One of my fondest memories from my childhood is going to my grandmother’s house for weekend trips. As many grandparents do, my grandmother really spoiled me and my brother Matt. This was especially true when it came to food.
The day before we visited, she would go to the supermarket and stock up. When we arrived at her place, she would have pizza, sandwiches, potato chips, cookies, ice cream, and other treats for us. It was like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet with your favorite foods.
However, there was one food that my grandmother served us that Matt and I really disliked. For breakfast, she would make plain eggs. In comparison to the other foods that she had for us, the eggs were pretty unappetizing.
So, one day, my grandmother got a bright idea. Rather than forcing us to eat plain eggs, she added sugar to them. That made them delicious! Matt and I started enjoying them without any struggle.
My grandmother’s cooking trick was clearly not the healthiest. However, it ultimately served as the inspiration for a strategy that I now refer to as habit sugar. In this article, you will learn how to change your behavior by adding some “sugar” to your habits.
Do Not Try to Rely on Willpower
Most people just try to rely on willpower when forming a new habit. Two common examples are forcing yourself to do exercise that you find tedious and forcing yourself to eat healthy foods that you find unpleasant. A much stronger approach is to think about how to make your intended behavior (eating healthy, exercising, etc.) as enjoyable as possible. Add some “sugar” to your habits by activating your senses in a positive way.
Examples of Habit Sugar
Here are some examples of how you can use habit sugar to form new habits:
- Taste: Rather than eating plain eggs (or eggs with real sugar!), add some habit sugar for your taste buds, and eat your eggs with salsa or organic ketchup.
- Vision: Rather than running on a treadmill, add some habit sugar for your eyes, and run on a beautiful trail in nature.
- Hearing: Rather than doing tedious work in silence, add some habit sugar for your ears, and do tedious work while listening to your favorite music.
- Smell: Rather than doing yoga in a fragrance-free room, add some habit sugar for your nose, and light a scented candle.
- Touch: Rather than sleeping in an uncomfortable bedroom, add some habit sugar for your body, and optimize your sleep environment with your ideal temperature, mattress, sheets, and pillows.
The key message here is to design your environment in a way that supports your senses and the habits that you want to form. Your environment has a significant impact on your behavior.
Summary and Final Thoughts
If you have ever failed to form a new habit, the problem was not you. The problem was your strategy. Do not just try to rely on willpower. Add some habit sugar, and make your intended behavior as enjoyable as possible. Activate your senses (taste, vision, hearing, smell, and touch) in a positive way, and you will form stronger habits much more easily and quickly.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, executive recruiter, athlete, and peak performance coach. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com, and over 500,000 people across the world have read his articles.