Creatures of habit

I’ve been thinking about the nature of human beings recently — “theological anthropology” in theology jargon. Unitarian Universalists have this myth that we are rational human beings. Neuroscience increasingly confirms that this is a myth, not fact, and that we humans are not particularly rational beings.

If we were rational in the way Unitarian Universalist myth seems to assume, all of us would floss our teeth regularly — of course many of us don’t floss regularly, because we are not as rational as we’d like to believe. But you can use your rational mind to change your behavior by making use of the power of habits — tiny habits, that is. Jenny told me about a technique being developed by BJ Fogg, director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford, called “Tiny Habits.” Back in January, KQED summarized the difference between Fogg’s approach and classic behavior models:

“The strength of a habit is defined, at least the way I see it, is how much of a decision was that behavior. So if you’re deciding ‘yeah, I’m going to go to the gym today,’ it’s a pretty good indication it’s not a habit. Habits are things you do without deciding,” says Fogg.

Classic behavior models focus on decision-making as a key component of behavior. Fogg is trying to get away from that by working on a new model of habit formation that’s built on baby steps.

Read more at Fogg’s Web site, TinyHabits.com. (And thanks, Jenny, for the tip!)

One thought on “Creatures of habit”

  1. Habits are perfectly rational way of dealing with the unexpected. Habits add order to our lives and allow us to easily forecast. UUs famous for breaking habits in the name of universal rights.

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