I came across this sort of goofy article about how people’s personalities shift depending on where they live. Why do I call it goofy? Because insofar as “personality” refers to stable characteristics of an individual, it shouldn’t be especially mutable based on location. But what the article does capture is that the environment we live in goes a long way toward determining how we express those personality traits through behavior. Continue reading Where You Are Is Who You Are: Personality By Geography
I hate mornings. I pretty much always have (see photographic evidence below). That said, as an adult I’ve had to force myself to shift my natural sleep cycle quite a bit earlier than I’d like it to be, on account of pesky factors like “having a job.” Lately, as my evening commitments have grown more intense, I’ve even been able to bang out the occasional a.m. workout. It makes me feel like I don’t even know myself anymore. Continue reading Early Birds, Night Owls, and Getting It Done
Habits can set people free, in some ways. By automating desired behavior patterns, we can make it easier to accomplish goals without conscious daily effort. Forming habits is a goal of many behavior change protocols, and something I personally try to incorporate into my self-improvement attempts. But recently I came across a line in a novel that made me wonder if it’s really that straightforward. Continue reading Does Habit Tie Us Down or Set Us Free?
Most of us are familiar with the idea of a self-reward. If you want to lose weight, you might decide to give yourself a new pair of shoes when you hit a milestone. Maybe you only watch your favorite tv show after you finish doing your least favorite work task. Or, to borrow a provocative example from Kathleen Milkman, maybe you only eat your most favorite hamburger when spending time with your least favorite person (for those of you with cranky relatives). If you do use self-rewards, psychology can help make them more effective for you. Continue reading Treat Yo’ Self: How To Use Rewards to Effectively Promote New Habits
A few months ago, I spoke with Shape.com about a phenomenon they dubbed “streaking.” Streaking refers to performing a specific health-related behavior every day for a certain period of time (a week, a month, a year). As an example, Runner’s World facilitates season-based run streaks including social media posts and badges that can be shared on one’s profile. I’ve also seen people commit to some type of exercise every day for a month, often during January or February when New Year’s resolutions abound. Continue reading My First Streaking Experience
I’ve done a lot of work on medication adherence and helping people to remember to take their medications as prescribed. When we’ve asked people who sometimes have trouble remembering their medications why, over half of them give some reason related to routine. Examples include: Continue reading Six Ways to Remember Your Meds
Last week I attended the Hx Refactored conference in Boston, which was amazing. One of the speakers who I saw was Dr. Kyra Bobinet of engagedIN. As an MD with a degree in public health and a focus on behavior change, Dr. Bobinet puts a neurological spin on how we understand habit formation. Continue reading Neural Pathways to Habit
In 2004, I had Lasik. Let me start off by saying, that procedure is the bomb. My vision wasn’t too bad to start with–I could navigate my apartment without glasses–but I had to wear them if I left the house, drove, or wanted to watch a tv that was more than three feet from my face. Plus, glasses are annoying. They irritate your ears and nose, fog up when you cook or exercise or move from air conditioned areas, and get super-dirty all the time. Continue reading Why I Miss Wearing Glasses
Front-loading your year with a set of promises to improve is not a winning strategy. And it’s not because people aren’t capable of change, either. It’s that the psychology of the New Year’s resolution is not compatible with the way people make difficult transitions:
- It happens immediately following the holidays, when people are re-entering a regular work routine, may have just had emotionally charged family gatherings, and likely gained a few pounds from uncharacteristic eating and drinking.
- It happens during a time of year that for many of us is cold and dark.
- The focus on making the new year a good one may lead people to craft overly lofty or unwieldy resolutions that are difficult to achieve.
From research on habit formation, motivational design, and willpower, we can extract a few characteristics of resolutions that work. They are: Continue reading Remake Your Resolution Strategy
The office where I work has a tradition of assigning everyone a new desk each quarter. At first, I was skeptical about this–it has some obvious drawbacks, like the time lost to physically moving all of your stuff four times a year. But one major advantage I’ve found is that it limits my exposure to unhealthy food triggers, at least part of the year.
My first several months here, I sat next to the kitchen. This means that saying no to the catered lunch or platter of brownies wasn’t a one time deal, but something I had to do repeatedly throughout the course of the day. It won’t surprise anyone to learn that my willpower would eventually crumble, usually around 2 or 3 pm after several hours of meetings and mental exertion, and I’d be sitting there with the remains of dessert in my lap feeling bad about the poor choice I’d just made. Continue reading Building Healthy Habits: Hide Your Triggers!