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Posts Tagged ‘Change Habits’

Middle-Aged Women Who Were Child Abuse Victims at Increased Risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes

Posted by Sun on July 18, 2012

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2012) — Middle-aged women who report having been physically abused as children are about two times more likely than other women their age to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a larger waistline and poor cholesterol levels, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

These women are diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome which, according to previous research, places them at an increased risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. This link between physical abuse and metabolic syndrome persisted beyond traditional risk factors, suggesting physical abuse is a unique factor in women’s cardiovascular health, according to the study. It is the first study to show that a history of childhood physical abuse is related to the development of metabolic syndrome in women at mid-life, according to the authors. It was published online in the APA journal Health Psychology.

“Our research shows us that childhood abuse can have long-lasting consequences, even decades later, on women’s health and is related to more health problems down the road,” said study co-author Aimee Midei, MS, from the University of Pittsburgh.

Participants in the study were 342 women, 113 black and the remainder white, from the Pittsburgh area. They were between the ages of 42 and 52 when the study began. Each completed a childhood trauma questionnaire that assessed past physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Approximately 34 percent of the participants reported experiencing some type of childhood abuse.

Metabolic syndrome was identified by measuring the women’s waist circumference, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels annually during the seven-year study. Other traditional risk factors for metabolic syndrome were also assessed, such as smoking, physical activity, menopause, alcohol use, depressive symptoms and childhood and adult socioeconomic status. At baseline, 60 women were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and 59 more were identified over the course of the study.

Results showed that physical abuse was strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, even after controlling for ethnicity, age, menopause and other traditional risk factors. Sexual abuse and emotional abuse were unrelated to metabolic syndrome, according to the findings.

The authors further examined individual components of the metabolic syndrome and found that physical abuse was particularly associated with larger waist circumference and fasting glucose, both of which are precursors to Type 2 diabetes. “It’s possible that women with histories of physical abuse engage in unhealthy eating behaviors or have poor stress regulation,” said Midei. “It appears that psychology plays a role in physical health even when we’re talking about traumatic incidents that happened when these women were children.”


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Why Diets Fail

Posted by Sun on May 13, 2012

What is the solution to over-eating and obesity? Nigerians are trying several ways to deal with obesity. Presently, some use over-the-counter aids (appetite depressant, etc.) diets of many kinds, group therapy, punishment and reward techniques, even prayer and fasting. But few have experienced lasting result.

Diet researchers have come to one conclusion: there is no completely successful method of dieting that works for everyone over a sustained period of time. Most adults who lose weight return to their original overweight condition within two years after they stop dieting. That is definitely not success.

I have known dozens of individuals who have struggled with their own methods of diet control. Many have sought trained medical advice and been given all kinds of slimming drugs. But drugs have not solved their weight problem.

Instead, they got hooked, became nervous and have personality changes. Recently, an undergraduate from one of the Nigerian universities called to tell me she is overweight and will really need my help. I asked her few questions and her answers revealed that she had been on a slimming drug and she wanted me to recommend another type of drug that will help her lose weight.

Drugs and other weight-loss techniques often postpone or prevent our finding a permanent solution to diet problems.


When we begin a diet, we usually have something motivating us to lose weight. It may be to:

– look better in a fitted dress

-become more physically attractive

-get a new job

-overcome a health problem

-attract the opposite sex

-become more self confident

All of these reasons are related to what we think, feel and want. They all revolve around our selfish desire.

People who lose weight for these reasons don’t keep it off. In more than 90% of the cases,most people who diet regain the weight they have lost. And many regain more than their original weight.

The problem with this kind of motivation is that it isn’t good enough. Motivation to change must come from a higher and stronger source than ourselves. It must come from within —from our desire to be in line with the will of God for our lives.

The word “diet”comes from the Greek word meaning “manner of living”. Our diets are a way of life. The way we eat and the reason that we diet tells a lot about our general well-being.

I understand that eating nutritiously in this day and age can be a challenge. But whenever possible, shop for lean meats, e.g. cow leg, chicken, fish, eggs (for adults, eat more of the egg whites and less of the egg yolk). Also, combination of beans and corn (like in moinmoin and pap or eko). Simply put: one cup of cooked beans eaten with 1/2 cup pap (made from millet) forms a complete meal

Dairy: use more of fat free milk and yoghurt. As we speak, some people are confused about milk. They ask questions like- Does milk really do the body good? To drink or not to drink? That is the burning question. My take on this is to go on low fat or skimmed milk. Components in the milk include calcium, zinc and Vitamin A. You can limit milk intake to twice a week .

High-carbohydrate: four servings of carbs like ofada rice/brown rice (for white refined, parboiled rice, six table spoonful of rice is adviced per meal. Whole-wheat bread, or high-carbohydrate vegetables are potatoes (white and sweet) yams, corn. A serving is a slice, 1cup of cold or hot pap, rice.

Fats: Two tablespoons a day for health and flavouring. And use oils moderately, especially palm oil. There are also some heart friendly oils, and you can also use small amount of healthy butter for spreads. What matters is the accumulation over the week. If one day is short on fats, you can make it up the next day. If you eat too many fats one day…..oops, accident do happen! Then cut back on them the next day. Fats should only total 20-25 percent of your calories. Check labels and buy foods with 20% fat or lower.

