Do you know how to celebrate and cheer yourself on? Every morning, after my feet touch the floor, I do something incredibly small that you might not notice.
Even if you were watching me, you might blink and miss it. I discovered this thing and trained myself to do it when I was going through the hardest year of my adult life . 5 years later I still perform this behavior almost every morning without trying - and it still makes my life better.
You want to know what it is? It's small. It’s called a “To-be statement celebration”. I'll share a few reasons why it's so amazing in the rest of this post, but you have to read on. Here's what it is:
Here is an example of a "To-be statement"
Here is what I do: After MY FEET TOUCH THE FLOOR, I SAY A "TO-BE" STATEMENT, TAKE ONE GIANT DEEP BREATH, then celebrate by SILENTLY CLAPPING MY HANDS OVER MY HEAD WITH A BIG SMILE TO MYSELF.
An example "to be" statement is - "today, I am going to be calm" or "today, I am going to be excited". Whatever comes to mind in that moment.
The deep breath - is my form of a tiny act of meditation.
This is the tiny habit recipe that got me through depression and is still the first thing I do every morning.
If I look back over the last four years, this is likely the root of my meditation habit and all the positive shit that's happening in my life right now. The best part is, four years later I'm still doing it and it still helps me.
Let's break down why this is amazing...
First - it taught me to find behavior anchors in my normal life.
This changed the way I see my behaviors. I can now spot clear beginnings and endings to larger behaviors and I know how to use those anchors to create new habits.
What is an anchor? As long as I get out of bed, my feet are going to touch the floor. This is an anchor. The great thing about this action is it's 100% automatic. I don't have to think about it or try to make it happen. It just happens. In behavior modification terms, this is called an "anchor".
The easiest way to create a habit is to link a small action to the end of an already automatic behavior (an anchor) and feed the shit out of it with celebration (dopamine). #science
Second - I learned how to create success momentum and eventually full stack (larger) behaviors by making things tiny first.
I get motivated by seeing what other people are doing. When I see someone running up a hill with power and finesse - I want to be able to do that.
Or maybe a better example for you is YouTube. When you watch someone on YouTube doing something you want to do, you want to be able to do that too. But then something goes wrong.
You aren't whatever you want to be, yet. Or, like me, you aren't an ultra runner, yet.
The reality sets in and you get down about your current situation. Or if this doesn't happen we do something else. We get super motivated, we use a bunch of willpower and we make our best effort. This is awesome at first! But then we eventually lose momentum, energy, and give up.
We can't sprint forever. Think: diets, fitness regimes, writing challenges, really anything where we try hard to push outside of our normal zone of comfort. This is called massive action in training speak.
I'm not saying that massive action is bad. Massive action has it's place as a training concept and it works when used properly as part of system. But if we repeatedly rely on massive action we will by proxy train ourselves to be mediocre. Even worse we will injure our minds and bodies and give up completely.
But making things tiny meant that I had to learn to make a larger behavior tiny while still maintaining the idea of the large behavior in my mind. This is super important. Learning to maintain the essence of the behavior in my mind while making something small allowed my identity to change before I was doing the larger thing.
For example: the "to be" statement and one deep breath was like meditating for an hour to me.
*** This has been written about extensively by James Clear in Atomic Habits and researched by Dr. BJ Fogg.
Third - I taught myself to celebrate stupid-small things the build up.
And finally to root the tiny habit in my brain I had to learn to feed it with dopamine. This means I had to celebrate doing this stupid-small action. This was completely backward of what my mind wanted to do.
My mind would say: Why would I want to celebrate doing something small? Isn't this like giving everyone a trophy? Don't be weak... celebrate only big things!"
This is wrong. Just wrong.
I wanted to be like a meditator with a clear mind who was in control of how he felt. In my mind a meditator was the kind of person I wanted to be. That was someone who had a consistent meditation habit and was mentally healthy. But I wasn't there yet. How could I cheer myself on for doing this 4 second activity every morning?
But my tiny habit training changed this for me. Dr. BJ Fogg taught me that we needed to celebrate these tiny actions to nurture them into full stack behaviors and that relying on motivation and willpower was something completely different in the brain and body. This allowed me to create a new concept in my mind that I could honestly celebrate for what it was - A TINY HABIT.
And soon I learned my favorite way to celebrate. I love to clap both my hands over my head silently (or loud if I want) and smile to myself.
So every morning I would do my tiny habit. After my feet touched the floor... I would say a "to-be" statement, take a deep breath and celebrate by clapping both hands over my head.
And guess what!?!?!
I'm still doing it and it's still working!
The key is... this tiny habit allowed my identity to catch up into me being a meditator. And now there's a bunch of larger things that I do because of this one small thing that I do every morning.
What larger thing do you want to do? I'd love to help you make it a tiny habit.