James Clear – Behavior Scientist, Habit Master

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com where he shares ideas about using behavior science to master your habits and improve your performance. For fresh ideas on how to live a healthy life — both mentally and physically — join his free newsletter, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Complications by Atul Gawande. Gawande is a surgeon and a fascinating storyteller. In my opinion, this is easily the best of his books. I find this book particularly compelling because of my love for medicine, but even people who aren’t interested in healthcare will find this to be a wonderful read.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Duhigg does an excellent job of summarizing the recent research on habit formation and how it impacts your everyday life. Books like this are useful because they force you to consider the many patterns and routines that you often fall into without much thought.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I don’t know many people who haven’t read this, which probably says something. If you haven’t, it’s arguably the greatest fictional series of all-time. Rowling’s storytelling ability and character development is incredible. I don’t know a single person who hated the books and many readers are totally obsessed. If you’re wondering if it’s worth your time to read all seven, it is.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad. Quite possibly the best television series of all-time. Everything about Breaking Bad is top-notch. The plot is excellent. The writing is excellent. The cinematography is excellent. My favorite part is how many subtle pieces of foreshadowing are hidden throughout the show — both visually and through dialogue.

Searching for Sugar Man. This is the best documentary I’ve seen yet. It’s a story that is so unbelievable, you almost forget that it’s real as you watch it. I’m still shaking my head.

The Wire.  I think this is the only TV show where I was actually sad when it ended. Based in Baltimore, The Wire gives you a fascinating (and, at times, heartbreaking) view of crime in the city. It’s also an extremely realistic show. Every character has flaws and makes mistakes. Stick with it for a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked for good.

Good things to use.

A camera. I love photography. It’s a wonderful way to capture the world around you and share it with others. And it’s also an excellent reminder that life is meant to be lived in the physical world. It’s great to think, but our digital age makes it dangerously easy to live your life behind a screen. Pick up a camera and walk outside instead.

A barbell. Physical health allows you to do a better job at everything else in life. Pick up a barbell and start lifting each week. Squat. Deadlift. Bench Press. If you’re really ambitious, clean and jerk or snatch. Lifting is the one thing that keeps me sane when life and business get crazy. And besides, who wouldn’t want to be strong and look good?

Google Docs. I basically run my business through Google Docs, but that’s not why I suggest it. I think the biggest benefit is provides is the ability to open a blank document anywhere in the world, start typing, and record your thoughts. Google Docs provides you with the opportunity to write more and that’s a great thing. Writing more forces you to think clearly. Writing more allows you to discover what is important to you. And most importantly, writing more gives you the opportunity to share with others.

Connect with James on Twitter, @James_Clear.

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