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Create an Upward Spiral: Tiny Habits for Big Happiness

Updated: Jan 27, 2018

Create an Upward Spiral: Tiny Habits for Big Happiness

How can you cultivate happiness habits? This episode explores the relationship of habits to a life of more joy and meaning. You can learn to harness the power of mindlessness (Yes, really, mindlessness!) to make little changes and get big results.

“The true keys to happiness lie in changing the way we think and behave, seeking out experiences such as savoring a beautiful moment and taking a picture of it, thanking a friend, writing a gratitude journal, or performing random acts of kindness. Such habits add up to create an upward spiral that boosts happiness.”

― Dan Buettner, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

Key Takeaways

  • Based on Blue Zones research we know that the factors that most impact health, happiness and longevity are structured into daily life, and done without ‘thinking’ about it, allowing them to become automatic. These automatic behaviors--these 'habits'--create a powerful upward spiral of happiness.

  • How can we use this to do something that seems to be in opposition to mindfulness: learn to harness the harness the energy of mindless moments? This is captured well in Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before, in which she says the key to habit is to “decide not to decide”:

I concluded that the real key to habit is decision making—or, more accurately, the lack of decision making. A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided. I decide, then I don’t decide; mindfully, then mindlessly….this freedom from decision making is crucial…
  • Habits are essential for happiness, something supported by brain science and research in neuroplasticity. When we achieve a goal, dopamine, a feel good hormone, is released in the brain. Dopamine is essential in habit formation. As you form the habit you can feel joy as a reward, helping you maintain the habit and move toward happiness.

  • Habit change is a practice, just like happiness itself. It is powerful when done in tiny but meaningful ways. Habits can be "stupid small" (Guise, Mini Habits), mini, or tiny and still be incredibly effective.

Today’s Challenge

Create a Tiny Habit

Use BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits program to ‘create an upward spiral’ to successful habit formation and to happiness. To borrow from BJ Fogg, “you are going to plant a tiny seed in the right spot.”

  • Decide on a tiny habit you want to cultivate. What can you do more of to choose happiness in your life? Whatever you choose, get clear on specifically what you want to do: decide not to decide.

  • Sign up for a Tiny Habits session at tinyhabits.com. This is totally free and so much fun!

Bonus: If you want to build on the power of habit formation and retraining the brain to see the positive, you can make your tiny habit BJ Fogg’s absolute favorite habit for finding happiness. As you get out of bed in the morning, place your feet on the floor and say, “This is going to be a great day.”


Stephen Guise, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results (Volume 1)

Dan Buettner, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life

Braco Pobric, Habits and Happiness: How to Become Happier and Improve Your Wellbeing by Changing Your Habits

BJ Fogg at TEDxMaui, Tiny surprises for happiness and health

BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont, Forget big change, start with a tiny habit

Tiny Habits Online Course tinyhabits.com

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