This is one of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen (no audio in there so don’t worry about checking your speakers):
Here’s an article that describes this. BTW, this past week, the NYT wrote an article about twitter as a rallying or gathering mechanism, and – most interesting to me – as a monitoring mechanism. There’s already a couple that had a baby kicking generate a twitter post that read: “I kicked Mommy at 08:52 PM on Fri, Jan 2!” Patients could hook up measurements like blood pressure or heart rate to twitter alert doctors of their status (remember that twitter accounts can also be private – you don’t have to be alerting the whole world).
You can follow the brain-writing-to-twitter account: @uwcbi.
You can follow me: @senia.
I’ve been working a lot with my clients on creating productive, successful habits. And for you to be able to create a new habit, you will often need to know what method of creating habits fits best for you.
Here are three various ways for taking on a habit:
If you’re an abstainer, you work best when you completely STOP – cold turkey – an old destructive way of acting. For you, it’s easier to say to yourself, “I will have no dessert after dinner, except on Saturday evening.”
If you’re a moderator, you work best when you do not deprive yourself, when you allow yourself some of the old habit. For you, it’s easier to say to yourself, “I will have just a little dessert every day after dinner – just one peppermnt pattie or just one small serving of jello.”
If you’re an in-fluxer, you are comfortable going between abstaining and moderating. For you, it’s easier to say to yourself, “Sometimes, I will have no dessert after dinner. Sometimes, I will have a small dessert. I’ll listen to my feelings and thoughts in the moment.”
I find that the in-fluxer is the most difficult position to be in because you need to constantly make ACTIVE decisions about your every action. On the other hand, both the abstainer and the moderator can set up some GOOD constraints, which make day-to-day decisions easier to make because many decisions become automatic. I would encourage you to determine which of the abstainer or the moderator you are in creating new habits. And if you’re an in-fluxer, what can you still do to make day-to-day decisions more automatic and simpler?
The “When I feel like it” reason sounds like this:
“I know. I know that’s important. But to call that person – that requires some guts. That requires some pushing of myself. I’m not sure. I know I’ll do it. Maybe tomorrow. I just feel that I have to feel confident before I make that call. I feel like I have to be sure of it.”
Surprise, surprise! Nothing in life in certain. Nothing in life is sure.
What are you going to do later today? And after that? How about even later?
Daniel Gilbert writes in Stumbling on Happiness, “Later! What an astonishing idea. What a powerful concerpt. What a fabulous discovery. How did human beings ever learn to preview in their imaginations chains of events that had not yet come to pass?”
Gilbert says the reason that “the human being is the only animal that thinks about the future” is that we have a well-developed frontal lobe. Alvaro and Caroline write wonderful entries about the interesting aspects of the frontal lobe all the time at SharpBrains (see here, here, and here). Gilbert says, “The frontal lobe – the last part of the human brain to evolve, the slowest to mature, and the first to deteriorate in old age – is a time machine that allows each of us to vacate the present and experience the future before it happens.”
Why do we care about the frontal lobe anyway? It turns out that without the frontal lobe, a person would not be able to plan. The words “today” and “later” would be blank concepts. A patient who suffered frontal lobe damage in a car accident at age 30 was asked to describe what he thinks about when he is asked to describe what he is doing tomorrow or even the concept of the word “tomorrow”: “Blank, I guess … it’s like being asleep … like being in a room with nothing there and having a guy tell you to go find a chair, and there’s nothing there….”
We think about “tomorrow” and “later” because we can – because our well-developed frontal lobes love that kind of activity, says Gilbert.
So, back to the original question: suppose you know that something is important. Suppose you know that you ought to do something. But you want to WAIT until…. until you’re better prepared, until you feel more confident about it, until someone else suggests that you do that action….
Let me tell you something briefly – the only context in which “until” is a beautiful word is in this quote by Jim Rohn:
â€œHow long should you try? Until.â€
If you don’t want to do the task that you know needs to be done… if you want to wait until you’re better prepared, you can blame your frontal lobe for its imagining just how prepared you’ll be tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. It does a great job of imagining – down to the details like the stains on the carpet if you’re imagining giving a speech… BUT… but your imagination can be very-very-super-very wrong, says Gilbert. “Imagination works so quickly, quietly, and effectively that we are insufficiently skeptical of its products.”
The next time you want to wait until –
You’re better prepared
You’re dressed better
You have your materials with you
It’s sunny outside
It’s exactly 2pm when you place the call
Your voice sounds good
- the next time any of that happens, just stop yourself, and say, “Why not now?”
Once of the most interesting pieces of advice I ever received was from a former reality-TV-star who I knew from years back, who said, “You know people can’t really tell if you’re having a bad hair day, or if you haven’t shaved… those things that to you seem like a big deal and a big difference relative to how you like to present yourself, are just a SMALL, SMALL PART of what other people see about you. So there’s no point wanting to look perfect before you walk up to someone. Go up to that person the way you are.”
Try this. Avoid the “when I feel like it” reason. This is the what Dave Seah writes about here on waiting until you’re motivated (Hint: this is part of a list Dave comments on; the list is “10 Steps to Guarantee Failure”).
Try avoiding using the “when I feel like it” reason. Try using the “I will do it anyway” reason. Try it – see how you like it!
I read over at Phil Windley’s Technometria about these great fun games that Jane McGonigal is creating using Positive Psychology principles. Some of the Positive Psychology ideas that Phil says Jane mentioned in her talk are (from Phil’s site):
* Quality of life is the primary metric for evaluating everyday technology
* Positive psychology is a principle influence for design
* The public expects tech companies to have a clear vision of a life worth living
* To succeed, a brand or product must increase real happiness, the new capital.
I’m especially interested in this because playing games increases your positive emotion, and we know from Fredrickson and Losada’s work that a positive emotion to negative emotion ratio of 3:1 contributes to increased world view, a broadening of intellectual resources, and a building of intellectual, social, and physical capital (meaning that you have more reserves to do what you want to do in life). Here is Jane’s site and some interactive games she’s created.
Do you guys have suggestions for how games can influence your day-to-day life or your weekends or your interactions with friends?
Just as you think you have something going well and straight and regular, it’s time to shake it up! Really. How long can you keep the same straight, regular going – and have it be enjoyable to you or to your colleagues, your readers…?
It’s got to always have a lot of pizazz! A lot. And you may come up with ideas that don’t work, but you may come up with a lot that do! And you get into the habit of creating newness, creating life.