Sometimes, keystone habits are created slowly. They build subtly, so you barely notice them taking shape. At other times though, you may make a new keystone out of the blue.
Ben habitually drank coffee at 10.30am. One day, a colleague brought cakes to share. Ben enjoyed his, and returned the favor the following day. Then, people began taking turns to buy coffee-break cakes. After a week, the cake-fest ended for most people, apart from Ben. He looked forward to cake every morning. However, his life changed.
He gained weight, and developed a sugar-craving. His eating habits altered, and what was an enjoyable ritual, cake with coffee, became a keystone habit. He ate more unhealthy foods. He started snoring at night, as many overweight people do, and his wife became frustrated about not getting enough sleep. His relationship, once calm, became fraught, and he began smoking again, just like he did in college because he felt stressed.
Ben’s example doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy cake; it simply means be aware of adopting new unhealthy behaviors and stop before they become habits. The way to make the most of life, without creating new keystones, is to live by the rule of balance.
The rule of balance states that moderation, not giving up, or regularly engaging in certain behaviors, keeps you stable. When you preserve balance, you don’t create disharmony in your mind and body. You have treats, but you don’t go over-the-top.
Keystone habits that influence other parts of your life stem from regular participation. Habits are behaviors you repeat, not deliberate extravagances.
Perhaps the best way to notice whether you are developing fresh keystones is to be aware of your behavior. Instead of mindlessly doing this or that, consider how your actions will influence you long-term. Enjoy life and have a treat, but don’t go too far and you won’t create fresh keystones on which other bad habits rest.