Emotions Create Habits
For some people, it's hard to remember the victory celebration after doing a new behavior.
If you have a copy, I highly recommend you read Chapter 5 (“Emotions Create Habits”) of Tiny Habits to understand why this skill is a game changer.
For now, my advice: Please focus on feeling victorious.
Why? Because the ability to self-reinforce is key to rapid habit formation.
Here are a few of my favorites from the list of "100 Ways to Celebrate” in the Appendix of Tiny Habits (pages 288-290):
- Do a celebration dance.
- Hear trumpets in your head.
- Imagine an audience applauding.
Explore the options to **find what creates the most emotional impact for you**. Here's one way: Explore different celebrations in your head or aloud. After each option, pause to feel what happens inside.
Celebrate to form habits quickly
Hey, it's BJ Fogg here. I want to share a technique that is really important.
Now that you've selected new habits you want, I want to share how to create habits quickly.
Warning: My technique is unconventional. You may think I'm crazy. Please keep an open mind, okay?
What I share below is THE key to forming habits fast.
First, let me explain the psychology. Then I'll share my breakthrough technique.
Psychology of habits (fun version)
When you do a behavior and feel a positive emotion about it, your brain pays attention. It essentially thinks, "Wow, that felt good. I want to do that behavior again!"
I can summarize my research here in three words: Emotions create habits.
But wait, there's more: The stronger the emotion, the more deeply your brain rewires.
For emotion to rewire your brain, you must feel the emotion while you are doing the behavior, or immediately after.
For example, if you bite into a new chocolate snack, and you immediately find it super delicious (positive emotion), then your brain will want to eat that snack again. Your brain will remember the effect (I felt good!), and in the future it will prompt you to eat the snack again.
(Note: All habits form in the same way. The habit part of our brain doesn't care if society considers a behavior good or bad.)
My breakthrough technique
I created a way to form habits quickly. With this, you are hacking your brain (in a good way).
I call my technique celebration.
First, you find a way to make yourself feel a positive emotion. For example, you might say to yourself, "Good for me!" or you might do a fist pump and say "Yes!" out loud.
There are many ways to celebrate. You need to find what works for you—what makes YOU feel positive, uplifted, successful, and happy.
Once you have found a celebration, you can then use it—on demand—to create habits. In the Tiny Habits method, you do your celebration right after your new tiny behavior.
For example, if you want to make flossing a habit, immediately after you floss one tooth, you would look at yourself in the mirror, smile, and say "Good for me!"
This action will wire the flossing behavior into your brain. The stronger you feel the emotion, the faster you will form the flossing habit.
Celebration is a skill
Some people are naturally good at celebrating. It's easy and effective. And they find it fun. But most people will have to practice to gain this skill.
In habit formation the most important skill is the ability to feel good about your behavior as you do it, or immediately after.
Can you see why celebrating effectively is such an important skill?
If you are very good at celebrating, then you start wiring habits into your brain quickly, sometimes in a day or two. This skill gives you habit superpowers.
If you want some ideas about how to celebrate, ask your coach and reference Chapter 5 of my book, Tiny Habits.
When I was first doing Tiny Habits on my own, here was one way I would celebrate:
I'd say to myself, “If nothing else goes right today, at least I did one thing right. Good for you, BJ!”
Celebration accelerates habit formation
Instead of writing more about celebration, I share some videos. I hope these influence you to take this technique seriously. And please don't dismiss the power of rehearsing your new habit. When you understand that habit formation is a skill, then you will also see the important role of rehearsal.
I'll leave you with this statement:
The more skilled you are at celebration, the faster you can create habits.
C'mon, you gotta celebrate!
I go to great lengths—and even embarrass myself—to explain why celebration matters.
If you don't take this technique seriously, you'll never be a superstar in creating habits.
Nail this technique and you'll have habit super powers.
Rehearsing your recipes (a habit hack)
What I explain in this video may seem weird.
I say you need to rehearse your new habits, just like athletes, musicians, and students practice.
Not only do you rehearse the sequence, but you also wire it into your brain by celebrating ("Good for me!")
Anchor, Tiny Behavior, Celebration. REPEAT.
Bonus: Is a habit "too tiny to celebrate?" (I say nope.)
Is a tiny behavior too small to celebrate?
I say no.
I explain more in this extra credit video.
You made it! Your next step
This week, you need to practice your habits every day and respond to your coach's daily email (it takes less than 3 minutes).
Just remember, this is a learning journey. You're learning the skills of change.
So read your habit recipes again and start practicing (now!)