tiny steps to being happy

Tiny Steps To Being Happy

On New Year’s Day many of us set new resolutions (to lose weight, drink less, stop smoking, be kinder to our loved ones etc. etc.). Gym owners will tell you they are overwhelmed with new memberships in January!!.


We want to change, and maybe we even take the first step (don´t buy a pack of cigarettes for a week when trying to quit smoking). Still, year after year, many of our resolutions are never fulfilled.


Why is there such a disconnect between what people want and what people do?


Should you blame yourself for not doing what you need to do to see the results you want? No.


BJ Fogg, founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University wrote a book in 2019 called Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything


“The essence of Tiny Habits is this: Take a behavior you want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life, and nurture its growth. If you want to create long-term change, it’s best to start small”.

According to the author, behavior happens when the three elements: Motivation, Ability, and Prompt—come together at the same time.


Your desire to execute a behavior.


Your motivation can be either High or Low depending upon your level of desire to create change.


BJ Fogg believes one reason most people don´t make the changes they want is that they depend too much on motivation. He points out that motivation goes up and down and is not predictable. 


The solution lies in what you do when your motivation feels high.



Your capacity to execute a behavior.

Your ability can be either High or Low depending upon whether something you want to do is Easy to Do (High) or Hard to Do (Low). When the new behavior is hard, (we have low Ability) our Motivation quickly fades.



Your cue (or trigger) to execute a behavior.


Each day we have dozens of automatic responses to what happens to us. For example, hearing an alarm prompts you get up in the morning or feeling hungry prompts you to eat.

One of the most valuable insights BJ Fogg has, after testing his research on 40,000 people is the concept of the ACTION LINE. 


Look at the picture below, we promise it is not as complicated as it might look!!

A Prompt above the Action Line is one where both the Motivation is high AND it is easy to do. (high Ability)


BJ Fogg uses many funny and personal stories to illustrate his Tiny Habits method.


One of his desires was to get stronger by doing many pushups per day.

His motivation was high, but it was hard (low ability).


So, he came up with this Above the Action Line solution: He used going to the toilet as the prompt to do just two pushups. When he began, it quickly became automatic, and seven years later he does it every day!


Let´s create our own example. Using a Gratitude Journal. We know that being grateful will improve your happiness. 


You can find out more about the link between happiness and gratitude in our article:

Would you like to be happier? Start Writing.

Happiness is the way Gratitude

DESIRED BEHAVIOR (B)Write in your gratitude journal immediately upon rising every morning.

          • MOTIVATION (M): High — you really want to make this a habit.


          • ABILITY (A): High — spending a few minutes to sit down and write in your journal is Easy to Do, therefore your Ability is High.


          • PROMPT (P): For an Above the Line prompt put the pen and journal on your bedside table next to the alarm clock so you see it when it rings!

We have created House of Happiness Portugal to be a place to create new habits for wellbeing and happiness. This is so important to your success that all our staff will be trained on the Tiny Habits method in order to assist you (whenever your Motivation is low and the new habit is hard). We will offer workshops for our clients that are interested in learning more. 

In the meantime, remember, Start Tiny!

tiny steps for happiness
1 Comment
  • Sandra Scanoni

    August 31, 2021 at 2:50 am Reply

    Muito obrigada! Gostei demais do artigo e não vejo a hora de conhecer HOH em PT.

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