Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear is the answer to all the questions plaguing our minds as we think of our goals. Our life is essentially a culmination of our choices–choices are determined by habits and habits by our thinking. Our habits are created by a routine we constitute for ourselves. Habits essentially form the growth trajectory of our life.

We are often enamored by success stories and blown away by the ‘hustle’ mindset. ‘Overnight’ success stories and terrible life events that motivated people into transforming their lives are classic themes observed across biopics. The 2hr movie with carefully crafted camera angles and invigorating music makes us almost romanticize the idea of an extraordinary defining event that will somehow nudge us to miraculous growth. Clear vehemently disagrees with the ideology and asserts that the growth that we intend to bring into our lives is not associated with the happening of a significant change.

A slight change in your daily habit can guide your life to a completely different destination. A 1% improvement each day can accumulate and help magnify our improvement to up to 37.78% in a year. Habits in tiny ways can alter the course of our life completely. It is a combination almost like a layered cake that comprises the outcomes, the systems, and the identity.

Like every good self-help book, there are three prescribed ways in which one can evaluate oneself. Outcomes stand for the results we are looking for. For instance, if our goal is losing weight it becomes our outcome. However, a vague goal is worse than a bad habit. An outcome must be specific, quantifiable, and reasonable. However, it observed that post the completion of one’s goals we tend to slip back into the same set of bad habits as before. Systems can assure long-term growth that can further cross the purview of goals. It is an assurance of the longetivity of the systems. The third layer makes the identity. An identity can make habits last subconsciously. By building an identity, we make the subconscious conscious.

The book further is shaped around 4 laws namely-
Law 1 – Make it Obvious
Law 2 – Make it Attractive
Law 3 – Make it Easy
Law 4 – Make it Satisfying
The above tricks can make it easier to build a habit and make sure it lasts. It also speaks extensively of the connection of dopamine to our daily activities that drives a 4 stage framework comprises- cue, craving, response, and reward. Built around this framework, combining behaviour together, reducing friction and making tiny changes compound into massive transformations can really help to change the growth trajectory of an individual’s life.

A book that deserves space on every bookshelf-Atomic habits by James Clear.

A Letter to a Student

A Letter to a student by Swami Sukhabodanada is an ode to the teacher-student relationship. When a distressed class 10 student writes to him about his worries, Swami addresses his concerns in a letter filled with tips. Originally written in Kannada, it became very popular amongst students who requested that the letter be converted to a book.

In the book, Swamiji starts by addressing the divide between village and city life. While the boy, Somashekhar spoke of problems faced by the infrastructure-deprived village school. Swamiji motivated him to look over on the brighter side- tranquil and distraction-free environment in the villages.

Further he spoke about how students must inculcate within themselves the habit of drawing up timetables. At length, he described the importance of including physical activity in one’s routine. Having a balance between studies and was the best way to ensure no burnouts. He spoke of a attitude that resembled a bouncing ball and not a long, drawn face like soaked flattened rice was the best way to make friends and bring along company.

In other paragraphs he denotes the importance of collective learning and active listening. Recommends looking up to every teacher as ‘Sadchidananda Guru’-The eternal teacher. Somashekar was advised to sit in one of the front benches to avoid the noisy and naughty back-benchers to focus better on his studies. Studies were described as a penance. Mugging up was highly discouraged. Guruji emphasized on the practice of reading and re-reading to assimilate portions thoroughly through the power produced by practice that relates to memory.

In conclusion, a few tips about personal hygiene and the importance of having a daily routine. Swamiji summed up the experience in the form having to use the book as a guide-book for student life. He recommends coming back to the book to read and re-read what has been taught to become a better student!