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A keystone is defined as a stone at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place. As it relates to habits, a keystone habit is one that sets off a chain reaction of other habits related to it. Essentially a keystone habit helps hold the related habits in place. Keystone habits are like any other habit in that they can be considered good or bad.

Good keystone habits evoke positive outcomes and set off a chain reaction of other habits that increase a person’s quality of life. Or they can be a bad keystone habit that ends up negatively affecting life and brings with it more bad habits. Possibly the most well-known positive keystone habit is daily exercise. When you’re able to make daily exercise a habit, it most likely will become a keystone habit. In that it will bring with it other positive habits.

Let’s say you’ve spent the last month making sure you make time to go to the gym every single day, no matter what. The effort you put in translates to more related habits. Things like, you stop eating out as much, so that you can control your calorie intake more closely. This leads to spending less money because you’re cooking at home more often. And you end up cutting down on your alcohol consumption because you’re staying home more often. Because you exercise daily, you are more tired at the end of the day, so you start going to bed earlier and ultimate get a better night’s sleep. All of these smaller habits formed because of the daily exercise, making it a keystone habit.

As many positive small habits that can come from a keystone habit such as daily exercise, the same can happen with a bad keystone habit. Take drug use, for example. The habit of abusing a drug daily can take over your life in such a way that most of your decisions become based on the addiction. Your life is negatively affected overall. Therefore, it’s very important to keep a close eye on your daily habits. Self-examination of habits and honesty with yourself are crucial, in an attempt to get rid of any habits, especially keystone habits that sabotage your happiness. Your goal should be to develop a positive keystone habit and let the smaller positive habits that come along with it bring you a happier, more fulfilled life.


Burnout recovery specialist, intuitive, and physician Dr. Veronica Anderson teaches high-performing professional women how to make successful career, health, and life transformations by overcoming challenges and developing resilience. She is the author of three bestselling books and splits her time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Harlem, New York City, with her husband and two dogs, Artemis and Apollo.