Fruits: One fruit a day is a huge plus. It may not be really easy getting fruits everyday, but you can try. It is good to vary them. Choose the most common fruits in season and enjoy them. Presently, Mango, Watermelon and some other fruits are available; or some other fruits depending on which is best for your system.

Vegetables: One serving is equivalent to 1/2 cup cooked or raw, one cup leafy, salads, soups. Always have one or two vegetables accompanying your lunch and dinner. Toss chopped onions, tomatoes and pepper into low fat (non cholesterol oil). You can eat low-carb vegetables all day long if you want! When you get hungry grab some carrot sticks to crunch on.

Here is a quick vegetable recipe: dice or slice your favourite vegetables and add cooked protein like fish or chicken, salt and pepper. Toss them all into a pot. Simmer mixture for fifteen minute, and enjoy! You can eat with yam, rice, beans etc.

Make fitness a priority. Lifestyle fitness is not difficult or complicated. Simply by getting more active, and moderate eating you are taking a positive step towards a lifetime of health and fit living.

I am medical doctor and hypnotherapist with more than 17 years experience. Feel free to send me email ( to discuss your situation.

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Are You a Facebook Addict?

Posted by Sun on May 10, 2012

ScienceDaily (May 7, 2012) — Are you a social media enthusiast or simply a Facebook addict? Researchers from Norway have developed a new instrument to measure Facebook addiction, the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

“The use of Facebook has increased rapidly. We are dealing with a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media,” Doctor of Psychology Cecilie Schou Andreassen says about the study, which is the first of its kind worldwide.

Andreassen heads the research project “Facebook Addiction” at the University of Bergen (UiB). An article about the results has just been published in the renowned journal Psychological Reports. She has clear views as to why some people develop Facebook dependency.

“It occurs more regularly among younger than older users. We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face,” Andreassen says.

People who are organised and more ambitious tend to be less at risk from Facebook addiction. They will often use social media as an integral part of work and networking.

“Our research also indicates that women are more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, probably due to the social nature of Facebook,” Andreassen says.

According to Andreassen, the research also shows that Facebook addiction was related to extraversion. People with high scores on the new scale further tend to have a somewhat delayed sleep-wake rhythm.

Six warning signs

As Facebook has become as ubiquitous as television in our everyday lives, it is becoming increasingly difficult for many people to know if they are addicted to social media. Andreassen’s study shows that the symptoms of Facebook addiction resemble those of drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and chemical substance addiction.

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale is based on six basic criteria, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very often:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

Andreassen’s study shows that scoring “often” or “always” on at least four of the seven items may suggest that you are addicted to Facebook.

About the Scale

In January 2011, 423 students – 227 women and 196 men – participated in tests for the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. The scale can facilitate treatment research, clinical assessment and can be used for the estimation of Facebook addiction prevalence in the general population worldwide.

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale has been developed at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen in collaboration with the Bergen Clinics Foundation, Norway. The researchers involved are also working with instruments measuring other addictions, such as the recently introduced Bergen Work Addiction Scale.

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The Scroll Marked III

Posted by Sun on April 15, 2012

I will persist until I succeed.
In the Orient young bulls are tested for the fight arena in a certain manner. Each is
brought to the ring and allowed to attack a picador who pricks them with a lance. The
bravery of each bull is then rated with care according to the number of times he
demonstrates his willingness to charge in spite of the sting of the blade. Henceforth
will I recognize that each day I am tested by life in like manner. If I persist, if I
continue to try, if I continue to charge forward, I will succeed.
I will persist until I succeed.
I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I
am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to
talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain,
for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure
is not my destiny.
I will persist until I succeed.
The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not
given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure
I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in
the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.
Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet
another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.
I will persist until I succeed.
Henceforth, I will consider each day’s effort as but one blow of my blade against a
mighty oak. The first blow may cause not a tremor in the wood, nor the second, nor
the third. Each blow, of itself, may be trifling, and seem of no consequence. Yet from
childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it will be with my efforts of today.
I will be liken to the rain drop which washes away the mountain; the ant who devours
a tiger; the star which brightens the earth; the slave who builds a pyramid. I will
build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will
complete any undertaking.
I will persist until I succeed.
I will never consider defeat and I will remove from my vocabulary such words and
phrases as quit, cannot, unable, impossible, out of the question, improbable, failure,
unworkable, hopeless, and retreat; for they are the words of fools. I will avoid
despair but if this disease of the mind should infect me then I will work on in despair.
I will toil and I will endure. I will ignore the obstacles at my feet and keep mine eyes
on the goals above my head, for I know that where dry desert ends, green grass
I will persist until I succeed.
I will remember the ancient law of averages and I will bend it to my good. I will
persist with knowledge that each failure to sell will increase my chance for success at
the next attempt. Each nay I hear will bring me closer to the sound of yea. Each
frown I meet only prepares me for the smile to come. Each misfortune I encounter
will carry in it the seed of tomorrow’s good luck. I must have the night to appreciate
the day. I must fail often to succeed only once.
I will persist until I succeed.
I will try, and try, and try again. Each obstacle I will consider as a mere detour to my
goal and a challenge to my profession. I will persist and develop my skills as the
mariner develops his, by learning to ride out the wrath of each storm.
I will persist until I succeed.
Henceforth, I will learn and apply another secret of those who excel in my work.
When each day is ended, not regarding whether it has been a success or a failure, I
will attempt to achieve one more sale. When my thoughts beckon my tired body
homeward I will resist the temptation to depart. I will try again. I will make one more
attempt to close with victory, and if that fails I will make another. Never will I allow
any day to end with a failure. Thus will I plant the seed of tomorrow’s success and
gain an insurmountable advantage over those who cease their labor at a prescribed
time. When others cease their struggle, then mine will begin, and my harvest will be
I will persist until I succeed.
Nor will I allow yesterday’s success to lull me into today’s complacency, for this is
the great foundation of failure. I will forget the happenings of the day that is gone,
whether they were good or bad, and greet the new sun with confidence that this will
be the best day of my life.
So long as there is breath in me, that long will I persist. For now I know one of the
greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win.
I will persist. I will win.

