I had a fascination for a Bianchi early on during my high-school days. I got the sting of it when I saw the riders with these iconic bikes in Tour de France in the late 1980s which was telecasted in Doordarshan, the Indian broadcasting agency. I used to spell the “chi” in Bianchi as how would you pronounce “Che”in cheese. Only later I got the correct way to pronounce the name. And to really own one took me another twenty years. What started as a casual leisure cycling became a intense activity when I got introduced to Brevet by my…


Trackers like Strava tell you where you stand with respect to your physical exercises like jogging, running, swimminng, Cycling and so on. The the way the app tracks your movements gives you a visual measure. Measurements like this offers a way to overcome our blindness to our own behaviour and notice whats really going on each day. They give you a sense of progress. Small streaks on Strava gives us immense sense of satisfaction. That single notion of progress is itself very satisfying. Habit tracking provides visual proof of your hard work — a subtle reiminder of how far you…


Donald Hebb a neuropsychologist mentioned that Neurons that fire together wire together. Once wired they are easily expressed. This is what happens when we routinely practice. I remember learning my guitar and how my fingers will never cooperate, but as I started practicing everyday I began ‘fluent’ in the art of finger picking style guitar. Not that I can play well. I’m still an amateur but you get what I’m saying. Its not the muscle memory but the way the neurons are wired. Repeating a habit leads to clear physical changes in the brain.

There are a lot of that…


Dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it. Gambling addicts have a dopamine spike right before they place a bet, not after they win. Cocaine addicts get a surge of dopamine when they see the powde, not after theey take it. Whenever you predict that an opportunnity will be rewarding, your levels of dopamine spike in anticipation. And whenever dopamine rises so does your motivation to act.

Your brain has far more neural circuitry allocated for wannting rewards than for liking them. Desire is the engine that drives behaviour. It is the craving that leads to response. The author also talks about temptation bundling.


A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved. In todays world this has been exploited by the media folks to excite the masses into buying things and looking and experiencing things —junk food, hard liquor, video games These pleasure packed experiences are hard to resist. However this is a great news for us who are into Habits. Leveraging the Supernormal Stimulus we can make a habit attractive. Getting a good bike for cycling, shoes, Jerseys etc to acquire a habit of cycling. The same applies for other new habits.


Its very difficult to stick to rewarding habits in an environment that is not conducive for producing them. The same applies for bad habits too. The stuff with bad habits is that, the neural pathways that are formed for producing them never fade away. They might look that they are absent but when you are introduced to that environment, the dopamine is secreted and the pathway is triggered. A habit that has been encoded in the mind is ready to be used whenever the relevant situation arises.


For a behavior to happen we need context and environment. There is a subtle environmental determinism on certain behaviors. You write more when you are surrounded by writers. You tend to drink more in social setting rather than when you are alone. Thats why people say a change of environment can really do good to people who are caught up with bad ones.

If certain environments are making you bad the good news is that certain environments can also make you do good. You can trai yourself to link a particular habit with a particular context. We mentally assign our…


A great run or a physical exercise has hallucinatory quality to it. But not all days are enchanting. There are some days when boredom overtakes a solo run; which leads to annihilation of thoughts. You feel more drained emotionally. But since it has become a habit you don’t mind these days of unproductiveness. In this blog we again look at a few concepts popularized by BJ Fogg in the book Tiny habits.

There is something magical about announcing your plan of action. Believe me it works. If I’m planning a 130 km cycling I prepare it a few days in…


Most of the time we don’t listen to our bodies. They often they send out such vital messages that we miss out in our busy lives. This is why meditation is very important. This is one way of shutting the external nosies and focus on internal insights.

In our continuation of the book Atomic Habits, we look at the external signals that creates a neural pathway that triggers a behaviour. In the previous blog we looked at Cues — Signals that sets a habit in motion. When Cue’s are entertained they lead to Cravings — they are basically hormones and…


So I’m reading this book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. I really don’t see how this book is transformational, and also how it became a best seller as most of the stuff the author says in the book are said by others in different forms. For example take the work of Stanford University professor BJ Fogg, in his book Tiny Habits he says that any good or bad behavior happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment.” In short, he has devised a formula called B = MAP. …

Ashok

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