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ChrisV

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Hey guys, I wrote this somewhat popular piece on Medium a while back and figured this would be a good place to share it as well. It’s a technique I developed for gaining a pretty large amount of leverage over your own behavior, but it can also help you gain leverage over the behavior of your clients. By understanding what motivates people, you can motivate them in the direction you want (of course, don’t do this maliciously.)

From the article:


The science of human motivation is actually pretty simple.

In the 1930’s Harvard Psychologist B. F. Skinner, now known to be the father of modern behaviorism created a device now colloquiallly called the Skinner Box.



The box consisted of a space for an animal (typically a pidgeon or rat,) a single lever, a mechanism that delivered a treat, and an electrified grid on the floor. If the lever were pressed when the light was green, a treat was dispensed. If the lever were pressed when the light was red, a shock was delivered. The results of these experiments were very simple: the animals learned to only press the lever while the light was green, and to refrain from pressing it while it was red.

What we learned from these experiments was also very simple. Organisms take action based on the expected reward of that action.

Later experiments showed the same thing over and over. A rat will push a lever if it knows a treat will come out. A rat will avoid another lever if it knows a shock will come. And later experiments showed that these same findings applied to humans as well. A human will perform a behavior if he/she believes there’s a possibility of pleasure, and he/she will avoid a behavior if he/she believes there’s a possibility of pain. This feedback mechanism was very beneficial to us throughout our evolutionary history. Anything that could harm us (fire, a bear attack, hunger) became unpleasant, while anything that would benefit us or our genes (food, safety, sex) resulted in a pleasant feeling. This feedback mechanism has become a little screwy in our complex modern times, but throughout almost all of history, it was extremely beneficial to us.

To put it simply: humans are wired to move toward pleasure and run from pain.

This isn’t a novel concept and all of us know this intuitively. But understanding this gives us enormous leverage over our own behavior. All our behaviors are basically complex string of ways to gain rewards or avoid punishments. “If I go to work, I will get money, which I can trade for food (treats)” or “I need to go to work, to get money to avoid poverty (pain)” On a cognitive level, while it may be true, that person believes that if they go to work they will get money, if they have money, they can buy food or other treats.

Skinner was able to get animals to perform all kinds of complex behaviors by stringing together rewards. He was able to get pigs to put money in a piggy bank. He was able to teach Pigeons to play ping pong.
Further down the article describes the behavior change method:

When we use that leverage to our advantage we can change our behavior very easily, and very quickly. And without the feeling of giving anything up.

Our behavior change technique revolves around changing our perceptions regarding a certain action. The action may be eating healthy, quitting a harmful substance, doing something good for our career/business, starting a healthy behavior like exercise, or getting over a fear.

If we can change the things we link ideas to, we can change the behavior easily and painlessly. But we need to understand that a certain behavior isn’t generally linked to only one set of pleasure or pain. It’s usually linked to multiple, often conflicting ideas, some rewarding, some punishing. For example people may want a reward, but also feel fear in pursuing that reward. One illustration would be a gentleman may want the reward of meeting woman he finds attractive, but also want to avoid the pain of possible rejection. Those competing ideas will be conflict. In that case the two ideas would be weighed and whichever feeling were more powerful would be the action he takes.
Continued.... The master key to changing habits and behavior for good.

Anyway, what are your guys’ thoughts. I definitely wouldn’t mind hearing your guys’ perspectives.
 

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SethLBender

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This is a valid point that maybe we should focus on the things that might be of some pain or displeasure but will reap better rewards in time. Do the opposite. I've thought for a very long time that so many things are backwards in life.
 

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I think the book "The Power of Habit" provides some valuable distinctions and seems to refer to more current science.

Point one:

The utitily of habits is that processes that are turned into habits consume less willpower (almost none).
As an entrepreneur, there are dangers. You do not want to cross over into zombie mode and do the same things over and over again, so maybe you want to establish a process that includes reflection and updating plans etc. as a habit rather than current workflows that are likely to change soon.

Point two:

It is possible to modify a habit, but hard to create a new one and almost impossible to erase one. To modify a habit, it is important to understand
1. what triggers it,
2. what the process is, exactly
3. and what the reward is.