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The Scroll Marked II

Posted by Sun on April 15, 2012

I will greet this day with love in my heart.
For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Muscle can split a shield and
even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and
until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place. I will
make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.
My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may
disapprove; my face they may reject; and even my bargains may cause them
suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the
coldest clay.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be
born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it
cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the
darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart;
yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they
are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I speak? I will laud mine enemies and they will become friends; I will
encourage my friends and they will become brothers. Always will I dig for reasons to
applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip. When I am tempted to criticize I
will bite my tongue; when I am moved to praise I will shout from the roofs.
Is it not so that birds, the wind, the sea and all nature speaks with the music of praise
for their creator? Cannot I speak with the same music to his children? Henceforth
will I remember this secret and it will change my life.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I act? I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be
admired even though they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion
and hate which they have built round their hearts and in its place will I build bridges
so that my love may enter their souls.
I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me; I will love the failures for they can
teach me. I will love the kings for they are but human; I will love the meek for they
are divine. I will love the rich for they are yet lonely; I will love the poor for they are
so many. I will love the young for the faith they hold; I will love the old for the
wisdom they share. I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness; I will love the
ugly for their souls of peace.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
But how will I react to the actions of others? With love. For just as love is my
weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate
and the spears of anger. Adversity and discouragement will beat against my new
shield and become as the softest of rains. My shield will protect me in the market
place and sustain me when I am alone. It will uplift me in moments of despair yet it
will calm me in time of exultation. It will become stronger and more protective with
use until one day I will cast aside and walk unencumbered among all manners of men
and, when I do, my name will be raised high on the pyramid of life.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I confront each whom I meet? In only one way. In silence and to
myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words
will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips, and echo in my
voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods
when his hearts feels my love?
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And most of all I will love myself. For when I do I will zealously inspect all things
which enter my body, my mind, my soul, and my heart. Never will I overindulge the
requests of my flesh; rather I will cherish my body with cleanliness and moderation.
Never will I allow my mind to be attracted to evil and despair, rather I will uplift it
with the knowledge and wisdom of the ages. Never will I allow my soul to become
complacent and satisfied, rather I will feed it with meditation and prayer. Never will I
allow my heart to become small and bitter, rather I will share it and it will grow and
warm the earth.
I will greet this day with love in my heart. Henceforth will I love all mankind. From
this moment all hate is let from my veins for I have not time to hate, only time to
love. From this moment I take the first step required to become a man among men.
With love I will increase my sales a hundred-fold and become a great salesman. If I
have no other qualities I can succeed with love alone. Without it I will fail though I
possess all the knowledge and skills of the world.
I will greet this day with love, and I will succeed.

