All About Habits: Part 3

Enjoy reading part 3 of Alex’s analysis of habits!

Missed the first two posts?  No worries… here they are: Part 1 and Part 2

Keystone Habits
 What if I told you that you really only need to focus on a couple of habits that could change other habits? Author Charles Duhigg of The Power of Habit calls  them “keystone habits” and explains how we can develop them, and use them to improve our lives. Habits can range from the smallest behavior like biting your fingernails, all the way up to complex behavioral patterns. A keystone habit is simply a habit that correlates with other thoughts and behaviors. These keystone habits don’t have a cause and effect relationship with other habits, but they can help create a domino effect with them. This makes deciding and choosing which habit to focus on easy. Simply choose the one or two habits that make you perform other desirable behaviors. It might take some experimentation to actually discover all of the smaller habits that correlate with your keystone habit, but in the end, you will have more brain real estate available to focus on other things in life.

Examples of Keystone Habits

Regular exercise can trigger people to start eating healthier and feel motivated to cut out some of the higher calorie junk food in their diet. People who exercise also tend to have less perceived stress, are more productive at work, and have more patience. Exercise is also associated with having a better mood, better sleep, and having more confidence.

Making your bed every morning tends to correlate with exercising regularly and feeling well rested. Bed makers are also more likely to have increased productivity and a greater sense of well-being.

Tracking what you eat helps you learn more about your eating habits. This can motivate you to plan better meals and incorporate healthy snacks into your diet. In one National Institutes of Health study, tracking food helps people lose twice as much weight as their non tracking counterparts.


Changing a habit isn’t as easy as it sounds, and depending on the habit, it could take a tremendous amount of focus, energy, and time to replace a bad habit with something better. If the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, we tend to take action. That pain, along with the reward of a habit loop, can give us some motivation to develop and follow a plan. Intentionally planning and taking action is the key. If you take action long enough, and do the necessary course corrections along the way, there’s nothing stopping you from developing the life changing habits you are after.

Thanks Alex for all the AMAZING info on habits! Who knew there was so much that goes in to such simple things in our lives and that there are so many ways to change the way our minds work!

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Haven’t read the first two posts? No worries….here they are!


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