According to the book, your intuition can be misleading. You need to systematically experiment until you are sure.
You can change the process realatively easily, but changing trigger or reward is not easy at all.
 
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Ayanle Farah

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I use a very simple method I read in a blog.

Reminder, Routine, Reward.
Create a reminder that will set alarm clocks in your brain that it's time to do the habit, do the habit and give yourself a small reward for it, a compliment or pat yourself on the shoulder.

Start really small to where you have no reason not to do it and maintain that, soon it'll be automatic and it's ok if you miss a day, you just go back to it, remember it's a habit, not a goal so don't think of any outcome.

Sometimes you might want to do more and feel like you're exerting yourself, to that I have my own quote I always repeat to myself.
"Consistency is more important than intensity".
 
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ChrisV

ChrisV

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This is a valid point that maybe we should focus on the things that might be of some pain or displeasure but will reap better rewards in time. Do the opposite. I've thought for a very long time that so many things are backwards in life.
Yes, of course, but the point is to connect it to the reward. For instance if you’re cleaning. You can think how horrible the task is, or you can think about how awesome your home is going to look after you clean. The key isn’t to avoid certain tasks, it’s to frame them as rewards making you more likely to do them.

The point is not to ignore tedious tasks, but to make them more salient
 
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ChrisV

ChrisV

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I use a very simple method I read in a blog.

Reminder, Routine, Reward.
Create a reminder that will set alarm clocks in your brain that it's time to do the habit, do the habit and give yourself a small reward for it, a compliment or pat yourself on the shoulder.

Start really small to where you have no reason not to do it and maintain that, soon it'll be automatic and it's ok if you miss a day, you just go back to it, remember it's a habit, not a goal so don't think of any outcome.

Sometimes you might want to do more and feel like you're exerting yourself, to that I have my own quote I always repeat to myself.
"Consistency is more important than intensity".
You would love the book The Power of Habit. That’s where that original Cue, Routine, Reward research comes from.

the-habit-loop.jpg

How Habits Work - Charles Duhigg

Also, along those lines is Tiny Habits bu BJ Fogg (not a book) and Mini Habits by Steven Guise (book.)
 
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ChrisV

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I think the book "The Power of Habit" provides some valuable distinctions and seems to refer to more current science.

Point one:

The utitily of habits is that processes that are turned into habits consume less willpower (almost none).
As an entrepreneur, there are dangers. You do not want to cross over into zombie mode and do the same things over and over again, so maybe you want to establish a process that includes reflection and updating plans etc. as a habit rather than current workflows that are likely to change soon.

Point two:

It is possible to modify a habit, but hard to create a new one and almost impossible to erase one. To modify a habit, it is important to understand
1. what triggers it,
2. what the process is, exactly
3. and what the reward is.

According to the book, your intuition can be misleading. You need to systematically experiment until you are sure.
You can change the process realatively easily, but changing trigger or reward is not easy at all.
Yes, I’ve read the book and know the research (I actually didn’t see your post before I responder to the last post,) but this technique is totally different. See, the problem with that approach is that it uses willpower in the first place, which is unreliable, uncomfortable and takes a ‘suck it up, bite the bullet’ approach and frames things as chores. I find that the key is make the act itself a reward. There are people who actually enjoy washing their car. Why? They’re not thinking of “car washing” as “ugh, I have to scrub all this dirt off” they’re thinking of it as “sweet, i get a clean car.” I actually created this as a direct response to willpower based methods due to their flaws.

I had a few issues with that book. For one, even if you have a habit.. once the reward disappears, the behavior will disappear. And there are a number of things that will erase a habit.

Extinction (psychology) - Wikipedia

In short terms, people perform a behavior to get the reward. For instance let’s say the Routine -> Reward loop was smoke a cigarette (Routine) -> get a nicotine hit (Reward) Nicotine hits dopamine receptors, giving them a tiny hit of pleasure. If you replaced that smoker’s cigarettes with nicotine-free cigarettes every day for a month, they would stop getting a buzz from it, and the behavior would cease. It’s like if you push the remote control to change the channel (Routine) and a better show comes on (Reward)... if that button broke, and every time you grabbed the remote to change the channel, nothing happened... it wouldn’t take long. before you said ‘f--- this.’ We call that extinction.