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The Scroll Marked I

Posted by Sun on April 15, 2012

Today I begin a new life.
Today I shed my old skin, which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and
the wounds of mediocrity.
Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all.
Today I will pluck grapes of wisdom from the tallest and fullest vines in the
vineyard, for these were planted by the wisest of my profession who have come
before me, generation upon generation.
Today I will savor the taste of grapes from these vines and verily I will swallow the
seed of success buried in each and new life will sprout within me.
The career I have chosen is laden with opportunity yet it is fraught with heartbreak
and despair and the bodies of those who have failed, were they piled one atop
another, would cast its shadow down upon all the pyramids of the earth.
Yet I will not fail, as the others, for in my hands I now hold the charts, which will
guide me through perilous waters to shores, which only yesterday seemed but a
Failure will no longer by my payment for my struggle. Just as nature made no
provision for my body to tolerate pain neither has it made any provision for my life
to suffer failure. Failure, like pain, is alien to my life. In the past I accepted it as I
accepted pain. Now I reject it and I am prepared for wisdom and principles which
will guide me out of the shadows into the sunlight of wealth, position, and happiness
far beyond my most extravagant dreams until even the golden apples in the Garden
of Hesperides will seem no more than my just reward.
Time teaches all things to he who lives forever but I have not the luxury of eternity.
Yet, within my allotted time I must practice the art of patience for nature acts never
in haste. To create the olive, king of all trees, a hundred years is required. An onion
plant is old in nine weeks. I have lived as an onion plant. It has not pleased me. Now
I wouldst become the greatest of olive trees and, in truth, the greatest of salesmen.
And how will this be accomplished? For I have neither the knowledge nor the
experience to achieve greatness and already I have stumbled in ignorance and fallen
into pools of self-pity. The answer is simple. I will commence my journey
unencumbered with either the weight of unnecessary knowledge or the handicap of
meaningless experience. Nature already has supplied me with knowledge and instinct
far greater than any beast in the forest and the value of experience is overrated,
usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly.
In truth, experience teaches thoroughly yet her course of instruction devours men’s
years so the value of her lessons diminishes with the time necessary to acquire her
special wisdom. The end finds it wasted on dead men. Furthermore, experience is
comparable to fashion; an action that proved successful today will be unworkable
and impractical tomorrow.
Only principles endure and these I now possess, for the laws that will lead me to
greatness are contained in the words of these scrolls. What they will teach me is more
to prevent failure than to gain success, for what is success other than a state of mind?
Which two, among a thousand wise men, will define success in the same words; yet
failure is always described in one way. Failure is man’s inability to reach his goals in
life, whatever they may be.
In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have
succeeded lies in the differences of their habits. Good habits are the key to all
success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey,
which precedeth all others is – I will form good habits and become their slave.
As a child I was slave to my impulses; now I am slave to my habits, as are all grown
men. I have surrendered my free will to the years of accumulated habits and the past
deeds of my life have already marked out a path, which threatens to imprison my
future. My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, prejudice, greed, love, fear,
environment, habit, and the worst of these tyrants is habit. Therefore, if I must be a
slave to habit let me be a slave to good habits. My bad habits must be destroyed and
new furrows prepared for good seed.
I will form good habits and become their slave.
And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls, it will be done,
for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and
replace it with one which will bring me closer to success. For it is another of nature’s
laws that only a habit can subdue another habit. So, in order for these written words
to perform their chosen task, I must discipline myself with the first of my new habits,
which is as follows:
I will read each scroll for thirty days in this prescribed manner, before I proceed to
the next scroll.
First, I will read the words in silence when I arise. Then, I will read the words in
silence after I have partaken of my midday meal. Last, I will read the words again
just before I retire at day’s end, and most important, on this occasion I will read the
words aloud.
On the next day I will repeat this procedure, and I will continue in like manner for
thirty days. Then, I will turn to the next scroll and repeat this procedure for another
thirty days. I will continue in this manner until I have lived with each scroll for thirty
days and my reading has become habit.
And what will be accomplished with this habit? Herein lies the hidden secret of all
man’s accomplishments. As I repeat the words daily they will soon become a part of
my active mind, but more important, they will also seep into my other mind, that
mysterious source which never sleeps, which creates my dreams, and often makes me
act in ways I do not comprehend.
As the words of these scrolls are consumed by my mysterious mind I will begin to
awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will
increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every
fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible to be
in this world of strife and sorrow.
Eventually, I will find myself reacting to all situations which confront me as I was
commanded in the scrolls to react, and soon these actions and reactions will become
easy to perform, for any act with practice becomes easy.
Thus a new and good habit is born, for when an act becomes easy through constant
repetition it becomes a pleasure to perform and if it is a pleasure to perform it is
man’s nature to perform it often. When I perform it often it becomes a habit and I
become its slave and since it is a good habit this is my will.
Today I begin a new life.
And I make a solemn oath to myself that nothing will retard my new life’s growth. I
will lose not a day from these readings for that day cannot be retrieved nor can I
substitute another for it. I must not, I will not, break this habit of daily reading from
these scrolls and, in truth, the few moments spent each day on this new habit are but
a small price to pay for the happiness and success that will be mine.
As I read and re-read the words in these scrolls to follow, never will I allow the
brevity of each scroll nor the simplicity of its words to cause me to treat the scroll’s
message lightly. Thousands of grapes are pressed to fill one jar with wine, and the
grapes skin and pulp are tossed to the birds. So it is with these grapes of wisdom
from the ages. Much has been filtered and tossed to the wind. Only the pure truth lies
distilled in the words to come. I will drink as instructed and spill not one drop. And
the seed of success I will swallow.
Today my old skin has become as dust. I will walk tall among men and they will
know me not, for today I am a new man, with a new life.

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Habits, Mindfulness, and Behavioral Change: Interesting Research

Posted by Sun on March 23, 2012

Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, speaks to the San Francisco Habit Design Meet-Up, a group of enthusiasts and professionals interested in behavior change, motivation, healthcare, social media, and technology. This talk was designed to challenge assumptions about whether habit design and gamification are the most effective ways to create lasting change for issues ranging from obesity to addiction.

