooking are better alternatives

4. Green Water: Harvesting rainwater, recycling water and using water use efficiency systems like double-geared flush and WUE taps are some examples

5. Green Sanitation: Reusing/ recycling dry wastes like paper, plastic, metal and composting wet wastes (domestic/ kitchen wastes) are ideal features. I have heard of Ecosan toilets also.

6. Green Design: Theoretically, there seems to be lot of discussion on Sustainable Architecture, Bio-designs. Hopefully, we will see more of it soon in reality.

I hope, we will be able to adopt, if not all, at least of few of these practices in our homes.

As for my niece, she had left to Coimbatore. The first thing she asked her mom the next morning is, ‘Can we go to mama’s home?’ I hope I will give her more than enough reasons to welcome her to Chennai.

If you have any ideas or practices that you already adopting at your home, kindly share it with me. I will be glad to hear of such practices.

4 Proven Strategies to Make Habits Work for You

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

– Aristotle

Our life is composed full of habits – both good and bad.

There is huge gap between ‘What we know’ and ‘What we do’. We simply fail to create the necessary discipline to convert what we know to what we do. This is what I call the intention-behaviour gap.

Let’s face it – it is not that we are dumb or stupid to not know the difference between good and bad habits. We simply fail to acknowledge the struggle between the mind and the body.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,”

– St.Paul

However, there is a way out. Here are few tips that helped me and probably would help you build some healthy habits.

  1. Start small: It could be as simple as ‘Floss one tooth’ suggested by a Stanford Professor, B.J.Fogg of Tiny Habits. Or trying starting your exercise habit by ‘Doing one push-up’ as suggested by Stephen Guise of Mini habits. I have been experimenting with a variety of tiny habits: doing 5-second stretches in the morning, building 2 minutes morning/ evening routines. It is easy to conquer and small wins is helping me built momentum to continue. Consistency is the key.
  2. Focus on one: Trying to conquer all at once is difficult – we all know it. But I learned it the hard way. I got greedy and tried too much in one shot. By narrowing my focus on just one habit at a time, I was able to concentrate. It helped me build some great habits:
    • I now got the habit of drinking a glass of water, immediately after I wake up.
    • I now start my work day at office (before I rampantly start checking my emails), by creating a daily to-do list.
    • I now drink at least a cup of fruit juice everyday.
  3. Schedule it: It is always better to allocate a particular time of the day to build your habit routine. When I started my habit building process, I realized the best time to build a routine is before I go to work or after I came back from work. For me, the 7 pm at night became my habit-building time. I have since then started including my exercise routine, daily meditation practice and writing everyday process during this time. So schedule your habit.
  4. Habit stacking: Just like most of you, ‘I forget to do it’ is the most common excuse I gave myself. Solution: Habit stacking. It is the art of queuing your new habit to an already existing habit.
    1. I will do meditation immediately after coming back from office.
    2. I will drink a cup of water immediately after I wake up.

After is the key word here. It is a great trick and use it to your advantage.

“Our greatest battle in our lives is the one between habit and knowledge!”

– Vedathiri Maharishi

I hope the tricks above will help you win in the battle.

Do share your wins in the comments below. I will be happy to hear your stories of success.

How Creativity Works, & How to Do It

My note: This post originally appeared on ZenHabits by Leo Babauta

I’m continually trying to create new things, from new blog posts, to books and courses and novels, to new ventures.

And as I create these things, I’ve been watching my creation process, hoping to learn about how it works. For most creators, I think it’s just this Black Box of Creativity, where cool things come out but it’s not clear what you need to put in, or what the hell happens inside the black box. It’s a mystery.

Except it doesn’t have to be.

Creativity is a powerful tool to help anyone, from the parent trying to find new things to inspire his kids, to the small businessperson looking for a new direction, to the writer or artist stuck or feeling uninspired.

So in this post, I’ll briefly explain how creativity works (as I’ve observed it), and then share some tips on how to do it.

How Creativity Works

When you come up with a new idea, where does it come from? Does it just come out of the blue? Are you a genius that has created something from nothing, godlike and mysterious in your ways?

No. It’s not a completely new idea — it’s something new created from one or more old things.

Creativity is the taking of old ideas, and remixing them in new ways that is individual to the creator. The raw materials are out there for anyone to use — look at the ideas all around you, in the online world and in the real world as you walk around each day. There are millions and billions of these ideas, and you can remix them in new ways.

They say there are no new ideas, but the truth is, we can use old ideas in new ways.

Let’s look at a few brief examples:

  • Zen Habits was invented as I studied Zen concepts of mindfulness and presence, along with the ideas of productivity, simplicity and creating habits. I combined them all in various ways to create my approach to life that I share here, and am still remixing these and other ideas in different ways each year.
  • Zen itself is a remixing of ideas of Chán Buddhism from China with the Japanese culture, and Chán Buddhism is (essentially) a refocusing of the ideas of Buddhism on meditation as the key path to enlightenment. All of these remixing and refocusing of ideas were gradual and evolutionary rather than sudden creations.
  • Twitter was invented by a number of people, each of whom contributed ideas that shaped the social network, but at its base, Twitter remixed the ideas of text messaging with blogging and other existing online social network ideas.

You can see how creativity works — take existing ideas, and remix them, often multiple times in a process of evolution as new ideas come into the mix.

So how do we do it? Well, there’s no one way, but below, I’ll offer some ideas.

How to Do It

What follows are some ideas I’ve found to be important in my experience:

  1. Create time for solitude. In interviewing others, I found that solitude is the No. 1 creative habit of highly creative people. If you’re immersed in online distractions and other busy-ness, you’ll never have the space to consider the ideas you’ve gleaned from elsewhere, or think about how to remix them. So while connection is important (see other steps below), time for solitude is just as critical and often forgotten.
  2. Search for interesting ideas. What are other people doing? Don’t read about the ideas of others so you can compare yourself to them and feel bad, but simply for the cultivation of interesting ideas. They’re all over, in blogs and online magazines, to the people you meet every day who are doing interesting things, to the friends and family you interact with regularly. Read a lot, observe more.
  3. Keep an idea file. As you find interesting ideas, throw them into a text file. You don’t need to ever use them, but just keep notes. You can review this every couple of weeks, and see if anything sparks something for you.
  4. Reflect on ideas, apply them to your field. Are you a novelist? Can you take ideas from your favorite books, like magical realism or suspense devices, and put them into yours somehow? Whatever your field, there are ideas from within your field, and other places, that could possibly be applied to what you’re doing. Take a few moments, maybe in the shower or on your commute or on a daily walk or run, to think about how you might apply these ideas to your projects. Then write them in your idea file — you don’t have to do these new ideas, but if they really excite you, consider it.
  5. Iterate on what you’ve come up with. Remixing a couple of ideas in new ways isn’t the end of the process. You might find new ideas to add to the mix. You might remix the same ideas in new ways. The process continues for as long as you continue to stir the pot, and could get better and better, so don’t give up on your stew.