My technique is totally different though. It’s more like... the same way that advertisers use to get people to buy their products... you can use in your life to persuade yourself to take certain actions.
 

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@ChrisV I read your article and your logic is sound, but your strategy is not practical.

Your strategy assumes that humans are rational. But, the truth is, we are all delusional and irrational.

People aren't persuaded by facts and logic. People are persuaded by many other things including their experiences and their environment.

BF Skinner's theories have been disproven in the real world through countless studies. His techniques only worked because he was able to control the animal's environment and he provided an immediate reward.

Humans don't live in a controlled environment and most good behavior doesn't lead to immediate reward. And trying to logically convince yourself that something is a reward isn't going to work.

As Derek Sivers says "If more information was the answer, we'd all be billionaires with six packs."

How many millions of people have read @MJ DeMarco 's TMF and Unscripted? They are the ultimate pro/cons lists for entrepreneurship. But, how many readers have actually started businesses?

In one of your examples you mention:

"This gentleman can be taught to easily speak with women by decreasing the perception of pain [fear] and increasing perception of pleasure [meeting a nice woman,] and can actually be taught to enjoy it."

This is correct. But, this can't be done with a pro and cons list. This can't be done with logic. This is done through experience.

Ideally a mentor or coach takes the guy out to a club. Forces him to talk to women. The guy has to decide between getting rejected by strange women OR being embarrassed in front of a coach/mentor he admires or that he has paid.

He decides to deal with the immediate rejection of the women instead of dealing with the immediate embarrassment from the friend/mentor/coach. Then he actually experiences success or he realizes that failure isn't so bad.

So he isn't taught through lectures or logic, but through experience.

The key is stakes and/or accountability. They force you into action. Then you learn through action.

You can increase stakes through public announcements OR through websites like:

stickK

You can increase accountability through online forums, coaches, mentors, and/or masterminds.

Another one of your examples was:

"Lets say someone is having a hard time finding the motivation to start exercising."

Your pros and cons theory would work if we were a logical species. Maybe if we were Vulcan. But, we aren't.

Better strategies would be:
  • Pay for three months of personal training
  • Find a workout buddy and promise to hold each other accountable
  • Set up a situation where you have to pay money to someone that you don't like, every time that you don't go to the gym
  • Join a cult, I mean community, like CrossFit
  • Make a workout pledge on Instagram/Facebook and start posting pictures
  • Make a bet that if you miss a workout, you have to post a naked picture of yourself on Instagram or Facebook
  • Use stickk.com or dietbet.com or waybetter.com/runbet
The key is to setup stakes and/or accountability to get the person executing. Execution leads to small wins. Small wins lead to more execution. Then this positive feedback loop ultimately leads to success.
 

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@Ayanle Farah The Mini Habits and Tiny Habits strategies can work as well because they execution so easy. And the feedback loop can start. But, even Mini/Tiny Habit strategies can be improves with stakes and/or accountability.
 

Ayanle Farah

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@Ayanle Farah The Mini Habits and Tiny Habits strategies can work as well because they execution so easy. And the feedback loop can start. But, even Mini/Tiny Habit strategies can be improves with stakes and/or accountability.
That's where I'm at atm, I'm thinking if I go further or do more of the habit that I'll get discouraged in the long run and quit.
 

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ChrisV

ChrisV

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@ChrisV I read your article and your logic is sound, but your strategy is not practical.

Your strategy assumes that humans are rational. But, the truth is, we are all delusional and irrational.

People aren't persuaded by facts and logic. People are persuaded by many other things including their experiences and their environment.

BF Skinner's theories have been disproven in the real world through countless studies. His techniques only worked because he was able to control the animal's environment and he provided an immediate reward.

Humans don't live in a controlled environment and most good behavior doesn't lead to immediate reward. And trying to logically convince yourself that something is a reward isn't going to work.

As Derek Sivers says "If more information was the answer, we'd all be billionaires with six packs."

