Mini Habits – Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

[currently re-reading]

Keep your habits small – use “stupid small” goals.  That will keep your brain from stopping you.  “I will do 1 pushup a day” instead of “I will go to the gym every day and exercise for an hour.”  “I will meditate for 1 minute a day” is better than “I will meditate twice a day for 45 minutes each time.”

Willpower should only used to force yourself to create habits, and the smaller the habit the less willpower you will need.  The pull to do the thing becomes stronger than the resistance to doing it.

Is your current strategy working?  If it is, keep doing it!  But if it isn’t, and it hasn’t over and over and over again, change your freaking strategy.  It’s not your fault those past strategies didn’t work, but you are responsible to recognize that and change your approach.  Try creating some stupid small mini habits and see where they take you.

“To make changes last, you need to stop fighting against your brain.”

Which would you rather have, intentions or results?  The biggest intention means nothing if you don’t actually do anything about it.

A little every day is better than doing a huge amount once and then never again.

“Every great accomplishment rests on the foundation of what came before it; when you trace it back, you’ll see one small step that started it all.”

I marked this book on Goodreads as “read” on June 3, 2017.  Rereading it now, and his “golden pushup” story is a bit different from mine.  When I first started with mini habits, there was none of this “I just did one, so I can keep going for the next 30 minutes.”  There was only “I just did one, so I’m literally done for the day.”

Which was a good thing – I took it super literally.  If I said I would do one minute of meditation, I did exactly one minute of meditation.  At least for the first few days.  I’m now on a 26 day streak at about 20 minutes each morning.

It’s really ok to start stupid small and stay there for a while.

Hey look, a blog post by Stephen about his One Pushup Challenge.

This reminded me of Bill Murray and baby steps:

Habits work because they create and strengthen neural pathways.  The more you do something, the “stronger” the pathway becomes.  It’s like water – the more it flows through the same area, the more it digs a path, which makes it easier and easier to follow the same path.  And again, and again, and again.

Therefore, mini-habits work because they start off the creation of the pathway.  And the more you do them, the deeper the path becomes.  Eventually, the water of your behavior happens without you even thinking about it – and you feel “weird” if you don’t do it.

Stephen Guise on the Web, Twitter, and Facebook.

Brian Johnson has pulled some big ideas from this book – check them out here.


The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Daily Stoic Book Cover

Heraclitus – “No man steps in the same river twice.”  Change is constant.  Life flows like a river, sometimes smoothly, sometimes over a fall.  Learn to accept it and love it.

“… You should invite some to your table because they are deserving, others because they may come to deserve it.” – Seneca, Moral Letters, 47.15b

“The buck stops here.”  You are 100% responsible for the things you can directly control.  For things you can’t control, your are 100% responsible for your reactions to them, which is something you can directly control; maybe not immediately, but with practice it will come.

Don’t complain (not even to yourself).  It’s a waste of time and energy that could be better spent either doing something about the thing you are complaining about, or learning to live with it if there’s nothing you can do about it.

  • Accept nothing false or uncertain
  • direct your impulses only to acts for the common good
  • limit your desires and aversions only to what’s in your own power
  • embrace everything nature assigns to you (Amor Fati!)

(Nov. 18th)

“Remember, thou art mortal.”

November 25th really struck me, since this morning I just wrote a post in my other blog about being grateful for money problems.  Lottery winners often end up miserable.  People with cancer often say “It’s the best thing that happened to me.”

And in the quote, Musonious Rufus says that he’d rather be sick than live in luxury, since sickness only harms the body, while luxury harms both the body and the soul – it causes weakness and incapacity in the body, and lack of control and cowardice in the soul.  Then I thought “Well, then why not run around trying to get sick?”  First of all, sickness will come – don’t you worry about that!  Second of all,  health allows us to grow as human beings.  It’s what the Stoics call a “preferred indifferent”, something that’s a natural, legitimate  desire since it can aid in developing excellence.   I’m done with calling it (the goal) virtue.  Excellence fits better.  Virtue is just too loaded a word for me.

What would you do differently if you were going to die soon?

Do that.  Because you are going to die soon.  You have a terminal disease called life.

Everything that happens – by you and to you – every thought, feeling, and action you experience – EVERYTHING that happens can be used to improve your life.


You could have died a hundred different ways already.  Consider your past life as that of a dead man, and the time you have left as a bonus.

“The Stoics are stereotyped as suppressing their emotions, but their philosophy was actually intended to teach us to face, process, and deal with emotions immediately instead of running from them.”

Face.  Process.  Deal With.  Immediately.

From Dec 11 – “Be Brave.  Be Dignified.”

Check out the book on Amazon


Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven

Start your day with a completed task.  That’s why you make your bed – so that your brain will have a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning.  I suppose if someone is still sleeping in it when you get up (often my case), you could find something else that’s super simple to complete.

Life isn’t fair.  You can do everything right, be the absolute best you can, and life will still shit all over you.  Get used to that, and expect it.

When you do fail, it can make you stronger if you let it.  Accept it, lean into it, and get all you can out of it.

Dare greatly.  Take (calculated) risks.

“If you want to change the world… start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.”

Never ring the bell!

“Remember… start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better… and maybe the world!”

You can change the world – change 10 people, who in turn change 10 people, who in turn change 10 people… and eventually the world has changed.

(just make sure it’s for the better.)

Check out this book on Amazon



Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes

Learn to observe your thoughts without judgement.  Practice this daily.

Life is suffering.  We can’t escape that, but we can act anyway.

Conceptualized Self – that part of us that sees ourselves as a story: “I am depressed.”  “I am stupid.” “I am a success.” “I am a failure.”  This is most dangerous self when it comes to creating and “trapping” suffering.

