The Reading Room
Published: 2018, Random House Business
James Clear’s book Atomic Habits overriding theme is the concept that even one minor change, practiced daily, can lead to drastic changes in peoples’ lifestyles. He explains how while some habits may be as minuscule as an atom, the accumulation of these atomic habits can bring a notable change in one’s lives.
The book provides a detailed methodology to build good habits and break bad ones and introduces four laws to achieve the above- Make it obvious (Cue), Make it attractive (craving), Make it easy (response) and make it satisfying (reward). He introduces the cue, craving, response, and reward matrix which is the backbone of atomic habits and the path to build good and break bad habits. In short, cue triggers craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and becomes associated with the cue.
1st Law- Make it obvious (Cue) – Every habit is initiated by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues that stand out. Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment. Gradually, your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behaviour. The context becomes the cue.
2nd Law- Make it attractive (craving) – The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. Habits are a dopamine- driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act. It is the anticipation of a reward- not the fulfilment of it- that gets us to act. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike and chance of us making a good habit. And contra to this, highlight the benefits of avoiding a bad habit to make it unattractive.
3rd Law- Make it easy (response) – Human behaviour follows the Law of Least Effort. We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Reduce the friction associated with good behaviours and vice versa for bad. When frictions are less habits are easy to develop.
4th Law- Make it satisfying (reward) – We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying. The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards. The Cardinal rule of Behaviour Change: What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided. The first three laws of behaviour change – make it obvious, make it attractive and make it easy- increase the odds that a behaviour will be performed this time. The fourth law increases the odds that a behaviour will be repeated next time.
The author concludes with the Greek parable known as Sorites Paradox. If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you would not claim that he or she is rich. But what if you add another? And another? Similarly, can one tiny change transform your life? But what if we add another? And another? Each improvement is like a adding a grain of sand to the positive side of the scale, slowly tilting things in our favour. If we stick to this, we are hitting a tipping point and are likely stick with good habits.
The book makes for a fantastic read, with not just numerous examples of people who made small changes to achieve big in life, but an easy to follow four laws to transform our lives. To breaking bad and building good! Cheers
The information contained above and in other entries in the Ocean Dial Book Review Series is intended for general information and entertainment purposes only, and should not be relied upon in making, or refraining from making, any investment decisions. No information provided herein should or can be taken to constitute any form of advice or recommendation as to the merits of any investment decision. You should take independent advice from a suitably qualified investment adviser before making any investment decisions.
Published: 2023, Bloomsbury Publishing
A Northern Wind brings to vivid life the period between October 1962 and February 1965 in Britain. With masterful storytelling refreshing familiar events, this reveals in all their variety, the experiences of the people living through this history.
Published: 2022, Doubleday; Penguin.
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.
But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Forced to resign, she reluctantly signs on as the host of a cooking show, Supper at Six. But her revolutionary approach to cooking, fuelled by scientific and rational commentary, grabs the attention of a nation.
Published: 2015, Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited
This personal diary records the many small moments that constitute a life of harmony-with the self, the natural world, and friends, family and passersby. ‘A Book of Simple Living’ is a gift of beauty and wisdom from India’s most loved, and most understated, writer.