The Power of Habit Coupling

What in the world is habit coupling, and if its so powerful why haven’t I heard about it? I am willing to bet that you are aware of it, but just didn’t know what to call it. The reason I want to talk about it is that three months ago my daily life was executed in a very different way than it is today. I know this, I understand this, and thus I have control over it. I want to share so that you, too, can use this information to take control of your life.

Three months ago I was training for triathlon 4-5 times per week. I was reading books, meditating, blogging I was doing some yoga, sleeping well, I had quit watching TV, and I was listing to a variety of podcasts. Fast forward to today. I am coaching and playing volleyball, watching the rest of the walking dead on Netflix, not doing yoga, or meditation. I am sleeping poorly and my podcasts are starting to pile up in the queue. Why? Habit coupling.

Habit coupling is all around us and we likely experience it everyday. How does it play into life? When are you most like to eat popcorn? While watching a movie. Your popcorn habit is tied to your movie habit. Other examples are people who smoke cigarettes when they drink alcohol. Maybe it’s coffee while you drive, or eating eggs in the morning. There are no rules that say eggs can only be consumed in the morning, or that you must eat popcorn while watching a movie, but it’s two habits that for most of us go with each other. Now I want you to think about the ones that apply to you, and how they affect you.

The easy way to justify this is that the time to coach volleyball had to come from somewhere and training was the easiest item to remove from my calendar right? Wrong. While it is a large time-commitment, I feel like it’s less the root of the change and more the effect of a smaller change. I believe that the change is in me watching television while I would normally listen to podcasts. While listening to podcasts I would exercise. While watching television I sit. While I exercise I enhance my body and feel good. While watching TV I eat foods that are not good for me which makes me feel terrible. Because I feel terrible I don’t sleep well, where I sleep so good when I exercise. This carries forward into the next day to my motivation to yoga and meditate, and continue training. Where when I sleep poorly, volleyball is the only thing that is fixed on my schedule and therefore the only thing that I feel I must do that day.

So is it that simple? Do I need to trade Zen and the Art of Triathlon for the Walking Dead? Tawnee Prazak for Rick Grimes? Dave Asprey and JJ Virgin for Glenn and Maggie? Dr Phil Maffetone for Daryl Dixon? Let me tell you that I am going to make the effort to put the zombie apocalypse on hold, and see if the podcasts I listen to will create a series of events tied together through habit coupling that will change my life back to where I want it to be.

What I Think is the Key to Happiness

I am going to jump around a bit here, but don’t worry, just like your favorite novel everything is going to come together at the end. If you read this in its entirety I do not see how it would be possible that you would not be absolutely compelled to make the changes to¬†your life that will bring you happiness.

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First off I want you to identify biggest priorities in life and their associated goals. WAIT! I know everyone always talks about goals and the whole ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ and it is starting to become self-development mumbo-jumbo. ALL I AM ASKING, is that you identify why you get up in the morning, what keeps you going, and what you look forward to. This blog is the key to happiness and not the key to success so I am only asking that you acknowledge that you have priorities goals. It doesn’t matter what they are, I only want you to start thinking about what is it that you want to accomplish in your life. Those goals are what drive us to keep on going.


I want you to know about the parable of the empty cup. A young, cocky, knowledgeable university professor travels to visit who the greatest Zen Master of all. The university professor wanted to show the zen master that he had learned all there was to know about Zen. The professor told the master all the things that he knew about Zen, and then asked the master with all of that if there was anything he could teach him that the professor didn’t already know. The Zen master asked if the university professor would join him for a cup of tea. The Zen master then said “Your teacup, represents you and my teacup represents me.” the master then mostly filled his teacup with tea and told the professor, “this represents my knowledge of Zen.” Then the master completely filled the professors cup to the brim and told him “this represents your knowledge of Zen.” The professor took this to mean that his knowledge was greater because his cup was full to the top with tea while the masters was not. The professor then asks if this means that there is nothing that the master can teach him. The Zen master lifts up his cup of tea and pours the entire cup into the already completely full professors cup. The professors cup immediately begins overflowing spilling tea onto the table. The professor, confused, asks why he did that. The Zen Master tells the professor, “The tea was the knowledge of Zen. You already had a full cup because you had believed that you already know all there is to know. Then you ask if there is anything I could possibly teach you. I can take my full knowledge of Zen and give it to you, and it will only spill all over this table. First, you must empty your own cup, before you can take from mine.” Moral of the story is that our lives are full, and we need to remove one thing before we can add another.


Time is the most precious thing there is on this world. I have never really liked how we talk about time and the things that we don’t do because of it. “I can’t find the time. I’ll make the time. I don’t have the time.” Every person on this planet has 1440 minutes in every day. Everything you put this label on is something that you could do but chose not to. Can’t find time to go to the gym? What if I told you that you would die if you missed one day of exercise. I would bet that not only do you do it, you would do it first thing every morning. We can’t make the time for nutritious meals? What if I told you I would give you a million dollars at the end of a year if you did it three times a day? Don’t have the time to write your blog? What if I told you that you would be world-famous if you do it every week for five years? The thing is that we have the time. We have the 1440 minutes every day. We just aren’t properly motivated enough to do the things that we want to do.


Now is when it all comes together. Your priorities, your goals, need to proportionately align with the time on your schedule, and to achieve this you need to empty your teacup. To expand on it a little let me give an example. Most people have the goal to get more healthy. However, every time we look into a mirror and don’t see huge biceps or a six-pack we get saddened because health is important to us. The reason is that if we look at the past month, everyday getting more healthy is at the back of our minds as something we want to do. It would take up 10% of every thought in our brains from when we put on clothes, to every time we eat, to every time we see a picture of a person with our ideal body. It’s always in our heads, but it is not always on our schedule. Think about the 1440 minutes of everyday for the last month. How much exercise did you do? How much time did you spend preparing nutritious meals that will get you to your goal of health? The answer likely is not as much time doing it as you spent thinking about it, and this is the path away from happiness. This is where the teacups come in. When you think about your schedule, what is a reoccurring item on it that you are not proud of. The things that take up lots of your time but are not tied to any goal you have. The key is to remove these things from your life, empty your cup so that you can fill it with the things that are meaningful to you. Use the principal of the teacup to remove the things from your schedule that do not provide value, and replace them with the things that will move you towards accomplishing your goals.

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Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Everyone. That’s who.

Everyone wishes they were a millionaire but very few people ever achieve it. The largest reason of the low success rate of millionaire status is simply the lack of action. Few do try and fail, but most people don’t make an attempt at it. We all want to be millionaires but we don’t take one step towards making that goal a possibility.

Now I want you to think about your goals in life. Do you want to make more money, lose weight or eat more healthy? Whatever your goal is, what are you doing today to make that goal a reality? What is your plan for tomorrow to progress that goal and move it forward? The only way that we can achieve our goals is by taking action towards it. Without any action you will be as successful at achieving your goals as you have at becoming a millionaire.

A goal without daily action simply becomes a wish