How many millions of people have read @MJ DeMarco 's TMF and Unscripted? They are the ultimate pro/cons lists for entrepreneurship. But, how many readers have actually started businesses?

In one of your examples you mention:

"This gentleman can be taught to easily speak with women by decreasing the perception of pain [fear] and increasing perception of pleasure [meeting a nice woman,] and can actually be taught to enjoy it."

This is correct. But, this can't be done with a pro and cons list. This can't be done with logic. This is done through experience.

Ideally a mentor or coach takes the guy out to a club. Forces him to talk to women. The guy has to decide between getting rejected by strange women OR being embarrassed in front of a coach/mentor he admires or that he has paid.

He decides to deal with the immediate rejection of the women instead of dealing with the immediate embarrassment from the friend/mentor/coach. Then he actually experiences success or he realizes that failure isn't so bad.

So he isn't taught through lectures or logic, but through experience.

The key is stakes and/or accountability. They force you into action. Then you learn through action.

You can increase stakes through public announcements OR through websites like:

stickK

You can increase accountability through online forums, coaches, mentors, and/or masterminds.

Another one of your examples was:

"Lets say someone is having a hard time finding the motivation to start exercising."

Your pros and cons theory would work if we were a logical species. Maybe if we were Vulcan. But, we aren't.

Better strategies would be:
  • Pay for three months of personal training
  • Find a workout buddy and promise to hold each other accountable
  • Set up a situation where you have to pay money to someone that you don't like, every time that you don't go to the gym
  • Join a cult, I mean community, like CrossFit
  • Make a workout pledge on Instagram/Facebook and start posting pictures
  • Make a bet that if you miss a workout, you have to post a naked picture of yourself on Instagram or Facebook
  • Use stickk.com or dietbet.com or waybetter.com/runbet
The key is to setup stakes and/or accountability to get the person executing. Execution leads to small wins. Small wins lead to more execution. Then this positive feedback loop ultimately leads to success.
The idea of how relevant lab studies are on the real world has been studied ad nauseam.

Some people believe that laboratory studies cannot be used to generalize to realworld problems. To address this issue, leading researchers were asked to compare findings from laboratory experiments with those from field experiments in 11 areas of human and organizational behavior; the findings were similar (Locke 1986). In addition, an analysis of 40 studies on sources of communication found similar effects from field and laboratory studies (Wilson and Sherrell 1993).

Science is heavily reliant on lab studies, so the question if results from labrotory studies can be applied to a field setting had been studied extensively. And every every time we test it, we find that lab results are a good indication of real world conditions, with some caveats (that don’t apply to this conversation.)

41gFA+fyizL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0669166405/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20

A number of things in your post are factually incorrect. I use this technique all the time, and while that’s anecdotal, these ideas are literally foundational to therapies like CBT, which are evidence based therapies with more science behind them than a forest has trees. CBT is literally considered the gold standard for evidence-based behavior change, and these methods are very much in line with them.

Another example is: Allen Carr’s Quit Smoking method (which has one of the highest success rates of any quit smoking method) uses something very very very similar, which is actually how I came up with this technique. I read Allen Carr’s book and almost by magic, I lost any desire to smoke. No willpower. No fighting. And I thought “Holy F*ck, if this technique worked that well for something as extreme as smoking, I wonder if I could reverse engineer it to work for other things.” And I did. And it does.

The effectiveness of the Allen Carr smoking cessation training in companies tested in a quasi-experimental design
Results

Logistic regression analyses showed that when baseline characteristics were comparable, significantly more responding smokers were continuously abstinent in the ACt condition compared to the control condition, Exp(B) = 6.52 (41.1% and 9.6%, respectively). The all-cases analysis was also significant, Exp(B) = 5.09 (31.5% and 8.3%, respectively).

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 1.06.23 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 1.06.15 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 1.05.53 PM.png

Another misconception is surrounding the idea of logic and emotions. Logic causes emotions. It’s a shortcut to emotions. This is an extremely complex topic I can’t get into right now but for more information on this, study RFT.

Relational Frame Theory (RFT) crash course pt 1

This is correct. But, this can't be done with a pro and cons list. This can't be done with logic. This is done through experience.

