The Golden Rule Of Habit Change

Why Transformation Occurs

Instead of completely changing the habit, you can focus on keeping the same cue, keeping the same reward... but focus on changing the routine. That is the biggest focus on changing a habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same. A smoker, for example, usually can't quit unless she finds some type of activity to replace cigarettes when her nicotine craving is triggered. For some habits, however, there's one more thing that is necessary for change... belief. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe that change is possible. Most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group or community. Belief is essential, and it grows out of having an experience with a community, even if that community is only made up of two people. 


The Craving Brain

How To Create New Habits

There are two basic rules to creating a new habit:

  1. Find a simple and obvious cue
  2. Clearly define the rewards

Studies of people who have successfully started a new exercise routine, for instance, show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they home from work, and a clear reward, such as a beer after their run. Habits create neurological cravings. This is what makes a habit so powerful. Habits are created by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward... and then cultivating a craving that drives the whole habit loop. Look at smoking. When a smoker sees a cue--lets say a pack of cigarettes-- her brain starts anticipating a hit of nicotine. Just the sight of cigarettes is enough for the brain to crave a nicotine rush. If it doesn't arrive, the craving grows until the smoker reaches, unthinkingly, for a cigarette. The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come. Cravings are what drive habits. 


The Habit Loop

How Habits Work

Did you pause this morning to decide which shoe to tie first? Did you struggle to figure out if you should brush your teeth before or after you shower? Of course not. Those decisions are habitual, effortless. The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as chunking and it is at the root of how habits form. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. It all starts with The Habit Loop, which consists of three steps. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Habits never really disappear. The problem is that your brain can't tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it's always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards. We might not remember the experiences that create our habits but once they are wired in our brain, they will influence how we act... without realization. 


Law 48: Assume Formlessness

By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes. 

The formlessness of power is more like that of water, taking the form of whatever is around it.  The first psychological requirement of formlessness is to train yourself to take nothing personally. Never show any defensiveness. When you act defensive, you show your emotions, revealing a clear form. Your opponents will realize they have hit a nerve... and hit it again and again. Train yourself to take nothing personally. Let no one know what gets to you, or where your weaknesses lie. Formlessness is a tool. Never confuse it with a "go with the flow" style, or with a religious resignation to the twists of fortune. 


Law 47: Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When To Stop

The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop. 

Power has its own rhythms and patterns. Those who succeed at the game are the ones who control the patterns and vary them at will. Powerful people vary their own rhythms and patterns. They know when to change course, adapt to a circumstance and learn to improvise. Instead of letting their dancing feet take them forward, they step back and look at where they're going. Luck and circumstance always play a role in power. Good luck could actually be more dangerous than bad luck. Bad luck teaches valuable lessons about patience, timing and the need to be prepared for the worst. Good luck deludes you into the opposite lesson, making you think your brilliance will carry you through.


Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity. 

Envy is a weed that should not be watered. There are many different ways to deal with the destructive emotion of envy. First of all, you need to accept the fact that no matter what people will always surpass you in some way. Whether it be having a better car, a better job, etc. Seeing people surpass you should give you a drive to do better than them one day. Use that feeling of envy and switch it to motivation. Let envy turn inward and it poisons the soul; expel it outward and it can move you to greater heights. Second, understand that as you gain power... as you continue to strive in life, those below you will feel envious of you. By becoming conscious of those actions and qualities that create envy, you can take the teeth out of it before it nibbles you to death. "A Garden of Weeds. You may not feed them but they spread as you water the garden. You may not see how, but they take over, tall and ugly, preventing anything beautiful from flourishing. Before it is too late, do not water indiscriminately. Destroy the weeds of envy by giving them nothing to feed on.". 


Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once

Human Psychology says that while people understand the need for change, knowing how important it is for institutions and individuals, they are still irritated and upset by the changes that affect them personally. They know that change is necessary, and that's what will provide relief from boredom, but deep inside they cling to the past. A change that upsets core habits and routines deeply disturbs people. Just one of those laws that I understand but yeah moving on.


