Tiny habits for lasting change

What’s a habit?

A habit is your brain’s way to automate a behavior. When something is automated, you don’t have to think to do it—and that’s a powerful tool! If you know there are certain habits that you could be doing that will get you closer to your goals, making them automated will make things so much easier!

How do you make habits?

One of your brain’s functions is to process and simplify the massive amount of information we intake all day. It tries to spot patterns and create shortcuts. We can use that mechanism to build healthy habits, which can lead to positive lifestyle changes.

According to research, habits are easier to make if you base new ones off of existing cues in your life. For example, if you always do X, then start following that action with Y (1). Eventually, your brain will want to make them both part of the routine. Here are a few examples:

Goal? Have a healthier body

Habit building: If you always wake up, get out of bed, and turn on your light, add the action of doing 5 push-ups. Bonus! Not only will your body start to feel better, but moving more can also positively impact your emotional health!

Goal? Improve an intimate relationship

Habit building: Anytime you sit down with your partner, take a moment to connect with a touch, eye contact, or words of gratitude. Bonus! You may not only improve your relationship, but with increased communication and closeness, you might find you can tackle tough issues together.

Goal? Reduce stress

Habit building: Every time you feel stressed, take a big breath in (count to 3), fill up with air, then slowly release it. Bonus! Studies show that deep breathing can help lower your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure.

Examine your existing habits and find tiny spaces where you can tack on a healthy habit. If you’re disciplined with them, your brain will soon integrate it—and you can start another!

Reducing or increasing friction

Research shows that humans look for easy, efficient ways to do things. So habits can be added or broken by increasing or decreasing the friction it takes to perform them.

An example of reducing friction: To get myself to the 6:30 am yoga class in the morning, I have to pack my bag and have it by the door the night before so there is very little effort when the alarm clock goes off.

An example of increasing friction: To deter my consumption of the bag of chocolate chips I have in the cupboard, I put it into the deep freezer in my garage. Getting to it requires much more effort and time.

Carebook and maximizing success

Right now, Carebook has a dedicated team working on ways to cluster powerful, tiny habits together to maximize your chances for success—no matter what your goal is. We’ll keep you updated as we’ve got more to share, but for now, check out our blog on the 8 Dimensions of health and see how the different areas of life intertwine and impact one another.



  1. Lally P, Gardner B. Promoting habit formation. Health Psychol Rev. 2013 May;7(sup1):S137–58.