Atomic Habits: Make It Attractive

This is the discussion thread for the third section of Atomic Habits: “Make It Attractive”!

Book club index here.


I have officially hit my lifetime limit on reading about how dopamine works in self-help books.

James Clear introduced the idea of temptation bundling - pairing something you need with something you want. I’m not convinced that this is a useful technique, at least for me. In the past whenever I have tried to reward myself with video games, I just get sidetracked by the game and never get back to work. It’s possible temptation bundling with concurrent activities is more effective. My family gave me The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Christmas. I binged yesterday and spent way too much time on the couch, so I’m going to try playing on the treadmill today.

I found myself thinking about Nicky Case’s “The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds” while reading chapter nine.

whatever habits are normal in your culture are among the most attractive behaviors you’ll find

Common knowledge of what’s “normal” is actually somewhat complicated. We see lots of what’s normal for the people we live with, but for everyone else we’re only seeing a small sample of their behaviors. I’m inclined to focus on self-selecting into communities that support my desired behaviors and then as much as possible try and ignore what looks normative in my workplace, neighborhood, in media, etc.

I think this forum shows that you don’t even necessarily have to have common goals when choosing an identity-reinforcing community, so long as there is a pro self-improvement norm. My experience with the Beeminder forum is that we’ll support any desired behavior, with the caveat that we tend to be evidence-based and interested in debating which mechanisms are effective.

The shared identity begins to reinforce your personal identity. This is why remaining part of a group after achieving a goal is crucial to maintaining your habits.

I think I’ve said it elsewhere, but I’ll say it again: for me, the forum is almost as important as my actual Beeminder goals for building positive behavior changes.


I guess this applies to Beeminder’s notifications

“Scientists refer to these exaggerated cues as supernormal stimuli. A supernormal stimulus is a heightened version of reality—like a beak with three red dots or an egg the size of a volleyball—and it elicits a stronger response than usual.”

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On the other hand , Beeminder is not aiding in terms of rewards

“It is the anticipation of a reward—not the fulfillment of it—that gets us to take action.”

The main reward is the visual representation of the data points, so we come up with goals like having all goals in the green.
If one wanted to setup a reward , I guess he can mention it in the fine print, but currently that part is a bit hidden in the goal view page.
Food for thought @dreev?

On the video games reward : perhaps you can set a specific set of minutes that you are allowed to play and strictly enforce it. The “agony” of having to stop will re-enforce the rush to finish the next task in a timely manner in order to get back to the game :slight_smile:

On shared identities and joining groups to help your habits (this forum is an example as @dehowell noted) i wonder if Beeminder could increase its community building efforts. The new “Survivor” game is a great idea! More please? :slight_smile:

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