We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Aimee recently wrote a kick-ya-in-your-pants, take-action post about why complaining is literally killing us. And in closing, she challenged us to be a more positive version of ourselves.
How is that working for you?
Was changing behavior a big challenge?Â If so, you’re probably using conventional wisdomâ€™s â€œjust use willpowerâ€ approach. Which doesnâ€™t work.
Yes, willpower, that thing that you wish you had more of — is hogwash.
In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt paints a helpful picture. Imagine the emotional part of your brain as an Elephant, and your rational side as itâ€™s Rider. The Rider holds the reigns and looks in charge, but sheâ€™s so small compared to the 12,000 poundÂ Elephant. If they disagree on which direction to go, the Elephant wins. Youâ€™ve seen this in action if youâ€™ve ever hit snooze repeatedly, overeaten, procrastinated, or skipped a workout.
Another way of putting it: Willpower is a limited resource. The Rider may win in the beginning, but as soon as life happens (stress, lack of sleepâ€¦hunger) the Elephant wakes up and takes over.
So is behavior change hopeless? Heck no!
ESCAPINGÂ THE CIRCUSÂ
To make lasting behavior change, ditch willpower and focus on habits.
Habits let us do more, with less effort.
Have you ever been in a car, and the driver automatically starts going their usual route, even though they know they want to go somewhere else? Thatâ€™s the power of habit. After enough times, your brain goes, “hmm, you’ve done this behavior over and over again. Since I basically know what you want, I’m gonna put it on auto-pilot, so you can focus on other things.”
BUILD OR BREAK
Depending on if youâ€™re trying to build or break a habit, thereâ€™s different strategies.
For Aimeeâ€™s challenge to stop complaining, the best approach is to become mindful of when you complain.
What’s theÂ best way to do this? Track it.
[Side note: Thereâ€™s an interesting phenomenon in psychology, that when people track a behavior, the frequency of the behavior gradually diminishes. This partially explains why keeping a food journal (or better yet, a digital food photo journal, where you take a picture of your food BEFORE you eat) is associated with weight loss. Yep, just tracking food can help you lose weight, even without intentionallyÂ adjusting your intake. Take that Elephant!]
Are you with Aimee to change your life and stop complaining?! Then join fellow SoCalianâ€™s and take the 21-Day No Complaint Challenge. Itâ€™s a provenÂ habit-breaking tactic. You can read about the origins of the challenge here, but hereâ€™s the rules:
- Put a bracelet (rubber band or one of these cute hair-ties from the TrendSetters Store) on your wrist.
- If you catch yourself complainingÂ without following-up with a solution to improve the situation, then you move the bracelet to the other wrist.
- Repeat until you reachÂ 21 consecutive days without moving the bracelet.
Hereâ€™s a few examples:
- â€œIâ€™m so slow.â€ (Complaint)
- â€œIâ€™m so slowâ€¦ Iâ€™m gonna go toÂ Foundation and work on quickness.” (Non-complaint)
- “I don’t get a lot of playing time.” (Complaint)
- “I don’t get a lot of playing time…I’m going to ask coach for skills I can improve on, that’ll help the team succeed.” (Non-complaint)
- â€œMy knee hurts.â€ (Complaint)
- â€œMy knee hurtsâ€¦ Iâ€™m gonna go toÂ Gwen Alden, PT and rehabÂ it.â€ (Non-complaint)
- â€œI’m bad at serve receive.â€ (Complaint)
- â€œI’m bad at serve receiveâ€¦ Iâ€™m going to go to Sunday Open Gym for at least 30 minutes and practice.â€ (Non-complaint)
- â€œI’m bad at serve receiveâ€¦ Iâ€™m going to do an Indoor PRO Series session and get extra coaching from Karolyn Kirby.â€Â (Non-complaint)
â€‹HaveÂ other methods you’ve used to successfully break a habit? I’d love to hear those too.
This article was originally published on www.spiritpizza.com