Law 44: Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect

This law is pretty deep. I don't see myself applying this law personally. What I do like about these laws is that even if they might not apply to your life, it could help you understand why those in "power" move the way they do. 

There are four main Mirror Effects in the realm of power: 

  1. The Neutralizing Effect: Do what your enemies do, following their actions as best as you can, and they cannot see what you are up to--they are blinded by your mirror. This tactic is similar to the "copycat" in that it'll have a mocking/infuriating effect. As a child, you would have that one kid who would copy the exact words you say and after a while you end up wanting to punch them in the face. 
  2. The Narcissus Effect: This is simply the ability to mimic another person not physically, but psychologically. 
  3. The Moral Effect: You mirror what other people have done to you, and do so in a way that makes them realize you are doing to them exactly what they did to you.
  4. The Hallucinatory Effect: Most commonly used by con artists, who strategically mimic the real world to deceive you. 

This law goes more in depth but I'm not a fan of it. Moving on. 


Law 43: Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others

The key to persuasion is softening people up and braking them down, gently. This does not mean break them down and make them feel like shit. There are two ways to approach this: Work on their emotions and play on their intellectual weaknesses. Be alert to both what separates them from everyone else (their individual psychology) and what they share with everyone else (their basic emotional responses). Once you move their emotions you have reduced their control, making them more vulnerable to persuasion. Primary emotions to target are love, hate and jealousy. Push people to despair, then give them relief. If they expect pain and you give them pleasure, you win their hearts. The quickest way to secure people's minds is by demonstrating, as simply as possible, how an action will benefit them. "The Keyhole. People build walls to keep you out; never force your way in -- you will find only more walls within walls. There are doors in these walls, doors to the heart and mind, and they have tiny keyholes. Peer through the keyhole, find the key that opens the door, and you have access to their will with no ugly signs of forced entry.". 


Law 42: Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual--the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoner of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them--they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter. 

In every group, power is concentrated in the hands of one or two people, for this is one area in which human nature will never change: People will congregate around a single strong personality like planets orbiting a sun. Powerful people will never waste time (Law 35: Master The Art Of Timing). Outwardly they may play along with the game-pretending that power is shared among many-but inwardly they keep their eyes on the inevitable few in the group who hold the cards. Stirrers thrive by hiding in the group, disguising their actions among the reactions of others. Render their actions visible and they lose their power to upset. "A Flock of Fatted Sheep. Do not waste precious time trying to steal a sheep or two; do not risk life and limb by setting upon the dogs that guard the flock. Aim at the shepherd. Lure him away and the dogs will follow. Strike him down and the flock will scatter--you can pick them off one by one.". Focus on the Shepherd not the Sheep


Law 41: Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man's Shoes

What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after. If you succeed a great man or having a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them. Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in a past not of your own making: Establish your own name and identity by changing course. Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way. 

Never let yourself be seen as following your predecesor's path. If you do you will never surpass him. You must physically demonstrate your difference, by establishing a style and symbolism that sets you apart. Most people are afraid to break the "norm", but they secretly admire those people who actually do it. The last thing you want to do is get comfortable once you get a taste of success and power. When our power is secure we have no need to act. This is dangerous especially for those who achieve success and power at an early age.


Law 40: Despise The Free Lunch

What is offered for free is dangerous--it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price--there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power. 

There are thousands of people who refuse to use money creatively and strategically. These types of people represent the opposite pole to the powerful. It is important to recognize those people and to avoid their poisonous natures. 