Yes it can, to an extent. Whether a pro/con list is going to work for deep seated emotional issues.. it depends. If that person feels an extreme fear they can use a fear extinction therapy, but that type of stuff is beyond the scope of my short blog post. You can’t include all those details in a blog post and a cost/benefit analysis may not handle extreme emotions. For that, there are more advanced techniques.

As far as if humans are persuaded by logic, YES, they are. Example: a reader sees an advertisement for an product. That advertisement lists all the benefits of that product. Now the user feels an EMOTION compelling him to buy that product. The interplay between logic and emotions is complex and beyond the scope of this post, but logic plays an enormous role. Logic and emotion are complexly intertwined.

Please don’t take that as an invitation to a debate or something, because I’m sure about all this. Im not guessing.

Words can influence behavior. Whether they have 1000% control over someone’s behavior is another story, but words and logic do have a huge influence on behavior, hence the entire industry of advertising. Otherwise logic would have never evolved and would have no use.

But if you’d like to go start a thread about accountability techniques, you are more than welcome to. They work to some extent, but that’s not what this thread is about. A lot of different techniques work. This one just works particularly well.
 
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Rawseed

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@ChrisV You seem to be getting very emotional about this post. I am not attacking you. I disagree with you. People are allowed to disagree. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you're wrong. Maybe we are both wrong.

In my opinion, the entire field of behavioral economics has proven that Skinner's beliefs about human behavior were oversimplified.

Robert Cialdini's work alone has proven that you need real world, not lab world, testing to prove things.

I recommend that you check out Cialdini's work and the work of Daniel Kahneman to better understand human behavior.

You are right, logic can affect emotions. But, more often than not, emotions affect behavior. It's called the Affect Heuristic. Affect heuristic - Wikipedia

Just listen to anyone into politics (on either side) and you'll see clearly that emotions can affect logic.
 
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ChrisV

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In my opinion, the entire field of behavioral economics has proven that Skinner's beliefs about human behavior were oversimplified.
They are oversimplified. For example intrinsic and extrinsic rewards:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc


But even intrinsic rewards rely on internal carrots and sticks. All our behavior is motivated by different neurochemicals, that provide pleasure or pain. So for instance morality. There’s nothing external motivating that, but we’ve evolved so that hurting people feels bad, and helping people feels good. So while there may be nothing ‘out there’ motivating behavior, those actions create a surge in different pleasure or stress hormones that make it feel good or bad.

And I’ve read a lot of Cialdini and Kahneman. Its good stuff.
 
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ChrisV

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Oh yea, I came back to this thread for a reason before I got distracted replying. Another technique I have that’s in line with this is... Write a little note of exactly what your life will be like when you accomplish whatever you want to accomplish.

Get all the details. The things you’ll do with your time. What you’ll buy. What your day-to-day will be like. What you’ll eat. What you’ll drink. What you’ll drive. What furniture you’ll have.

I find that it’s important to keep these rewards salient. You really have to remind yourself what you’re working toward. I think a lot of times it’s the little things that make a difference more than the cars or houses.

Even though these are words, they’ll invoke an emotion. Another example of how words and emotions are intertwined. They’ll remind you of the light at the end of the tunnel. They’ll keep you remembering why you’re doing what you do. Then you can connect your actions with those rewards.
 

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@ChrisV I think you and I disagree because we have different beliefs.

I believe ACT (an offshoot of CBT) is more effective than CBT. No need to debate them. It's like debating Christianity and Judaism.

I love the book Drive. It's the book that actually got me off of the Skinner bandwagon.

I totally believe in carrots and sticks. But, in your article, you seem to imply that a person should somehow convince themselves that a stick is really a carrot. And, you seem to imply that that can be done with a pros and cons list. And I just disagree with that.

I know fat doctors. I know lung doctors that smoke. I know cancer doctors that smoke. I know doctors that have unprotected sex with prostitutes. I know doctors that drive motorcycles at high speeds on city highways. I've heard of many religious and pious people who fornicate.

They all know the pros and cons of their behavior. A pros and cons list is unlikely to get them to change their behavior. They impulsively and subconsciosly believe that today's carrot is more important than tomorrow's stick.

