Thursday, January 7, 2010

Making Changes II

In Part I of Making Changes, the need to control physical and mental stress figured as the main component for making good decisions involving self discipline and focus.  Yet, sometimes we are not in the perfect place to experience great physical health and no external stresses.  How can we make better choices in less than ideal conditions?

There are two main approaches advocated by Jonah Lehrer.  The first idea is that people who can delay gratification are able to withstand temptation.  The method usually used to delay gratification is distraction  Find something else to focus on and this takes away the battle point.  There is nothing wrong with turning attention elsewhere when the result brings success.  This technique was demonstrated by four year old children who were able to wait a whole twenty minutes for a second marshmallow (this is a big deal for a four year old).  The kids who distracted themselves with songs, their clothing or even pretending the marshmallow was a cloud passed the waiting period easily.  In fact, these childrenwere followed into their SAT years and went on to have higher scores than average and were even thinner on average as adults.  Distracting techniques are great.  An adult may have to distract themselves by changing their normal routine to avoid the triggers that weaken will power.

The second idea is that practice makes perfect.  True change is aquired after small single steps are made.  Each step builds success and propels an individual to have better self control.  The ego sets us up for failure making us think that only the big accomplishments matter.  Most wars are won with small battles.  Making the first step is the most important tool to creating lasting change.

Once the first step is successfully made to keep a resolution, one needs to reward himself.  Yes, a small little treat goes a long way.  However, the best reward is the thrill of success and the glow we get from appreciating the effort invested.

Here's hoping you keep all your resolutions.  Remember the battle plan:  good physical and mental health, distraction, taking it one step at a time and the payoff.

Stay healthy and well,

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