Suffering from anxiety, depression, etc can lead to (usually does) identifying with those illnesses as who you are.  They are there, but they are not the whole you.

You are not your pain.  You are not your joy.  You are the conscious container of it.

Mindful Eating – pay attention!  It doesn’t have to be enjoyable.  If it isn’t, pay attention to the unpleasantness of it.  The point isn’t to enjoy eating more, it’s to bring awareness to your own thoughts and feelings about the eating itself, and by extension, to life.

Think of your mind as a chessboard with pieces on it.  Your thoughts and feelings are the pieces; your observing self is the board.  See your situation from the perspective of the board – the pieces constantly move, focus shifts from one to the other, and they come and go.  But the board is always there – unchanging.

Check out the book on Amazon.



The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius by Pierre Hadot

“Seneca had defined the discipline of action as follows: in the first place, judge the value of the matter in question; then adjust our active impulses to this value; finally, bring active impulse and action into harmony, so that we may always remain in accord with ourselves.”

I’m woven together with this moment.  Woven together.  I think that’s a pretty cool (and wise) idea.

“Only one thing has value down here: to spend one’s life in truth and justice, all the while remaining benevolent to liars and the unjust.”

Check out this book on Amazon


My Philosophy for Successful Living by Jim Rohn

Personal development can be boiled down to taking information in, being inspired by it, allowing yourself to be transformed by it, and inspiring others to do the same.  That last part is important – we don’t live in a vacuum.  Share what you learn with others.

You are only paid for what you bring to the marketplace.  Jim may be talking about the financial marketplace here, but all a marketplace is, is a place where people trade.  When you have the capacity to give, you will receive as well.  It may not always be in the way you expect, but you will receive.  The universe is a marketplace.

But you must have something to give in the first place.  Develop that.

You are your own product.

Forget your excuses.  Identify the obstacles within.

“If you refine and change your philosophy, everything around you will change as well.”

Work hard on your job and you’ll make a living.  Work hard on yourself and you’ll make a fortune.

Don’t wish for your life to be easier.  Work on making yourself better.


“… that which does not evolve does not prosper and does not survive.”

“Becoming a skilled communicator is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.”

Do your honest best to maintain your physical fitness.

Learn from others experiences, both their failures and successes.

“You can have all you want out of life if you endeavor to help others.”

Work is necessary.  Don’t shirk it.

Stuff takes time.  Work on it, but don’t berate yourself if you aren’t seeing the results you want as quickly as you want. Monitor, but don’t rush.

Personal Responsibility.  Self-Education.  Self-Development.

Six Steps:

  1. Be Productive. (“Your goal should be to produce something of worth and value for the world.”)
  2. Value Relationships.  People who don’t make a contribution to society often find themselves alone.
  3. Respect Your Origins.  Celebrate where you come from!
  4. Spiritual Health.  (Whatever that means to you.)
  5. Build an Inner Circle.
  6. Plant the seeds.  You just need to plant the seeds and care for them.  You don’t have to make the plant itself.

Focus on the other person and what you can do for them.

“He that wishes to be the greatest, let him find a way to serve the many.

You are the only problem you have.  And you are the only solution.

“You can’t win if you’re a victim.”

Even if you’ve got no idea what you are doing, you can still win.

When (not if) you lose, know that you will recover.

Check out the book on Amazon


The Slight Edge – Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson

You already know what to do. Stop just reading and start doing those things that have brought you success in the past.

Start small, and build.

“Life is not a clickable link.”  Nothing is instant – it takes daily action on the small things to get results.

The things that will bring you success and happiness are both easy to do and easy not to do.  The things that will cause failure are both easy to do and easy not to do.  Do the good, avoid the bad.  This idea is generally credited to Jim Rohn, but really captures the essence of the slight edge.

[More ideas from The Slight Edge – Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson can be found here]

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

[More on the book here]

If there’s something you want to do: start here, start now.

If there’s something you want to have: get after it, right now.

Get up early for your first win of the day.  This requires that you go to bed early enough to get the sleep you need.  The best way to go to sleep early enough is to be tired at the end of the day.  The best way to be tired at the end of the day is to get up early and get after it.

Assert control over your mind.  When it comes to taking action and getting stuff done, weakness doesn’t get a vote, negativity doesn’t get a vote, frustration doesn’t get a vote.  None of that shit gets a say in what you do.

One thing that I’d recommend with this book – get the audio version.  Because of Jocko’s… powerful presentation (that’s the only way I can describe it), the material’s impact is ratcheted up about 100x more than just reading the words.  It’s available a bunch of places – I picked up a copy on Google Play.  And it’s way better as an album with tracks rather than as a traditional audiobook – easier to jump right to what you are struggling with.


Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg

[More on the book here]

“Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort.”

Productivity is relative.  You get to decide what productive is – generating income, spending quality time with your family, training for a marathon… whatever you want it to be.

Motivation is a skill that can be learned.

“When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more.”

Give people (yourself!) the opportunity to make choices – provide a sense of autonomy.  Maybe remind yourself that you *choose* to do that thing that you feel like you have to do.  Ultimately, there’s nothing that you have to do – there’s only “have to if I want this other thing.”  Have to go to work because I want to pay the bills.  Have to pay the bills because I don’t want to be homeless and destitute.

“Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control.”

Work on your internal locus of control.  Don’t blame your sickness – work with it, around it, through it.  Use it as an advantage.

“An internal locus of control emerges when we develop a mental habit of transforming chores into meaningful choices, when we assert that we have authority over our lives.”
[More ideas from Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg can be found here]