When people want a change in their life, it’s usually because they experience a problem. They want an aspirin, so to speak, so any effort to change also needs to incorporate a more holistic view of motivation, benefits, costs, habits, patterns, and options for new perspectives. Cognitive science tells us our ROI will be higher by being mindful about the path we want to choose as that allows us to use the part of our brain focused on logic and decision making. Habits come from the part of our brain that is primal and automatic; its core purpose is safety and immediate gratification.
The research is showing that creating positive habits for low effort tasks can produce long term behavioral change (i.e., flossing your teeth). However, long term, more demanding behavioral change like weight loss is more likely if we engage in a conversation with ourselves about the higher order state of being we’d like to see for ourselves: physical health, deeper emotional connections with others, openness to change, etc. This mindfulness elevates your decisions away from your habits, so to speak, allowing you to access compassion and introspection for yourself and your efforts around change. Balancing these higher order aspirations with goals for yourself can be excellent, provided you don’t burn out your long term motivation at the expense of achieving a goal. In other words, pace yourself, don’t freak out if you have a set back, and be curious about what you’re learning as you move down a new path.

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Understanding habits is the key to changing them

Posted by Sun on March 19, 2012


Understanding habits can help people radically transform their lives and companies boost their profits, Charles Duhigg, an award winning investigative reporter with the New York Times, argues in his new book.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business examines daily life within a matrix of oft-overlooked habits that account for more than 40 per cent of the actions people performed daily, according to one study he cites.

That study looked at everything from Procter & Gamble’s marketing of Febreze odour freshener to how a down-and-out chronic smoker retooled her habits and became a fit, successful professional.

“Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not,” Duhigg writes. “They’re habits.”

The key to changing habits? Understanding “the habit loop,” Duhigg says. This three-step process consists of a cue, or trigger (for example, you awake), a routine (you shower), and a reward (you feel clean and alert).

“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making,” he writes.

Understanding this loop, Duhigg says, is what helped legendary adman Claude Hopkins transform Pepsodent toothpaste into “one of the best-known products on Earth” in the first half of the 20th century. Hopkins’s ads in the 1930s exploited “tooth film” – a naturally occurring coating on teeth that everyone gets – as a trigger, with brushing as the routine and a more beautiful smile as the reward. Pepsodent spiced up the reward with citric acid, mint oils and other chemicals to enhance the cool, tingling taste, Duhigg says. Bingo. The power of habit at work.

In a similar vein, some makers of sunscreen products today are trying to provide a tingling sensation to effect a similarly rewarding sensation, he says. Changing the middle part of the loop, the routine, is one key to changing habits. This helps explain the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Duhigg says.

AA addresses triggers for drinking with different routines, such as attending meetings or speaking with a sponsor, while providing similar rewards, such as companionship or relaxation (since intoxication is often the least rewarding part of drinking for alcoholics, he adds).

“Everything we know about habits, from neurologists studying amnesiacs and organizational experts remaking companies, is that any of them can be changed, if you understand how they function,” Duhigg writes. “However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it.”

Some examples in The Power of Habit can seem a bit strained. In a discussion on popular music, Duhigg ties some research showing that our brains are attracted to familiar music, with radio DJs sandwiching new songs between familiar hits. On other occasions, comparing cases like a woman who gambled her life away with a man acquitted for murdering his wife during a “sleep terror,” Duhigg can seem like he’s stretching his points.


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Changing Habits-Your Habits or Your life

Posted by Sun on August 24, 2011

By Tania Kotsos

Changing habits is fundamental to changing your life. Everything you repeatedly do, say and think is as a direct result of your habits. We are all creatures of habit. Habits are those actions or reactions which are on auto-pilot, which you do without consciously having to think about them. The success you enjoy in your life, or the lack thereof, is directly related to the nature of your habits, and they are the product of your beliefs. To enjoy permanent, positive change in your life, you must change your negative beliefs and their associated habits.

Your Life is a Habit: When you examine your daily routine, you will find that most of what you do, say and think on a daily basis is habitual. From the moment you wake up in the morning, your physical and mental routine is already in place and you faithfully follow it with little or no conscious consideration. This applies to all areas of your life. The general state of your relationships reflects your social habits; that of your health and body reflects your eating and exercise habits; that of your bank account reflects your business and money habits and so it goes on. Habits either serve you or they don’t. They either take you toward your intended outcome or away from it. Knowing your beliefs is key to changing habits.

Your Habits are the Product of Your Beliefs: Every single one of your thoughts is coloured by your beliefs. You perceive and experience life in accordance with your beliefs. Your actions and words reflect your beliefs. When you believe a certain thing about yourself or anything or anyone, you act, speak and think accordingly. Ultimately, you are what you believe you are. Know that your habits are the children of your beliefs. You cannot expect to permanently change a negative habit into a positive one if its underlying belief remains negative. To successfully and permanently transform your bad habits into positive ones, you must also change your beliefs. Changing beliefs and changing habits go hand in hand.

The Chicken or the Egg: Once your habits are firmly in place, they serve to reaffirm your beliefs such that it may become difficult to distinguish the parent from the child. This why most people find changing habits so challenging, because they try to establish new habits without dealing with the underlying negative belief and so, more often than not, they find themselves reverting to their old habits. In so doing, they lose weeks and even months of concerted effort and usually become discouraged and quit their attempts to change their negative habits, not realising that the underlying negative belief is the source of their failed attempt.

