Home » Welcome to the Classroom! » Theme 1: How and Why to Put Your Own Happiness First » How to Break a Habit and Start a New One: The Science of Change

Things start as hopes and end up as habits.” ― Lillian Hellman

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Listen now: [audio:https://raisinghappiness.com/audio/5600_DR%20CARTER_RH_WEEK4.mp3]

This Week’s Practice
Start Using the Habit Tracker

Knowing how to form a new habit and break an old one is a life-skill you’ll use again and again. This week, work on yourself first. (I know, it is tempting to want to fix other people first. Resist, for now.)

What habit would bring greater happiness into your life? If you aren’t sure where to start, look at the list of blissful or fun activities you made in Week 2. Wouldn’t it be great if one of those activities was a habit? If you are still at a loss, I recommend starting a daily exercise or meditation habit.

Here’s How to Use the Habit Tracker

(1) Put your big over-arching goal at the top.

(2) Choose one ridiculously easy turtle-step per week.

(3) Each day you take your turtle-step, mark the X. (Clearly this worksheet was designed for children. Embrace your inner-child while you do this.)

(4) If you do get Xs everyday (or every week-day, or each day the habit is relevant), give yourself a “whoot!” and move to the next turtle step next week.

(5) If you don’t take your turtle-step each day, c’est la vie. Next week: make the turtle-step even easier. Is your next step ridiculously easy?

I know, this seems slow and rather painstaking. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just set our mind to something and then do it? Don’t be discouraged; we humans need time to make changes. Even though the turtle-steps are absurdly small, they are the beginning of big change.

Join the Discussion

  • Are you feeling less busy than you were last week? What activities were you able to cut out of your schedule? How did you do it?
  • What habits do you need to change this week?

Please post your response in the comment section. Be sure to subscribe to the comments so you can see what other participants are talking about, and so that you can offer your suggestions.

Suggested Reading This Week
Chapter 6, Raising Happiness, particularly pp. 109-118.
Video: How to Praise Children

Previous Practices to Keep Working On

  • Schedule time to take the class. You’ll get more out of class if you watch the video and plan to do the practices at the same time each week. What time is that for you?

A Weekly Thought

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us…happy. –John Dryden, paraphrased

Have fun with your habit trackers, everyone!