Happiness Principles To Live By – 6 of 7

You will have to read Shawn Achor’s book to fully understand why this sixth principle is called the 20-second rule. Though lowering activation energy for habits you want to adapt and increasing it for those you want to let go off… that can be practiced.

Here’s an example:

  • I smoke – not a great source of vitamin C – but I always have them with me
  • I do not take vitamin C – thus, logically you would say, those are at a fair distant for me to take them

Imagine I would want to quit smoking and start taking those vitamins in return. The way the 20-second rule principle works is to ‘simply’ keep those cigarettes every day a little bit further away from me, while at the same time putting the vitamin C closer (ok, I would first need to buy them).

I’ll be increasing the activation effort to smoke a little bit every day, while lowering the activation energy to take vitamins. Eventually… you guess… it is so much easier to take the vitamin, because those are now standing next to me, than to get up and walk through the whole house (or beyond – depending on the level of addiction) to find a smoke. It becomes a ‘not worth the effort anymore’ activity.

— and no… I haven’t yet tried this with the smoking… — yes, I should, I know…


How to Turn Bad Habits into Good Ones by Minimizing Barriers to Change

Common sense is not common action. Would you be surprised if I told you that cigarettes are not a great source of vitamin C? Or that watching hours of reality television will not dramatically raise your IQ? Probably not. Similarly, we all know that we should exercise, sleep eight hours, eat healthier, and be kind to others. But does this common knowledge make doing these things any easier? Of course not. Because in life, knowledge is only part of the battle. Without action, knowledge is often meaningless.

If our brains have the capacity to change, as we now know they do, why is changing our behavior so hard, and how can we make it easier?

This strategy is universally applicable: Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.

Passage from workout – get something in sight and hand reach to start doing it

Let me know what you think