Trying to change or remove their trigger is more likely to work OR
Trying to address the underlying emotions OR
Trying to add an immediate stick. A stick that's bigger than the immediate carrot.

You're obviously an intelligent person. We just have different opinions. Lets agree to disagree.
 
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ChrisV

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I totally believe in carrots and sticks. But, in your article, you seem to imply that a person should somehow convince themselves that a stick is really a carrot. And, you seem to imply that that can be done with a pros and cons list. And I just disagree with that.
And there’s no several methods both won’t work, or a combination of the two.

I’d say it’s more like: within almost every every action is a carrot and a stick. But by focusing on the stick and ignoring the carrot, you refuse to take action. The trick with this is to magnify the carrot and minimize the stick.

Think of your friend trying to convince you to get sushi (or whatever).. he’s like “come on ude.. think about that delicious, awesome california roll” and all of a sudden it’s more salient.. and you’re like “okay, screw it.. lets get sushi. Nothing about the objective situation has changed, just your perception. It’s still the same sushi it was 10 minutes ago. Only thing that’s changes is your focus. Same with advertising. Same product buy depending on how it’s presented, likelihood of purchase changes.

The Pros/cons list is the simplest of perception techniques and again, there are more advanced techniques.
They impulsively and subconsciosly believe that today's carrot is more important than tomorrow's stick.
Which is exactly why that association needs to be changed.


The ideas behind this article is core to my technique:

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.05.40 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.06.14 PM.png
Want to stop smoking?... By the time you finish this article, you'll be ready to stub your habit | Daily Mail Online

For instance in his book, the reason he kept smoking? He associated it with being a rebel. He liked the idea of being the naughty, rebellious doctor (carrot.) Once he broke that association, there’s no reason to smoke any longer. He could have reprogrammed “Smoking makes me a rebellious cool doctor,” (carrot) with “smoking makes me a smelly bum.” (stick).... there’s a lot of leeway and subjectivity in rewards and punishments. The trick is to use that to your advantage.

This is exactly how Allen Carr’s Eastway to Quit Smoking book works too. It takes all the smokes “Pros” of smoking, and shows the reader why they’re bull.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.10.29 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.10.40 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.10.45 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.11.39 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.11.45 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 3.12.00 PM.png

Without any of those mental “pros” the problem literally disappears effortlessly. That’s exactly what happened to me. I smoked for 10+ years, read the book, and i just lost any desire to smoke.

Same thing with anything else. He has Easyway to Quit Smoking, Easyway to quit drinking, Easyway to quit gambling. They all work. I read all those books and just reverse engineered the technique. It just so happens that CBT uses similar techniques.
 
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I'm completely against animal cruelty, that was enough for me to disregard the rest of this post.
 
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They impulsively and subconsciosly believe that today's carrot is more important than tomorrow's stick.
And this is also true. There’s a concept in psychology that’s considered one of the absolute best predictors of success. It’s called Delay Discounting.

Delay Discounting: I'm a k, You're a k

“...it is a tendency to give greater value to rewards as they move away from their temporal horizons and towards the “now”"
Okay, quick summary of the Marshmallow test. Kids are put in a room with a marshmallow. If they don’t eat it for 10 minutes, they get two. Some eat it, some don’t. 1 reward now, or two rewards later. Cool. Whatever. But when we find these 20 years later kids later this is what we find.

They do better in every category. More money, better health, better education, better marriages.

In follow-up studies, Mischel found unexpected correlations between the results of the marshmallow test and the success of the children many years later.[5] The first follow-up study, in 1988, showed that "preschool children who delayed gratification longer in the self-imposed delay paradigm, were described more than 10 years later by their parents as adolescents who were significantly more competent."[citation needed]

A second follow-up study, in 1990, showed that the ability to delay gratification also correlated with higher SAT scores.[5]

A 2006 paper to which Mischel contributed reports a similar experiment, this time relating ability to delay in order to receive a cookie (at age 4) and reaction time on a go/no go task.[8]

