Updated: Nov 14, 2020
What do ants have to do with habits? Read to the end to find out.
In the last post I discussed temptation bundling as a solution for making those not-so-fun (at first) habits more palatable. The ultimate goal of making our habits more attractive is to build behaviors that go with the natural grain of our mind rather than against it. Our brain is an ancient tool developed with survival as the primary goal. Things like running, hunger, and spotting snakes come far more naturally to us than something like forcing yourself to wake up at 5am to research for blog posts. With that in mind, there's other natural neurological pathways we can leverage with habit creation, and one of the big ones is positive social pressure.
One of my favorite quotes has always been, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with," and this is especially true for your habits. Ever catch yourself saying the same phrases as your friends, or mimicking the way your parents stand? That's not an accident, we have a strong tendency to imitate those around us, which is something we can put to use. If you're trying to instill a particular habit, one of the best ways to sustain it is to find a community that will encourage you to do so.
My fellowship Venture for America always has me striving to do better, and that's largely a function of the truly inspiring people that make up its ranks. This 30 day blogging challenge was an idea I got from a fellow Fellow who was already 14 days into his. Jonah and I have spent the last week or so passing back and forth blogging tips, post ideas, and learning how similar our reading lists are (we had a good laugh when we realized we both open our sites with Marcus Aurelius quotes). I've been wanting to get more into writing for some time now, but it wasn't until I saw Jonah hard at work on his blog until I got the idea to start working on mine.
This is a pretty spot on display of social facilitation, a psychological concept that describes the idea that we try harder when we perceive that we're being observed. While there's several examples of this concept at work in humans in the above link, my favorite anecdote was that worker ants were observed digging as much as three times as much sand when they worked alongside other ants. If you want to dig more sand, you need to find the right ants.