Why Diets Fail – An Example: This example about the roller-coaster ride of dieting clearly shows why changing habits is a challenge in the face of an underlying limiting belief. The only reason most diets fail is because the dieter has a negative underlying belief” that goes unchecked. If the dieter has a belief such as “I am fat”, then no health or exercise regime will be met with permanent success if that belief remains intact. Sooner or later, he or she will take actions to fulfil that negative belief again. They have to because it is their belief. Ironically, even the decision to go on a diet is a fulfilment of the negative “I am fat” belief, although it appears to be a genuine attempt at losing weight. Remember, slim people need not diet.

Align Your Beliefs with Your Habits: While it cannot be ruled out that persistently changing a habit can ultimately lead to a change in the original underlying belief, trying to create a positive habit in the face of an underlying negative belief takes great amounts of will power and success is not guaranteed. In contrast, once you change the negative belief associated with the negative habit, then changing habits comes far more easily. In other words, creating a new, positive habit requires little or no will power when the underlying belief is working with it rather than against it.

There is No Need to Wait: Even though changing your underlying negative beliefs is important to changing habits, you do not have to wait to change the belief before creating your new, positive habits. Working on the two together is in fact preferable as it speeds up the process. The emphasis here is to change the negative belief, not to wait before changing the habit. Change the two together and success will quickly be yours. Using the example of the dieter, changing his or her underlying belief from “I am fat” to “I am healthy and slim” while at the same time systematically adopting new healthy eating and exercise habits that reflect the new belief, is the surest, if not the only, route to permanent success.

You Were Not Born With Your Habits: Changing habits should not seem such a daunting task when you understand that you were born with a clean habit slate. Both your “good” and “bad” habits were created from the beliefs that you adopted through your interactions with your teachers, peers, parents and society in general. Without consciously choosing your beliefs and hence your habits, you effectively leave yourself and your life in the hands of general social conditioning. There is no need to allocate blame for your habits or your beliefs. In fact, that would only serve to further entrench them. All you need to do is consciously choose those habits that serve you and eliminate those that fail you by changing your beliefs. It is never too late to change.

Habits Inhabit the Subconscious Mind: Everything that you habitually do, say or think today, started off as a single action or thought which was repeated often enough until it was passed down to your subconscious mind where it became a habit. All habits reside at the level of your subconscious mind where you no longer have to consciously think about them. Therefore, changing habits permanent must involve programming and re-programming your unwanted negative beliefs at the subconscious level.

Using Creative Visualization to Changing Habits: The most effective and practical way to consciously access and programme your subconscious mind for success is through creative visualization. It is the fundamental technique underlying reality creation. To put it simply, you can change any negative belief by repeatedly visualizing yourself feeling and experiencing the new positive belief and imagining yourself effortlessly repeating the actions that you want to become your habits and are aligned with that belief. You will soon find that your actions and thoughts in your day-to-day waking life begin to reflect your new beliefs until such time that they too become habitual in nature. Beware that visualizing an intended outcome without first dealing with the negative beliefs that contradict that outcome, is likely to derail your efforts and cause you to attract more of what you do not want through the Laws of Attraction and Polarity.

Your Will Power is Your Guide: When changing habits, you will know to what degree your underlying negative beliefs have been replaced by gauging how much will power you have to use. Any time you find yourself having to use significant amounts of will power to do something positive that you know serves your intended outcome, then there is probably still a major conflict between your actions and an underlying negative belief. Anything you do or say that is aligned with your beliefs, whether “positive” or “negative”, requires no will power and is effortless. This is not to say that some or even great amounts of will power will not be necessary at the beginning of your efforts to change your negative beliefs and adopt new, positive habits. However, will power is the domain of the conscious mind whereas your aim is to transform your actions into habits of the subconscious mind, which is the domain that knows nothing of will power and needs nothing of the sort to carry out its actions.

Habits Are Intended to Serve You: The fact that you can repeat a task often enough until you can perform it without having to consciously think about it, is testament to your mind power. This ability frees up your conscious mind to continuously process and learn new information that serves your success until the associated actions become habitual and so the process can be repeated. Having said this, most people are inadvertently at the service of their beliefs and habits because they never consciously chose them in the first place. Your beliefs are yours to choose and your habits are yours to create. Changing habits is in your hands so resolve now to make your habits serve you and your success. Ultimately, you have the power to create your ideal life.

No words capture the relationship between your beliefs, your habits and your destiny
as precisely as these of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny.”

In a nutshell, we are all creatures of habits so hanging habits is fundamental to creating the success we intend for ourselves. The state of your life is largely a reflection of those actions, words and thoughts which you repeat without any conscious involvement on your part. In other words, your life is a reflection of your habits and your habits are a product of your beliefs. Most people try to change their negative habits with no consideration for the underlying negative belief and so meet with little permanent success. By re-programming your beliefs at the subconscious level, you give yourself the freedom to create new habits that effortlessly add to your success and to eliminate those that don’t.


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How to Establish New Habits the No-Sweat Way

Posted by Sun on August 24, 2011

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen.

Have you ever had problems establishing a new habit? Maybe I should ask, have you ever not had problems establishing a new habit? Whether it’s getting up early, going for a daily run, losing weight, writing a journal – let’s face it: most attempts to establish a new habit end in a dismal flop.