A 2011 brain imaging study of a sample from the original Stanford participants when they reached mid-life showed key differences between those with high delay times and those with low delay times in two areas: the prefrontal cortex (more active in high delayers) and the ventral striatum, (more active in low delayers) when they were trying to control their responses to alluring temptations.[9][10]
Stanford marshmallow experiment - Wikipedia

This is really good:

Temporal motivation theory - Wikipedia
 
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@ChrisV
I totally believe in carrots and sticks. But, in your article, you seem to imply that a person should somehow convince themselves that a stick is really a carrot. And, you seem to imply that that can be done with a pros and cons list. And I just disagree with that.
What you're missing here is you're not "convincing" yourself a stick is a carrot but rather your thought process of how you perceive said action.

You certainly can change your perspective on actions and I also agree that is the key to changing yourself for the better as a whole, not just with habits.

How you view stressful tasks (traffic), your girlfriend/wife, exercise, TV, everything. Different perceptions are what separate us as human beings. It is very possible to change your perception with practice. How you think about something, the way you see someone, can be changed. Meditation helps with this. It is your thoughts after all.

I've read all the books mentioned but they are worthless if you don't get something practical out of it. The fact is the same techniques, even if acted on, will not work for everyone. There's no one size fits all.

What I have recently started doing is put up a large white board calendar. If I write something on the calendar I do it. I have no specific time except for that day. If it goes on the board, it gets done no matter what. Starting out I only put 1 or 2 tasks on the board and make sure I stick to it 100% then cross it out at the end of the day. If I don't cross it out I know I would feel horrible.

It hasn't happened yet. So it's working. As time goes on I may add more and further out. At the moment it's only 1 day in advance.
 
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What I have recently started doing is put up a large white board calendar. If I write something on the calendar I do it. I have no specific time except for that day. If it goes on the board, it gets done no matter what. Starting out I only put 1 or 2 tasks on the board and make sure I stick to it 100% then cross it out at the end of the day. If I don't cross it out I know I would feel horrible.
There was an awesome app I used to use called Momentum, which was built upon the same method. Loved it.

Momentum_1000.jpg

Also, here’s similar advice from Jerry Seinfeld:

dont-break-the-chain-article.jpg

Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime...

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don't feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here's how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to no


https://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret
 

StevieB

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I've tried using the apps but for me they aren't as effective as large calendar placed were everyone can see it. Actually crossing out the activity is rewarding than clicking an app (I work in IT so I click all day long), and I'd imagine if I didn't it would be painful.

One example of changing my perception on something is TV. I used to watch a lot of TV for years, but back in 2005 I thought why am I wasting my life like this? With that, TV became a complete waste of time. I didn't "trick" myself into anything, I simply started thinking about the activity a different way. Instead of "entertainment" it became "a waste of time". Since then I've all but completely stopped watching TV which very few exceptions such as if I'm on a Cruise ship about to go to sleep. Just by simply changing how I perceived the activity.

This is one small example but you can apply the concept to almost anything. How you think about something effects your actions upon it.
 
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One example of changing my perception on something is TV. I used to watch a lot of TV for years, but back in 2005 I thought why am I wasting my life like this? With that, TV became a complete waste of time. I didn't "trick" myself into anything, I simply started thinking about the activity a different way. Instead of "entertainment" it became "a waste of time". Since then I've all but completely stopped watching TV which very few exceptions such as if I'm on a Cruise ship about to go to sleep. Just by simply changing how I perceived the activity.
Yes, that’s a great example. Previous view: “I’m watching all these entertaining shows” new view: “I’m literally sitting here staring at a box laughing at dancing colored dots that when viewed from a certain angle resemble genuinely me human interaction.”

That’s the type of change in perception that can make something previously rewarding into shit.


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@StevieB Everything you stated in your posts is a 'What you need to do'. But, what people need for behavior change is 'How you do it?'.

You and @ChrisV are right. If you change your perception then you can change your behavior. But, HOW do you change your perception?

"It is very possible to change your perception with practice." But, HOW do you make yourself practice?

"Meditation helps with this." But, HOW do you make yourself meditate?

"What I have recently started doing is put up a large white board calendar." But, HOW do you make yourself buy the calendar and put the calendar up?

