Superhuman by Habit

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

Another excellent book about habits.  The author that goes by with a single name, Tynan, gives us additional insights about good and bad habits and is a good complement to the previous book we’ve summarized entitled “The Slide Edge.”  This book, “Superhuman by Habit” gives us tips on how to be more consistent with our tiny success habits.

He starts off with defining what a habit is.  Habits are actions that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.  The key phrase is “no required effort or thought” because the action or the habit has been ingrained already that you just go on automatic mode.  Unfortunately, this definition applies to bad habits as well.  In fact, it is easier to develop bad habits such as gambling, drinking, watching too much TV or getting addicted to computer games because the pleasure derived from them are immediate whereas the rewards for good habits such as hard work, honesty, exercise, good health, saving money for the future are reaped only in the long run.  But good habits are worth the effort because they give you lasting happiness and build your character whereas bad habits destroy your life.

Never Miss Doing Them and Never Skip Twice

According to Tynan the author, good habits such as exercising 15 to 20 minutes per day walking, reading 5 pages of a self-development book, or learning a skill, if we want to get superhuman results from them we should strive not to miss doing them as scheduled.  But if you do miss, make sure you resolve to allot a specific time the following day just for it and you would have guaranteed that you will not skip it twice.  The idea here is to give primary importance to your good habit, to the extent that it will make you uneasy and deeply guilty if you skip it.  The maxim is, “Better to suck than to skip.” This will ensure that your good habit gets practiced and gives you superhuman growth.

Use Your Mistakes to Rise Up Again

When you encounter an obstacle in trying to acquire a good habit (e.g. solving math problems) don’t easily give up by saying, “I am bad at this” because the author says, it’s like saying I was born not to do this.  But often times it is just a matter of perseverance and coming up with another method (e.g. getting a tutor to help you solve math) in overcoming the obstacle.  Thus, instead of saying “I am bad at this” when you make a mistake, say to yourself, “I am better than this” as the author would recommend. The previous phrase makes you think you are hopeless whereas the second gives you that “growth mindset”.  Growth mindset is an insightful idea in dealing with challenges from the famous book of Carol Dweck “Mindset”, that I wrote about in a separate article.

Process vs. Results

Better to focus on the process than the results especially against immediate results if you want to acquire a good habit.  Otherwise, the lack of immediate results will make you quit.  If you are trying to lose weight for example and keep on weighing yourself after every exercise or work out and find out that you hardly brought down the scale, the author says that’s sure recipe for quitting.  Focus on the process, and the results will come after you have settled down on the process.   It’s the same thing with going on a vacation.  Enjoy the trip and not just the destination.

Get Rid of Negative Habits

This could have been the first topic.  The author placed it last so I just went along with him.  I believe we need to get rid of the bad habits first before we can acquire the good ones.  The two main disruptive habits that will hinder us are drugs (or any other addiction such as alcohol, gambling, computer games, etc.), and the habit of hanging out with negative friends or friends that will make us waste time.  Unless we get rid of these first, we will fail to acquire or sustain the goodies because these bad ones will ruin our sense of discipline.