In her book “This year I will…”, Andy Ryan, an expert in collaborative thinking, spells out why change is difficult:

Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain….If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do.

That’s exactly how it is for me. One part of me is gung-ho about making changes, and the other part just turns tail and rushes off in the opposite direction!

Let’s take a look at how we can affect change without giving ourselves a fright. Or do we just have to accept that we are creatures of habit and nothing much will ever change?

In a New York Times article based upon the research by Andy Ryan it says:

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

But don’t bother trying to kill off old habits; once those ruts of procedure are worn into the hippocampus, they’re there to stay. Instead, the new habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass those old roads.

How do we create pathways of change so gently that we don’t take fright?

There is a very interesting Japanese philosophy called Kaizen which can help us do just that. Kaizen focuses on continuous but small change.

In order to find out how Kaizen can help us to establish new habits, let’s take a look at change in terms of momentum. Just imagine for a moment that you are the captain of an ocean liner. If you decided to change course 90 degrees, there would be two different ways to accomplish this. One way would be to stall the ship’s forward momentum and then take up a new course.

Big changes mean that momentum is lost.

The other way to change course would be to use the forward momentum and to incrementally change course until the full 90 degrees are accomplished.

If we change direction little by little, we can use momentum to affect change.

Andy Ryan says:

The small steps in Kaizen don’t set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness.

With a strategy of continuous low-level change, we are able to sidestep the number one barrier to change: fear.

Let’s see how this would work in our daily life. Let’s imagine that you want to get up an hour earlier each morning in order to be more productive.

Strategy No. 1: You grit your teeth, set your clock an hour earlier, and struggle out of bed. This might work for a few days, or for longer if you’re disciplined. But chances are that you’ll be back in your old groove as soon as you begin to feel tired and stressed.

Strategy No. 2: You use the Kaizen method and get up one minute earlier each day. Two months later you would be getting out of bed one hour earlier – without even noticing the change!

You can see by this example what a powerful strategy for change Kaizen is.

The Kaizen method of continuous incremental improvements isn’t just a personal philosophy. It was embraced by industry giants such as Toyota and has enabled them to become world leaders in automotive innovation.

The word that leaps out at me when I read about the principles of Kaizen is ‘continuous’. I don’t know how it is for you, but in my life personal growth happens in bursts – with longish pauses in between.

This is rather like doing a massive run or a superhard yoga class one day—and then letting all exercise slip for the next days because your body feels sore. A few days later you feel the need for a hefty dose of exercise again – and that brings you back to the massive run or the superhard yoga class. And so it goes on and on…

What if we we kept our exercise routine going each day and very gradually increased the length or difficulty of training? What if we used this gentle but powerful way to effect all change in our life?

What’s your sense of how the Kaizen method would work for habits that you want to establish?

Mary Jaksch is a Zen master, psychotherapist, and author. She’s a Karate Black Belt, and loves dancing Argentine tango in skimpy dresses. Visit Mary’s blog, Goodlife Zen.


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Autopilot Achievement: How to Turn Your Goals Into Habits

Posted by Sun on August 24, 2011

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble

It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something we don’t always do. It’s not exceedingly difficult to do, and yet I think it’s something that would make a world of difference in anyone’s life.

Break your goals into habits, and focus on putting those habits into autopilot.

Last week when I wrote my Ultimate Guide to Motivation, there were a number of questions about my belief that having One Goal to focus on is much more powerful than having many goals. There were questions about my personal goals (such as running a marathon, eliminating debt, and so on) and how I was able to achieve them while working on different projects, and so forth. How can you have one goal that takes a long time, and still work on smaller projects at the same time?

These are excellent questions, and my answer takes a little explaining: I try to turn my goals into habits, and in doing so, I put my goals on autopilot. Turning a goal into a habit means really focusing on it, intensely, for at least a month, to the exclusion of all else. The more you can focus on it, the more it’ll be on autopilot.

But once you put it on autopilot, once a habit is firmly established, you don’t really have to focus on it much. You’ll still do it, but because it’s a habit, you only have to use minimal focus to maintain that habit. The goal becomes on autopilot, and you can focus on your next goal or project or habit.

My Marathon Example

Let’s look at my marathon goal as an example. I was just starting out in running, and I had the brilliant idea to run a marathon within a year. (Btw, that’s not the brightest idea — you should run for a couple years before attempting marathon training, or it’ll be much, much more difficult for you.) So that was my goal, and it was my main focus for awhile.

But in order to achieve that goal, I broke it down into two habits:

  1. I had to make running a daily habit (while following a training plan I found online).
  2. I had to report to people in order to have accountability — I did this through family, friends and coworkers, through a blog, and through a column in my local newspaper every two weeks. With this accountability, there’s no way I would stop running.

The daily running habit took about a month to form. I focused on this exclusively for about a month, and didn’t have any other goals, projects or habits that were my main focuses. I did other work projects, but they kinda took a backburner to running.

The accountability habit took a couple months, mainly because I didn’t focus on it too much while I was building the running habit. But it stuck, and for that first year of running, I would report to people I knew and blog about my running every day (this was in Blogger blog that has since been deleted), and I would write a column every two weeks for my local paper.

