The domino effect: How to make a chain of good habits



Even the tiniest good habit leads to good changes. Use it to your benefit and change your life with the domino effect.

True story

All human actions are connected. Let’s consider the story of Jennifer Lee Dukes. Within 20 years since college graduation, she would never make her bed, except for when she had visitors. At one point, Jennifer decided to change everything and make her bed for four days in a row. It seemed to be a usual thing, but in the morning of the fourth day, not only she makes her bed, but also picks up a sock and neatly sorts out the clothes scattered all over the bedroom. Then she heads to the kitchen, takes all the dirty dishes out of the sink and puts them in the dishwasher. She cleans the dish cabinet and places a decorative pig in the midst of the table. “Once I made the bed, it led to a chain reaction of accomplished projects in the house. I felt adult. I was a happy adult person with the bed made, clean sink, cabinet without trash in it and a piggy on the table. I felt like a woman who managed to get away from the chaos of household chores. Jennifer underwent the domino effect.

The domino effect

The domino effect claims that every change follows a row of other changes as a chain reaction. It is the same as when a row of dominos falls.

In 2012, scientists of East-Western University performed an experiment in which they learned that when people spend less time on a sedentary relaxation, they consume less fat. The participants of the experiment were not asked to eat less fat food on purpose, but their nutrition developed itself naturally. They stopped spending much time in front of the TV and overeating. One habit formed another one like a domino pushes the next one.

You might notice such regularities in your life, too. From my personal experience, if I stick to the habit to go to the gym, it’s easier for me to focus on work and have a good sleep. Even though I didn’t intend to change anything.

Nevertheless, the domino effect influences bad habits as well. You can see that constant using of a cell phone follows a habit to check notifications from social media and thus to scroll the newsfeed. So you waste at least 20 minutes of your time.

You will never be able to change only one habit. All our habits are related to each other. If you change one of them, another one might do, too. There are two reasons for the domino effect to appear. As the majority of our habits and chores are connected, your choice in one sphere of life can lead to unexpected outcomes in the other ones. The domino effect is based on the main principles of human behavior. These are adherence and consistency. This phenomenon is explained in the book of Robert Cialdini about human behavior “The Psychology of Persuasion”. If a person carries even a small idea, they will bring it to life, because it coincides with the image that they keep in their heads.

At the beginning of this article, when Jennifer Lee Dukes starts making her bed every day, she comes to realize that she is a person who keeps her house neat and clean. In a few days she gets used to the new image of herself and starts doing other chores in the house. The domino effect is interesting because of its side effects. Not only it builds new habits, it also affects personal beliefs. After each fall of dominos, you think differently about yourself and so create new habits.

Rules of the domino effect

You can initiate the domino effect yourself. What you need to do is to follow three rules. Start with the action that motivates you. Even if it’s a small one, the main thing for you is consistency. Besides bringing joy to yourself, you will see who you can become. It doesn’t matter which domino is the first to fall when the rest of them does the same. Don’t lose your pace and set the next task right away. Let the impulse of the first completed goal give you incentive to the next action. Taking such a step, you come closer to your new image. If you doubt, break a big task into a few small ones. When you are about to build a new habit, try to make it easy to do. The main idea of the domino effect is the progress, not the aftermath. Just try to keep the pace. Let the process repeat, and a domino will push the next one.

There are a few methods to make dominos fall. Focus on the habit you like, and may the effect of its completion start a chain reaction for the rest of your life.

Author: Lera Merzlyakova

Translated from Russian by Snizhana Pashuk.


2 thoughts on “The domino effect: How to make a chain of good habits

    1. I totally agree, and I wish people did compound and tried to change the world. Do you think the rule of domino effect could work here? By making a chain, one person could pass it to another one.

      Liked by 1 person

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