The philosopher Aristotle once said that we are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act but a habit.
And this reality is reassuring
because it reminds us that achieving our goals
requires lots of little manageable steps over time
rather than one giant Herculean effort.
But it’s also stressful
because it means committing to changing our behavior
on a day to day basis for a long period of time.
And whether you’re trying to increase your endurance
or learn to play an instrument, or read more,
or even do something as simple as take care of a plant everyday,
you probably know from experience
the process of adding new habits
into your day to day life is a difficult one.
Now I wanted to know what exactly makes
this process so difficult for different people.
So a couple of days ago,
I asked over on my Instagram what was the biggest thing
that prevents you guys from adding new positive habits to your day to day life?
And I got some pretty interesting
answers including some funny ones like pizza,
and evil twin of Jorgen Von Strangle that hits me
比如挥着鞭子的Jorgen Von Strangle 的邪恶孪生兄弟
with a whip every time I’m trying to do something useful?
But a lot of the answers seem to be variations on two key problems.
One, actually remembering to do the habit,
and the other one, which was by far the most common answer
pure, unadulterated laziness.
So today, I wan na share a little hack
that I’ve been using for quite a while which
can help with both of these problems.
This is something that can help you both remember to do those habits
and actually make them easier to do.
And it involves using if-then logic
to bind those habits to things that you already do every single day.
If-then logic crops up everywhere from math to computer programming, to game design,
and it’s usually implemented in what are called conditional statements.
So let me briefly explain exactly what these are
and how they work using one of my favorite games Magic: The Gathering.
In Magic, you have two different types of abilities,
activated abilities and triggered abilities.
Activated abilities are ones that require you to take action to use them.
So for example, take this card, Birds of Paradise.
比如 拿着这张卡牌 天堂鸟
This little symbol here is telling me that
I have to tap the card in order
to use the action printed on it.
By contrast, triggered abilities are ones that automatically happen when something else happens.
So in the case of a card like Man-o’-War,
the ability on the card is going to
be triggered automatically when it enters the battlefield.
You don’t have to do anything.
It’s a conditional statement.
If it enters the battlefield,
then you bounce something back to your opponent’s hand.
And then your opponent probably flips the table.
So let’s move on from there and look at
how these conditional statements might be used in a computer program,
say YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Now,
this is an incredibly complicated piece of software
and even YouTube’s engineers don’t know exactly how it works.
It’s kind of a black box but
one thing we know that it does do
is change up the recommendations you see on your homepage
based on your behavior.
So for example,
if you were to click the like button on this video,
then some code would automatically go into effect
to show you more videos like this one.
And likewise, if you were to click the dislike button,
you would see fewer videos like this.
– [Man] By the way,
that’s an invitation to click the like button.
– So here’s how all this relates to habit building.
What we wanna do is set the if part of the statement
as something you already do every single day.
Or hopefully multiple times a day.
And then set the then part
of the statement to the habit that you wan na start building.
In an ideal world, this would mean
that you would start to do your new
habits automatically regardless of what they were.
Going to the gym more often,
actually remembering to oil your cybernetic augmentations,
just meditating every single day, whatever it is.
There would be absolutely no conscious effort involved.
It would be like that triggered ability on the Magic card.
But unfortunately, at least in this context,
we aren’t automatons.
Our brains don’t run on computer code.
And as a result, there’s no 100% fool-proof way
to build this triggered ability into our minds.
The best that we can do is try to set things up,
so that the habit
that we’re trying to build is more like that triggered ability
like that Man-o’-War card than that activated ability like the Birds of Paradise.
And this actually works out really well
cause I freaking love jellyfish and my friend had a parakeet
in high school and I hated that thing.
Anyway, the best way to accomplish this is through environmental design.
You wan na start looking
for ways that you can set up your living space and your tools
so that the things you do every single
day both remind you to perform your habits
and make it easier to do so.
And with that, it is time for some examples.
I’m gonna start with the thing that
actually gave me the inspiration for this whole conditional statements idea in the first place.
Which was putting door frame pull-up bar in my office doorway.
