Have you ever listened to someone shareabout how they've completely transformed their lifeand you feel kind of intimidated? Like, I'm having troublemaking this one little change in my life. There's no way I could do all of that! Well, you can do more than you think. And Charles Duhigg, in his book“The Power of Habit,” says the key is something called “keystonehabits.” “Health is Wealth” is presented by Meridian Health Services.
With support fromLifeStream Services. “Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.” Notice first that Duhigg’s definitionsays this is a process that takes time. We're not looking for overnighttransformation here, but keystone habits start a processthat disrupts other habits. How do they do that? Or more importantly, how can you identifykeystone habits in your own life to make your own habit changesmore effective?.
I interviewed healthcare expertsabout some of the diseases and disorders, both mental and physical, that are common here in our communityand across the country. I asked each of themfor an example of a keystone habit in their area of expertise, and hopefully their examples willgive you ideas for your own situation. You'll hear those later in the series. First, let's break down a few of the ways that keystonehabits can disrupt other habits.
The first is by creating momentum through a concept called “small wins.” Dr. Anjolii Diaz, AssociateProfessor of Psychological Science at Ball State University, told methree things go into any habit change. Number one, motivation: the intentionto actually develop this new behavior. Number two, effort: the hard work of repeating that behaviorover and over. And number three, time: habits take time. Sometimesthe reason that our long term goals.
Don't come into fruition is because, because we're not experiencing any type of reinforcementsor reward along the way. But if you chunk them down into short or shorter term goals, short term things, we're going to be experiencingmore of those rewards. And when we experiencethose rewards, that can keep us motivated to put in the time,to put in the effort that we need. Charles Duhigg defines small wins as “a.
Steady application of a small advantage.”By breaking down our big goals, we can start with a keystone habitthat's shorter term or more manageable. In other words,more likely to give us a win. This is a conceptsometimes called snowballing. Think of rolling a snowball downa big hill. It starts small, but as it goes downhill,it picks up more snow, more inertia, more speed until it's big enoughto flatten anyone that gets in the way. And keystone habits can createsmall wins in communities, too. Jena Ashby,Director of the 8twelve Coalition.
In south Muncie neighborhoods,told me one of her favorite projects they do every year is a programcalled Small Sparks. It is small micro-grants to neighbors that other neighbors are the ones who lookat all of the applications and decide which projects are going to get fundedeach year. Those neighbors then receive a grant of upto $500 to do whatever they have written their proposal for that improvesquality of life in the neighborhood. It's all kinds of projects,but it's really fun to see that short term.
Success happen. And then people, they do believe, okay,if I can make a difference in this small thing, what are the bigger thingsthat I can begin to have influence in? A second way that keystonehabits can disrupt other habits is by creating structuresthat help other positive habits flourish. Abby Gluvna,Project Manager at Recovery Cafe Muncie, shared with me about her processof recovery from substance use disorder and the underlying traumaof a sexual assault she'd experienced. What an incredibly hard process.
Her keystone habitat the very beginning of recovery created a structure that helpedother positive habits take root. I pretty much had to startjust putting myself first. I had to put my boundaries first. I had to put my feelings first. What was going to help me heal and growfrom that situation? You know, other peoplehad opinions and suggestions, but if they didn't work for meor if it wasn't, you know, of my interest, then I had to like kind of cut that off.
So really just putting myself firstin, choosing myself every day to get betterand to let myself feel those things, because I knew that as a personwho is healing and is starting recovery, you have to almost relive that stuff. So the habit I chosewas just to put myself first. A third way keystone habits can disruptother habits is by helping create awareness of cues or rewardswe aren't even aware of. Charles Duhigg’s concept of The Habit Loopsays any habit has three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward.
Keystone habits can help us become awareof our cues and rewards, and sometimes even the routinesthemselves. In “The Power of Habit,”Duhigg gives the example of a study of 1600 peoplewho were trying to lose weight. Researchers simply asked the participantsto keep a food journal, writing downeverything they ate in their day. And as that became a habit, participants started to find patternsthey didn't even know existed. For example,.
Some of them noticed that they alwaysseemed to eat a snack mid-morning, so they started bringing a piece of fruitto the office to eat when that mid-morning hunger hit. The researchers didn't suggest that,but the keystone habit of food journaling had made them aware of anothersmall routine they could change. Six months into the study, participantswho had kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as thosewho had not made it into a daily habit. So when you're looking to createhealthier habits in your own life and you're trying to identify a keystonehabit to start with,.
Look for these three things: habitsthat can build momentum through small wins, habits that can create structuresthat help other habits flourish. And habitsthat can create awareness of other habits – their cues, routines, and rewards. But Charles Duhigg also saysthat dozens of studies show one keystone habit is the single most importantkeystone habit for individual success: willpower. There's a sort ofexperiment you may have seen people post videos of online.
Where a parent sits their young childdown in front of a marshmallow. The parent leaves the roomwith the camera rolling. But first they offer the kid a deal. You can eat the marshmallow right now. Or if you wait a few minutes until I getback, you can have two marshmallows. This actuallyoriginated in a Stanford experiment that tested the willpowerof a group of four-year-olds. About 30% of themmanaged to wait and got the double treat when the researcherscame back in the room.
Years later, the researchers tracked down those four-year-oldswho were now high-schoolers. They found that the ones that were ableto delay their gratification at age four now had the best grades, had averageSAT scores 200 points higher, they were more popular,and they'd done fewer drugs. If you knew how to avoid the temptationof a marshmallow as a preschooler, that willpower ability would also help you finish your homeworkor resist peer pressure as you got older. Lisa Roossien, ExecutiveDirector of Recovery Cafe Muncie,.
Gave me a great example of how intentional breathing has helped her build willpower. Just at my desk, in the car, at the busstop, focusing on my breath for a minute or two, and try to justfocus on my breath for a minute or two. Knowing that I took time for myself,I took a few minutes for myself, I did what I saidI was going to do, that builds integrity. That builds self-esteem. I'm doing an estimable thing. I said I was going to pay attentionto my breath and I did it.
And so this next thing I think,I think I might exercise. I think I might just do 10 minutes on the Stairmaster and I did it. Like, there was a time where I would have all these ideas, like “I should,I should, I should, I should.” And all these “I shoulds”,it was killing me. Like, I just felt awful about myselfbecause I wasn't actually doing anything.
But showing up for one small thing,like taking a breath for a couple minutes, setting the intention to do it,and then doing it, builds this muscle of “I can and I will. I believe in myself. I did it last time. I'll do it again.” Lisa is exactly right. Willpower isn't just a skill. It's a muscle. By building that willpowermuscle little by little, you'll see that.
Strength spill overinto other areas of your life. That's what makes willpoweran essential keystone habit. If you've got a great Keystone habit or if you're just starting one,let us know in the comments. Like and subscribe because we've got more“Health is Wealth” episodes on the way. In our next episode,I explore why higher health care spending doesn'tactually make our community healthier. And if you enjoyed learning about keystonehabits with me, check out “The Power of Habit” by CharlesDuhigg to learn even more.
Thanks for watching.I'll see you next time.