  1. The Greedy Fish: Greedy fish are the con artist's bread and butter: Lured by the bait of easy money. They spend so much time dealing with numbers (not with people) that they become blind to psychology, including their own. 
  2. The Bargain Demon: Powerful People judge everything by what it costs, not just in money but in time, dignity and peace of mind. This is exactly what Bargain Demons cannot do. Don't argue with them or try to change them. Mentally add up the cost, in time and inner peace of the irrational pursuit of a bargain. 
  3. The Sadist: Sadists seem to think that paying for something gives them the right to torture and abuse the seller. 

Power requires self-discipline. Becoming "rich instantly" plays havoc with the emotions. The suddenly rich believe that more is always possible. Never let lust for money lure you out of the fortress of real power. Make power your goal and money will find its way to you. Never let financial details blind you to the bigger picture of how people perceive you. Money may determine power relationships, but those relationships not only depend on the amount of money you have, but on the way you use it. Powerful people buy influence rather than things. "The River. To protect yourself or to save the resource, you dam it up. Soon, however, the waters become dank and pestilent. Only the foulest forms of life can live in such stagnant waters; nothing travels on them, all commerce stops. Destroy the dam. When water flows and circulates, it generates abundance, wealth, and power in ever larger circles. The River must flood periodically for good things to flourish.". 



Law 39: Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish

Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. You must always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage. Put your enemies off-balance: Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings. 

Angry people usually end up looking ridiculous. They will usually exaggerating the insult that has been done to them. They are so sensitive that they take any comment personal. What's even more funny is that they think reacting in an angry manner will signify power. People will temporarily be affected by your tantrums, but in the end they will lose respect for you. They will also see how little self-control you have. Nothing in the social realm is personal. If a person explodes with anger at you (and it seems out of proportion to what you did to them), you must remind yourself that it is not exclusively directed at you. Instead of overreacting, and becoming ensnared in people's emotions, you will turn their loss of control to your advantage. You keep your head while they are losing theirs. Once you train yourself not to take matters personally, and to control your emotional responses, you will have placed yourself in a position of power! Nothing is as infuriating as a man who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs. "The Pond of Fish. The waters are clear and calm, and the fish are well below the surface. Stir the waters and they emerge. Stir it some more and they get angry, rising to the surface, biting whatever comes near--including a freshly baited hook.". 


Law 38: Think As You Like, But Behave Like Others

If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness

There are a lot of people who tell lies and hide their true feelings everyday. I could tell you right now that I am someone who doesn't reveal how I truly feel or what I am thinking to certain people. The truth is you never know how people will react to certain things. There are people who just have a need to prove the superiority of their values and beliefs. At the end, their arguments convince only a few and offend a bunch more. Wise and clever people learn how to display conventional behavior without having to believe in them. I apply this law all the time to an extent, it avoids conflict and hides your true intentions. I've seen people do the opposite and it truly does offend the people you are surrounded with. "The Black Sheep. The herd shuns the black sheep, uncertain whether or not it belongs with them. So it straggles behind, or wanders away from the herd, where it is cornered by wolves and promptly devoured. Stay with the herd--- there is safety in numbers. Keep your differences in your thoughts and not in your fleece.".  


Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles 

Words will put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself, your power is already being questioned. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone.  Words and images are powerful depending on how they are used. Never neglect the way you arrange things visually. There are many factors, such as color, that can mean more than you would expect symbolically. Red ink can create a sense of urgency, power and good fortune. Organize symbols in a way that awes people and distracts them from the unpleasant realities. People love what is grand, spectacular, and larger than life. Interesting concept, but not a law that I am big on. 


Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge

By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem. 

You choose to let things bother you. You can just as easily choose not to notice those distractions and make them unworthy of your interest. Learn to not acknowledge the things that are unworthy of your time and turn your back on what cannot harm you in the long run. If there is something that you cannot have the worse thing you can do is draw attention to your disappointment and complain about it. I've seen people do this exact action and cannot stress how pathetic they end up looking. When your enemies try to attack you, act as if you're not bothered by it at all. Ignoring the attack will drive your enemies crazy. The powerful responses to petty annoyances and irritations are contempt and disdain. "The Tiny Wound. It is small but painful and irritating. You try all sorts of medicaments, you complain, you scratch and pick at the scab. Doctors only make it worse, transforming the tiny wound into a grave matter. If only you had left the wound alone, letting time heal it and freeing yourself of worry.". 


