‘rituals’

The Cold Machine Part I

There are so many experiments that prove that you have no clue as to what motivates you. Take the sock experiment. Four pairs of socks are laid out on a table and passers by are asked to pick the pair they like the best. They are labeled 1-4, with 1 being on the left side. Invariably, a majority picks the fourth pair, the one to the extreme right. 12% pick #1, 17% pick #2, 31% pick #3, and 40% pick #4. The socks are all exactly the same, but people have a natural bias to things that are on the right. Then the experiment is repeated, and this time after the person picks the pair they think are the best they are told that they are all the same, and they are surprised and skeptical. They are also told of the right side bias. Nobody believes it!

We all underestimate how much our beliefs and theories contribute to our observations and opinions, and are not all that open to how many other ways what we see could have been interpreted.

There is a ton of evidence that it is hard for us to reconcile our previous beliefs with new data that prove we are wrong. We have all experienced this. When I was a teenager I came down with an awful flu, I ran a fever that spiked up to 105 degrees. The last thing I ate before I got sick was a pear. For years I thought the pear had something to do with why I became so ill and couldn’t eat one. I also used to be a firm believer in not picking up heads down pennies to avoid bad luck. Do you believe the gambler’s fallacy? If you flip a coin and it comes up heads six times in a row, is a tail more likely on the seventh flip? No it is not, but try convincing the person that is hanging on at that losing slot machine because it has got to produce a win after so many loses. The hard cold data shows that each coin flip and each pull of the lever is an act not related to the one before.


Did You Brush Your Teeth Today Part III

 How come you brush your teeth everyday without struggle, without using any energy thinking about it, without becoming distracted from the task? The reason is that brushing your teeth is a well established ritual. No effort, no thought, you just do it. You were not born with a brushing your teeth as ritual gene. You developed it as a ritual. Given the benefit derived from brushing your teeth over your lifetime, the effort and time that it took to establish it as a ritual is minimal.

If you would like to make changes, make a resolution and keep it, change your focus to creating a ritual, and forget using self-discipline. It does not start off with no effort, but if you focus on creating a ritual for a relatively short amount of time, it quickly becomes effortless and you’ve got a new ritual that is moving you towards your goal.

Building rituals requires defining precise behavior and performing that behavior at a specific time. It also helps to be clear on your motivation for the behavior. Most of us don’t brush our teeth when we think of it. Some people do it as soon as they get out of bed, others after breakfast, but whenever it is, the time is the same every day, and you are doing the same thing every time. Your Mom, or whoever got you doing it, was highly motivated by wanting you to be healthy ( and saving on those dental bills).

This applies to any change that you want to introduce into your life, and can be done at any time of the year. It works, although, it works best if you limit yourself to one or two at a time. So do it now, think of one or two rituals that you would like to introduce into your life and commit to a regular time to practice them. Do it today, and soon it will be as easy as brushing your teeth.


Did You Brush Your Teeth Today? Part II

Do you brush your teeth every day? How is it going for you? Do you have to think about it and give yourself a pep talk to get yourself into the bathroom to brush?

While you are pondering these questions, here are a couple more. Did you make any resolutions about a year ago? If so, how many of them have you kept? If you are like many of us you have made and repeatedly broke resolutions. This erodes your confidence. It’s not keeping your word to yourself and that makes you feel bad about yourself.

You might be wondering what all these questions have in common. The short answer is that self-discipline does not work, change is hard and it is possible, but self-discipline is not the route. Studies have shown that we are all born with a finite amount of self-discipline that does not change over the course of our lives, so there is little you can do to get more.

 Check you our nest blog post to find our what you can do!


Did You Brush Your Teeth Today? Part1

Oh yeah, no bikes left, it’s January.”I think I’ll just run outside until January is over.” “Such a pain, there’s no parking spots, it’s January.””You have to get here so early to get into class, can’t wait until January is over.”

 These are the self-satisfied complaints of gym regulars this month, and I admit, me included! It is a pain that the gym is so crowded, and it feels good to know that we are not there because of soon to fade resolutions. We will still be there next month. But we weren’t born going to the gym regularly.

 This series of blogs is about  how you become a regular by making it a ritual so that it becomes just one of the things that you do (like brushing your teeth). Resolutions that you turn into rituals are goals that you attain

A couple of other tips about resolutions:

  • Make it part of a big goal. For example, don’t make it about going to the gym. Make it about being healthy so you will be able to play with your great-grandchildren
  • Work on one at a time.
  • Pick something that you really want to achieve, not something you should achieve.

My daughter Camille once said to me that she finds projects “so fun” because of the way that you feel inside when you complete them. I hope that these blog posts help you to find your resolutions “so fun”. and that you feel so good when you attain them.


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