Friday, 31 March 2017

[] Change for Good!


Change for Good!

Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel

Breaking habits requires sustained effort, but our brains are hardwired to make the least effort possible. Here's how to get around that and make changes that actually last

The science of behaviour change tells us that if you want to make a change, you need to know why you're making the change -but for that change to really last, you need more than knowledge. When it comes to change, our minds don't work rationally. We operate largely out of automatic patterns and impulses. Thus the donut instead of the vegetable omelet, the firm resolutions that weaken when it's time to work out or meditate. As a species, we humans have much less personal control than we would like to think. Fortunately, behavioural science tells us how to make changes that stick.

First, identify a change you'd like to make.

Choose one area (such as exercise) and a change you'd like to make (such as starting a walking program). Before you make that change, ask yourself three questions:

1 On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your readiness to make this change?

(A ranking of 1 would mean you're not at all ready; 10 means extremely ready.) If you rank your readiness at 6 or lower, go to the question below to explore what truly motivates you. Then, rate your readiness again. If your readiness score does not increase, choose a different goal.

Many of us engage in behaviours we'd like to change, but we feel stuck or ambivalent.Find one small behaviour you feel ready to focus on now. One change leads to another, so focusing on one small change is the right place to put your efforts now. For tough, compulsive behaviours like excessive smoking, drinking, and overeating, you might consult a professional coach or therapist who is an expert in "motivational interviewing," a dialogue that helps people develop clear goals, get past obstacles, and meet the goals.

2 What about this change is meaningful to you?

Ask yourself what things are most important to you. Try to tie your goal to your deepest priorities in life, as in "I want to begin a walking program, because I want to be healthy and independent, in my own home, for as long as possible." Or "I want to be active in the lives of my child and grandchildren."

The tighter the connection between your goal and your values and priorities, the more likely you are to stick with the change.

Choosing intrinsic goals -those related to relationships, enjoyment, and meaning in life -works better than choosing external goals (which tend to be about wealth, fame, or how others view us). They have more lasting power for behavior change and bring us more happiness.

3 On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can make this change?

If you're at a 6 or lower, change your goal to make it smaller and easier to achieve. Identify any obstacles that dragged your rating down and make a realistic plan for overcoming them.

Think of obstacles with that "challenge" mind-set -this is an opportunity to bring in some good stress. Another way to increase efficacy and success is to think of a past proud moment when you overcame an obstacle.

Self-efficacy ratings like this are our crystal ball; they've been shown to be one of the biggest predictors of our future behavior. Confidence about whether we can carry out a specific task determines a cascade of events: whether we will even try a new behavior in the first place, whether we will persist at it once we hit obstacles.

Get into the self-efficacy positive loop -achieving a small part of our goal boosts our confidence, which carries us to the next step, which boosts our confidence further. Next, consider whether you're trying to create a new habit or to break an old one. The answer will determine which strategies apply to you.


Our brains are equipped for automaticity, for making the least effort possible. Make automaticity work for you, not against you.Here's how:


Slip into your new habit painlessly, in small doses.

If you want to get more sleep, don't try to go to bed an hour earlier each night. That's too hard.Start by going to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night. If that's not doable, start with an even smaller goal: ten minutes, five minutes . . . whatever feels easy and nonthreatening. From there, you can build slowly toward your goal.


Tack your small change onto an activity that's already a routine part of your day. That way, you'll have to think less about when to make the change, and eventually it will become routine, too.

For example, whenever I (Liz) wait for my computer to complete loading my e-mail, it's a trigger for me to do a micromeditation. For other people, the lunch break is a trigger that it's time to take a walk.

Hitching the behavior to an already embedded one helps you stick to your plan.


Try to schedule your change for the morning. The earlier in the day, the less likely it is that other urgent priorities will nudge your new behavior off your schedule.You may feel stronger determination, which you can visualize as a green light that flashes "DO IT."


When it's time to go to the gym (or make any other change), don't ask yourself "Should I?" Making decisions is exhausting. And in a weak moment the answer may well be "Tomorrow." Just go. Walk there like an unthinking zombie if you have to.


Have a quick mini-celebration each time you practice your new habit.

Consciously say to yourself, "Great!" or "I did it!" or "DONE!" and let yourself feel pride. Or put aside a dollar each time in a collection for some personal indulgence after ten times.


Trying to end an old, unwanted habit takes willpower, which is, sadly, a limited resource. Plus, plenty of unhealthy habits make us feel good, at least for a few moments. Sugary foods and drinks, for example, make your brain's reward system light up.We can become neurobiologically dependent on that sugar rush.Breaking the habit takes patience and persistence.


We are best able to exert control when the brain networks that foster analytical thought are activated. When there is more activity in the prefrontal cortex, some of the more emotional areas in the amygdala are inhibited.

Exercise, relaxation meditation, and foods that are high in quality protein promote this optimal mental state (and stress thwarts it).


Sleep loss, low blood sugar, or high emotional stress can deplete you of your willpower. Wait until the conditions are in your favor.


Don't keep sweets, soda, or other reminders of your unwanted habit around the house, and certainly not within sight. Cookies and chips, when they do end up at home, should be out of sight in a high cupboard, not on the kitchen counter in a bowl. You may be able to resist temptation once, but saying no several times a day is exhausting. Your limited supply of willpower may run out. These tips are called stimulus control -we attempt control over our environment as much as we can so we are not surrounded by the tempting stimuli.


You'll have more energy to stoke your willpower. If you're a night owl, you'll be more able to resist temptation in the evening, and more likely to succumb in the early morning. Plan accordingly.And take healthy snack breaks at your personal low points -the times of day when you tend to feel tired. This will sustain your energy for when you need to draw on your willpower.

Last, there is one strategy that helps almost everyone in every case, regardless of whether you are trying to start or stop something: social support.

Ask your family and friends to help support your new goal. Tell them what would be helpful.Turn your accomplices (those who help you do exactly what you don't want to do) into supportive influences or . . . avoid them! You could find a partner with similar goals to share the journey with you.

Excerpted with permission from The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel published by Hachette India

Fun & Info @


Posted by: Cool Kis <>
Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)

Have you tried the highest rated email app?
With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.

KERALITES - A moderated eGroup exclusively for Keralites...

To subscribe send a mail to
Send your posts to
Send your suggestions to

To unsubscribe send a mail to




No comments:

Post a Comment