- How To Quit Bad Habits Without Willpower: 4 Secrets From Neuroscience
- No exceptions
- Is it research... or procrastination?
If someone forwarded you this email 📨, it’s because they think you’re smart 🧠 and curious 🤔.
Thing 1 - How To Quit Bad Habits Without Willpower: 4 Secrets From Neuroscience
Know how your brain works
Your brain 🧠 has
- an angel 😇 on one shoulder and
- a devil 😈 on the other.
Well, no Z, that's not how the brain works.
Sure it is, we just don't call them that.
- We call the angel "prefrontal cortex".
- We call the devil "orbitofrontal cortex".
But that's a lot of typing and it makes this harder to read. So angel and devil are what we're going with.
And these two have zero religious bases 🤷
Devil remembers all the things that felt good and eagerly raises its hand in class, shouting to the teacher "Pick me!"
It's also super fast so you don't even notice it most times.
Use attention to rub the devil's nose in its own poop. (omg, Z, aggressive much? - Do you want results or what?)
It can jog his memory with a little bit of persuasion. Update how the reward of any behavior feels.
Which brings us to...
Map the behavior
Ask "What do I get from this?" 🎁 - This is the reward your devil thinks it's gonna get.
Now that you know that, how do you use that information?
Give in, but observe your feelings. The devil cheats and doesn't report the full picture.
Yes, cookies taste good. But do the regret and stomachache add to the flavor?
The devil doesn't give up so easily...
"Hmmm" is your new mantra
You are not your thoughts and feelings.
- Observe them.
- Get curious.
The urge will fade. (Don’t you roll your eyes at me. It will.)
(Source and a great read: Eric Barker)
Thing 2 - No exceptions
Apollo 11 astronauts (yes, those that went to the Moon!) had to go through customs after returning from the Moon.
They declared their cargo of Moon rocks and Moondust and listed their travel route as starting at Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral) in Florida with a stopover on the Moon.
They were trapped inside a NASA trailer as part of a quarantine effort just in case they brought back any germs or diseases from the Moon. Not much different than traveling by plane in recent years.
Any idea if they had to pay import tax too or did they get the souvenirs from the Moon's duty-free shop?
Why the heck wouldn't you allow exceptions in extreme cases?
- If the reasons for the rule still apply.
- If an exception would be a precedent to change the rule.
- It's ceremonial and sets things off on the right path.
Anything I missed?
Thing 3 - Is it research... or procrastination?
Is your reading and research supplementing your actions or substituting for them? Research is useful until it becomes a form of procrastination.
- James Clear
James woke up and chose violence.
I often do more research when I'm not ready to make a decision.
It gives me a better idea of the field and helps me make "the right" decision.
But would I be better off if I picked something sub-optimal and corrected it along the way?
What do you think? Do you do the same thing? Does this thing trigger you? 🙃
Is it the right time to stop and get some sleep? Let's see.
P.S. What was your favorite thing this week?