Every once in a while you come across a book that changes your life. This is one of those books.
It calmly and clearly lays out what research says about habits and then systematically explains how to incorporate this research into improving your life. I found several gems that I immediately incorporated into how I operate.
In particular the section about recognizing what cues will prompt you to break your habit and creating "if...then..." statements that prepare yourself to respond to that cue in a way that supports your desired change. Instantly useful for me!
What I most appreciated was the tone. That is captured in this quote; ""The true aim of personal change is to turn our minds away from miracle cures and quick fixes, and adopt a long-term strategy. Habit change isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. The right mindset is to wake up tomorrow almost exactly the same person, except for one small change-a small change that you can replicate every day until you don't notice it anymore, at which point it's time to plan another small change . . ."
There are excellent chapters on a variety of habits that research indicates people find rewarding such as, creativity, eating better, exercising. He references "The How of Happiness" in the happiness chapter, which is an astoundingly helpful and well written book as well.
There is an excellent chapter on depressive thinking habits. Yes depression is heavily based on habitual thinking. It was so clear and precise that I typed out notes to help myself internalize it. They are below.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their lives, and understanding how to realistically plan and carry out that process.
- There is a very consistent process to depressive thinking habits.
- It is much more efficient to replace a depressing thought or obsessive action with a different thought or action. Just trying to stop has a very low success ratio. Instead replace.
- Negative thought loops take specific events and extrapolate them into the following conclusions:
- This is all my fault
- It will never get better
- I can't do anything about it
- These kinds of thoughts are exactly what I want to be aware of as soon as they arise. They can be replaced.
- Stuff happens sometimes. It's one of those things.
- This is only temporary
- I can learn from this
- Rumination on problems is strongly linked with insanity.
- Overthinking patterns - illusion of fixing but not really going anywhere
- Black and White thinking: If I'm not perfect, I'm a failure. Thinking of all the things I've done wrong and ruminating on how I should've done better.
- Personalization: Bad things that happen are all my fault. Thinking of all the ways I made poor decisions that led to this point.
- Catastrophizing: Little evidence to draw huge conclusions about self value or ability. I always do this wrong. I'll never get things right. Etc.
- Talking rationally to the self is a good technique to combat rumination. Are these thoughts realistic Are they helpful
- Decide how to take action to make improve the sitatution and set the action in motion. Action removes the rumination.