James Clear

James Clear quotes on empathy

Author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic Habits. I write about building better habits.

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Working on a problem reduces the fear of it. It’s hard to fear a problem when you are making progress on it—even if progress is imperfect and slow. Action relieves anxiety.


Many people delay taking action because they hope to avoid suffering. They keep searching for a path that won’t involve pain or sacrifice or tradeoffs. But some form of suffering is always inevitable. The process of taking action is the process of choosing your pain.


Feel compliments as deeply as you feel insults.


Some people need more focus. Others need to broaden their perspective. Some people need to try harder. Others need to stress less. Some people need to care more. Others need to let it go. The secret is you are both people. The key is to know which one you are in this moment.


People generally have more control over their actions than their feelings. But we can influence our feelings by taking action. Take one small step. Move the body first and the mind will follow.


3 things that help habits stick: 1) Repetition. Habits form based on frequency, not time. 2) Stable context. If the context is always changing, so is the behavior. You need a reliable environment. 3) Positive emotions. If it feels good, you’ll want to repeat it.


Boredom is a filter. Common ideas come before it. Uncommon ideas come after it. Sit with a project long enough to get bored with it, then sit a little more. The most useful insights bubble up after you get bored.


Leadership is: 1) Getting results 2) Making people feel good 3) Connecting each person to a bigger mission The good leaders do one. The great leaders do two. The best leaders do all three.


You know yourself mostly by your thoughts. Everyone else in the world knows you only by your actions. Remember this when you feel misunderstood. You have to do or say something for others to know how you feel.


On funerals, loss, grief, friendship, and support: It's not about knowing what to say. It's about being there when nobody knows what to say. The only thing people need to hear is, "You are not alone." And that doesn't require words. It just requires your presence.


Stories change more minds than facts. The way to change someone’s mind is not to present them with overwhelming evidence but to motivate them with overwhelming emotion. (Ideally, you’d have truth on your side and a story worth spreading.)


The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided. You learn what to do in the future based on what you were rewarded for doing (or punished for doing) in the past. Positive emotions cultivate habits. Negative emotions destroy them.


People often believe their opinions are well thought out when they are merely "well felt out." We easily mistake strong feelings for strong thoughts. Feelings are important, but if you can't state your opinion clearly, then you haven't thought it through yet.


The Paradox of Sacrifice: Feelings of sacrifice decrease as commitment increases. Sacrifice feels greatest when deciding between options of similar importance. You don’t know what you want to do. The more you commit to one thing, the less you care about missing out on others.


Gut reactions are usually very wrong or very right. Wrong when they are based purely on emotion and in domains where you lack experience. Right when they are rooted in deep understanding and well-developed taste. Trust your gut when you have the experience to back it up.


Bad habits and toxic relationships can become a crutch. They hurt us, but we know *how* they’ll hurt us. Meanwhile, improving your life is possible, but trying new things also involves uncertainty. Many people would rather repeat a known pain than deal with an unknown risk.


The person who can cultivate a sense of hope in others can sell almost anything.


What is the connection between time and emotion? Moments of flow feel much fuller than a typical minute. Great sorrow seems to stretch on forever. Even *feeling* bored makes that moment seem longer. The experience of time seems related to the depth of emotions in that moment.


The ideal form of work feels like play, but still accomplishes something useful and valuable. Joyful for you. Helpful to others.

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