Law 35: Master The Art Of Timing

Never seem to be in a hurry--hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

There are three kinds of time we deal with on a daily:

  1. Long time: These are the long years kind of time that must be managed with patience and guidance. When you force the pace out of fear and impatience, you create a nest of problems that require fixing, and you end up taking much longer than if you had taken your time. Waiting not only involves controlling your own emotions but of those around you as well. They will try to push you into making rash moves, mistaking action for power. 
  2. Forced Time: Making people wait is a powerful way of forcing time. The opposite effect is equally powerful: You make your opponents hurry. People who lack the time to think will make mistakes. 
  3. End Time: Being able to be patient but also being able to acknowledge when the time is right to execute. Patience is worthless unless combined with a willingness to execute when the right time presents itself.

"The Hawk. Patiently and silently it circles the sky, high above, all-seeing with its powerful eyes. Those below have no awareness that they are being tracked. Suddenly when the moment arrives, the hawk swoops down with a speed that cannot be defended against; before its prey knows what has happened, the bird's viselike talons have carried it up into the sky.".  



Law 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King To Be Treated Like One

The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of you powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.

If we believe that we are destined for great things, our belief will radiate outward... the same way a crown creates an aura around a king. This outward radiance will infect the people around us.. they will think we must have a good reason to be feeling so confident. People who wear crowns (Do not take this literally, think about it) seem to feel like they have no limits. They can accomplish any goal that is created. Be overcome by your self-belief. Even while you know you are practicing a kind of deception to yourself, act like a king... don't be surprised if you start to get treated like one. Act with dignity. It is up to you to set your own price. Ask for less and that is just what you will get. "The Crown. Place it upon your head and you assume a different pose--tranquil yet radiating assurance. Never show doubt, never lose your dignity beneath the crown, or it will not fit. It will seem to be destined for one more worthy. Do not wait for a coronation; the greatest emperors crown themselves.". 


Law 33: Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew

Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage. 

  1. Pay attention to Gestures and Unconscious Signals: Train your eye for details--how someone tips a waiters, what makes a person happy, hidden messages in the way they dress. The key is not only what you look for but where and how you look. People try to hide their weaknesses everyday so there is little to be learned from their conscious behavior. What oozes out in the little things outside their conscious control is what you want to pay attention to. 
  2. Find the Helpless Child: Most weaknesses begin in childhood. Sometimes an emotional need as a child went unfulfilled. One sign of this weakness is that when you touch on it the person will often act like a child. Lookout for any behavior that should have been outgrown. 
  3. Look for Contrasts: People who thump their chests are often cowards, the uptight are screaming for adventure, the shy are dying for attention. 
  4. Find the Weak Link.
  5. Fill the Void: The two main emotional voids to fill are insecurity and unhappiness. 

"The Thumbscrew. Your enemy has secrets that he guards, thinks thoughts he will not reveal. But they come out in ways he cannot help. It is there somewhere, a groove of weakness on his head, at his heart, over his belly. Once you find the groove, put your thumb in and it will turn him at will."

Law 32: Play To People's Fantasies

This law's main focus is to show how powerful it is to create a fantasy. 

  • The Reality: Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self-sacrifice, and a lot of patience.
  • The Fantasy: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one's fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice, and time in one fantastic stroke. 

Leonhard Thurneisser became the court physician of his town without ever studying medicine. Instead of offering different types of medications to the sick patients... he promised instant recovery. Hard to resist a fantasy like that--- health and well being without sacrifice and pain. 

There are 3 other "The Reality/The Fantasy" examples but they don't relate to this time of age in my opinion. Not a fan of this law. Almost feels pointless.