"I used to watch a lot of TV for years, but back in 2005 I thought why am I wasting my life like this?" But, HOW do you make yourself change your thoughts?

"Just by simply changing how I perceived the activity." But, HOW do you make yourself change your perception?

Your HOW will likely be "Just do it!".

I love Jocko Willink and he has a whole book about this called 'Discipline Equals Freedom' But, the premise of the book is ridiculous. If you want to be free, be disciplined.

How do you become disciplined? Just be disciplined. Just do it!

But, that's not how they change behavior in the military. They give you a list of behaviors.

They give you a big carrot. You're doing this for your country, your community, your fellow soldiers, and yourself.

If you behave incorrectly, they hit you with a stick. Keep messing up, they hit you with a bigger stick. Keep messing up, they hit your friends with sticks.

Another thing they do is isolate you from people you aren't doing the same thing.

Basic training essentially changes your perceptions and thoughts through forced actions and environment change.

"Think and Grow Rich" and "PsychoCybernetics" and "As a Man Thinketh" and "The Science of Getting Rich" all popularized the idea of changing perceptions in order to change behavior. And those books are still best sellers. But, none of them explain how to change perceptions. They just tell you to change them.

There's no way to change perceptions without changing actions first.

This involves:
  • Eliminating as many obstacles in the way of the desired behavior
  • Placing as many obstacles in the way of the undesired behavior
  • Creating carrots for the desired behavior
  • Creating sticks for the undesired behavior
  • Having some form of accountability in place
Old paradigm: Change perceptions/thoughts/beliefs => Change behavior

New paradigm: Change environment => Change behavior => Change perceptions/thoughts/beliefs => Change behavior even more

Changing your own beliefs and perceptions is the hardest things in the world to do. A close second is changing someone else's beliefs and perceptions.

So, I don't expect you to agree with me on this.

Consider reading:
  • Willpower Doesn't Work by Hardy OR
  • The Motivation Myth by Haden OR
  • Switch by Heath Bros OR
  • Stick With It by Young
 
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They give you a big carrot. You're doing this for your country, your community, your fellow soldiers, and yourself.
They changed their perception ;)

Three’s no physical carrot there. It’s all mental.

Exact point I’m making in the article.
 

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They changed their perception ;)

Three’s no physical carrot there. It’s all mental.

Exact point I’m making in the article.
Their environment changed their perception. That's why basic training doesn't happen on South Beach.
 

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They changed their perception ;)

Three’s no physical carrot there. It’s all mental.

Exact point I’m making in the article.
If your article is correct, I could turn a 18 year old young man into a disciplined soldier with a Pros and Cons list.

*That should have been young person. Sorry ladies.
 
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Their environment changed their perception. That's why basic training doesn't happen on South Beach.
I know, I spent time on Parris Island. And while the words ‘Paris’ and ‘island’ make it sound like a wonderful place, as another posted on this board noted: "Waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay probably sounds amazing if you don't know what either of those things are.”

But I digress. Usually the ‘you’re doing this for your country’ stuff happens before they join, which is part of the reason they do join. But I can just as easily change your perceptions to "war is wrong... come listen to these John Lennon albums real quick” which can change their perceptions in another direction.

Listen this Medium post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide to attitude change. I can honestly write a volumes on this topic.

“How” to change perceptions, you can study all day. Advertising is a great place to start.

"Think and Grow Rich" and "PsychoCybernetics" and "As a Man Thinketh" and "The Science of Getting Rich" all popularized the idea of changing perceptions in order to change behavior. And those books are still best sellers. But, none of them explain how to change perceptions. They just tell you to change them.
Those books, imo, are nonsensical pop-psychology dog poo.


Listen, there are tons of ways to change behavior. Google successfully got people to eat healthier by putting healthy foods at eye level and the cola machines in the back. Now it takes more effort and energy (cost) to get a Coke. But it all boils down to one thing... change the cost benefit ratio to any given action. And adding psychological costs, like I noted in my original article, does work. I’ve planted the seed, now it may be up to you to find additional information. Or I may write follow up posts better detailing the hows. I don’t know yet.
 

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