INTRODUCTION: Change Can Be Easy (and Fun)
Tiny is mighty.
Over the last twenty years, I’ve found that most everyone wants to make some kind of change: eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more, reduce stress, get better sleep. We want to be better parents and partners. We want to be more productive and creative.
there is a painful gap between what people want and what they actually do.
The problem is with the approach itself, not with you.
We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw—not a personal flaw.
Once you remove any hint of judgment, your behavior becomes a science experiment. A sense of exploration and discovery is a prerequisite to success
information alone does not reliably change behavior.
The assumption is this: If we give people the right information, it will change their attitudes, which in turn will change their behaviors.
I’ve found that there are only three things we can do that will create lasting change: Have an epiphany, change our environment, or change our habits in tiny ways.
The essence of Tiny Habits is this: Take a behavior you want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life, and nurture its growth. If you want to create long-term change, it’s best to start small.
TINY IS FAST
we feel like we don’t have the hours to cultivate new positive habits.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day? Cooking a healthy dinner every night? Writing daily in a gratitude journal? Forget it.
You could start tiny.
With the Tiny Habits method, you focus on small actions that you can do in less than thirty seconds. You will quickly wire in new habits, and then they will grow naturally.
TINY CAN START NOW
Tiny allows you to start right now. It meets you where you are.
I invite you to start practicing a new habit first thing each and every morning. It’s simple. And it takes about three seconds.
After you put your feet on the floor in the morning, immediately say this phrase, “It’s going to be a great day.” As you say these seven words, try to feel optimistic and positive.
Or: “Today is going to be awesome.”
it will help you learn the single most important skill in behavior change—feeling successful.
TINY IS SAFE
A baby learning to walk and falling down isn't actually getting hurt.
No one will sabotage you. This reduces the pressure on you.
There is no real failure in Tiny Habits. There are little stumbles.
TINY CAN GROW BIG
the only consistent, sustainable way to grow big is to start small.
Pervasive idea: you’ve got to go big or go home.
We live in an aspiration-driven culture that is rooted in instant gratification.
People get frustrated and demoralized when things don’t happen quickly. It’s natural. It’s normal.
TINY DOESN’T RELY ON MOTIVATION OR WILLPOWER
A few years before I met Juni, her mother died from diabetes. It should have been a wake-up call—all the motivation Juni would ever need. But she tried to numb the pain with more and more bubblegum ice cream.
Juni thought that conquering sugar was a matter of willpower, that she wasn’t strong enough to say no.
She realized that her sugar addiction was a design issue, not a character flaw.
TINY IS TRANSFORMATIVE
Feeling successful helps us wire in new habits, and it motivates us to do more.
You learn how to feel good in your life.
She needed to start small to grow big, and she needed to feel good about something. This new habit led to others that helped her feel successful.
The Anatomy of Tiny Habits
1. ANCHOR MOMENT
An existing routine (like brushing your teeth).
The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behavior.
2. NEW TINY BEHAVIOR
You do the Tiny Behavior immediately after the Anchor Moment.
3. INSTANT CELEBRATION
Such as saying, “I did a good job!” You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behavior.
TINY STARTS WITH A KEY
you can decode behavior.
Putting your toothbrush in a new place. Unloading the dishwasher every morning before breakfast. Watering the garden in the evening. Doing two squats while your morning coffee brews…
What I discovered is that all of these behaviors emerge from the same components. Their relationship drives our every action and reaction—they are the basic ingredients of human behavior.
In the chapters that follow I give you all the exercises you need to redesign your habits.
you can be the person you want to be.
Tiny Exercises to Start Practicing Tiny Habits
don’t try to be perfect.
don’t get stressed or uptight. Be flexible and have fun!
EXERCISE #1: THE FLOSSING HABIT
- Find a type of floss you like
- Set the floss on your bathroom counter, ideally right by your toothbrush.
- After you set down your toothbrush, pick up the floss container and tear off some floss.
- Floss one tooth.
- Smile at yourself in the mirror and feel good about creating a new habit.
you can floss more than one tooth if you want, but view anything more than one tooth as extra credit.
EXERCISE #2: DAILY CHOCOLATE
- Purchase some dark chocolate that you believe is healthy
- Eat a small bit of it in the morning after you brew your coffee or when you take your vitamins.
- Savor the taste of the chocolate and feel happy about adding a healthy habit to your life.
EXERCISE #3: REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU CHANGE BEST BY FEELING GOOD
People change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.
- Write this phrase on a small piece of paper: I change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.
- Tape the paper to your bathroom mirror or anywhere you will frequently see it.
- Read the phrase often.
- Notice how this insight works in your life (and for the people around you).