That way, every single time I walk into my office,
I do five pull-ups and I get really good at pull-ups as a result.
我就做5个引体向上 后来 我变得很擅长引体向上
And I gotta admit, this is not an original idea.
My dad used to be in the military before I was born
and he once told me that to get into the mess hall
whether they actually ate lunch and dinner
and all those other meals of the day,
breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, all those things.
像是 早饭 早午饭 上午茶 不管它是什么
You had to do five pull-ups before you could actually go in there.
And as a result, all the cadets got really good at doing pull-ups.
And doing pull-ups is that something I personally wanna get really good at,
hence the door frame pull-up bar to my office.
I also applied this idea back in college
to the task of doing push-ups every single morning
and getting up early on a consistent basis.
And I did this by putting my alarm
underneath the coffee table in my room.
Not only did that require me to get down on my knees
and reach for the phone to actually turn it off in the morning,
which was more moving around, more action
that would actually wake me up,
but at that point, I was now down on the ground
and I might as well do some push-ups since I’m down there.
And this example is a great illustration
of how our brains are not like computers.
Because I could easily just get up and not do the push-ups.
So it’s really all about putting yourself in the position
to make doing the habit easier.
It’s not about a foolproof method. Now,
so far all I’ve talked
about are habits that improve your physical well-being.
But what if you wanted to write more often?
What if you wanted to get into a journaling habit?
Or do NaNoWriMo? Or write the next great Harry Potter fan fiction
that dethrones the current greatest one?
Which is clearly Maya Mortal.
Well, what if you went into your computer Startup settings
and set it to automatically open up
your favorite writing program every time you turned your computer on?
And you could pair that up
with the application blocking properties of an app like Freedom
which could lock down your browser and your games,
making writing the obvious choice whenever you turn your computer on.
Now putting all of these ideas aside,
you could of course use a task manager
or a calendar app to create reminders to do your habits.
But this only solves the reminding half of the problem.
Changing your environment and your tools
to create these little if-then pairings,
to create these conditional statements actually solves both halves of the problem.
It both reminds you to do the habit
and combats the laziness problem that so many of you cited
by making it so much easier to do.
Now, there are lots of other methods out there for building strong habits.
But for me, using conditional logic was a creative solution
that helped me get even better at doing it.
And it’s worth remembering that for any problem,
there is almost always a creative solution out there
that hasn’t been found yet.
So instead of sticking to the established methods,
be the online lists or even videos like this one,
it’s often better to analyze the details of the problem yourself
and try to come up with a creative solution.
Doing this is a skill that can benefit you
both in your personal life with things like habit building,
but also in your career.
And if you’re wondering how you can start improving that skill,
one useful tool you should check out is brilliant.org.
At its core, Brilliant is a tool that can
help you learn math, science, and computer science
much more effectively than with traditional methods.
But along the way,
it can also help you become a more creative and capable problem solver as well.
All of Brilliant’s courses prioritize active learning
and problem solving right from the get go.
So you’ll find yourself immediately improving your analytical and creative capabilities.
Whether you’re learning calculus, figuring out how gravitational physics works,
breaking down sorting algorithms in computer science,
or tackling any of the other courses in their library.
This also means that you won’t find yourself bored.
Because unlike traditional lecture-style classes,
you’ll be using what you learn right away.
I’m a huge fan of Brilliant’s learning philosophy
which prioritizes active learning and curiosity
and allowing for failure.
So if you wanna start improving your problem-solving skills,
I definitely recommend you give them a try.
To start learning for free,
you can head on over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank
which you’ll find in the description down below and
if you’re among the first 83 people to click
that link and sign up, you’re also gonna
get 20 % off your annual premium subscription.
I wanna give a big thanks to Brilliant
for sponsoring this video and being a huge supporter of this channel in general
and as always guys, thank you so much for watching this video.
If you enjoyed it, clicking that like button is appreciated
as always as we talked about that conditional logic will start
to kick in and it helps both you and my channel
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The philosopher Aristotle once said that we are what we repeatedly do.