Once those two habits were firmly entrenched, my marathon goal was pretty much on autopilot. I could focus on my debt reduction goal (as an example) without having to worry too much about the marathon. I still had to do the work, of course, but it didn’t require constant focus.

And eventually, I ran the marathon. I was able to achieve this because, all year long, I had the daily running habit and daily accountability habit. I put my marathon goal into autopilot, and that made it much easier — instead of struggling with it daily for an entire year, I focused on it for one month (well, actually two) and was able to accomplish it while focusing on new habits and goals.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun

Other Applications

This works for many other types of goals, of course. For example:

  • Debt reduction: I turned this goal into a few different habits, including creating a monthly spending plan, learning to stick to the spending plan, and making automatic debt and savings payments. Once these habits were on autopilot, debt elimination was a sure bet.
  • Weight loss: The daily exercise habit was an important first step. Then I got into healthier eating habits, one at a time. Recently I added the habit of tracking my calories, and that’s helped a lot.
  • Writing a book: This was simply setting a time to write, and making myself write during that time, no matter what. Once you have that habit, the book will come.
  • Getting organized: This is three main habits — designating a spot for everything I own, putting things in their designated spots immediately, and doing a daily processing of your inbox(es).

As you can see, just about any goal can be turned into habits if you think it through. Let’s look more into how to do that.

How to Turn A Goal Into Habits

It’s a pretty simple process, but let’s go over it step-by-step:

  1. You goal should be written out very clearly. The better you can visualize your goal, the easier this will be.
  2. Think about the steps needed to get to your goal. There may be many.
  3. Can the goal be accomplished with a series (2-4) of daily or weekly actions? For example, to save money, you will need to make a savings deposit every payday, before you pay your bills. Through that regular action, the goal will eventually be accomplished. Figure this out, and that’s your habit or series of habits.
  4. Figure out the amount of the habit will need to be done to get you to your goal by your timeline. By “amount”, I mean that you have to figure out quantity times frequency to get your desired result. For example, I can run every single day but not be prepared to run a marathon if I don’t do enough miles or long runs. So if I’m going to run every day, I have to also know how far (and any other things such as different workouts on different days). If I’m going to have a savings deposit every week, I need to know how much is necessary for each deposit in order to reach my goal. Figure out this “amount” for your habit and make a schedule.
  5. Focus on the first habit for at least one month, to the exclusion of all else. Don’t worry about the other two habits (for example) while you’re trying to form the first habit. For more on forming habits, this article is good place to start.
  6. If more than one habit is necessary, start on the second habit after a month or so, then on the third, and so on, focusing on one habit at a time until each is firmly ingrained.
  7. After all the necessary habits are ingrained, your goal is on autopilot. You will still need to focus on them somewhat, but to a lesser extent. If any of the habit gets derailed, you’ll have to focus on that habit again for one month.
  8. After you’re on autopilot, you can focus on a new goal and set of habits.

“Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.” – Spanish proverb


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Five Things You Need to Know About Effective Habit Change

Posted by Sun on August 24, 2011

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ian Newby-Clark, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada who studies habit change.

As a psychology professor who has studied habit change for several years, I have some advice about effective habit change. My advice is general. It applies to any habit that you would like to change. My advice is based on my research and that of my colleagues.

1. Work on One Habit at a Time. If you work on changing more than one habit at a time you run a serious risk of overwhelming yourself and changing no habits at all. Consider Jim: Jim has resolved to exercise more and he has resolved to accomplish more at work. What could Jim be thinking? He’s going to fill his already busy schedule with regular exercise. Fine. But, he somehow thinks that he will also get more done at work? I hope he’s also decided to cut down on his sleep …

2. Create a Plan and Write it Down. It is not enough to say to yourself, “I am going to get more done at work.” Think about it this way: What if you asked a randomly selected working-person, “Are you trying to get more done at work?” Almost everybody would say, “Yes, of course.” And the response would be the same if you asked about exercising more often, eating better, or paying more attention to international affairs. It’s in our nature to want to do better. We almost always want to do better. But wanting isn’t enough. You must make a plan. Write it down. Be as specific as possible. Does Jim plan to go into work early or stay late? Will he eat at his desk? Will he exercise good email and phone discipline? Jim needs to create a plan and write it down.

3. Refine Your Plan. Now you need to refine your plan. In particular, you need to be realistic. Put your plan in a drawer for a day or so and come back to it with fresh eyes. Look at each sentence and ask yourself, “Really? I can do that?” Find someone who will give you an honest opinion. Have her read your plan and point out the bits that seem a bit pie-in-the-sky. You must do this because of what years of research shows: People’s plans are far too optimistic. In fact, in one study I showed that people’s ‘realistic’ plans for exercising more often are virtually the same as their ‘best case scenario’ plans. In other words, people think that everything is going to turn out as well as it possibly can. Well, I don’t know what world you live in, but in mine things rarely turn out in the best possible way. So, to avoid disappointment and discouragement, cast a critical eye on your plan and make sure that it is truly realistic. In the case of Jim, he should question the part of his plan that has him going in early and staying late everyday—even on Friday!

4. Make Mini-Plans. You’ve worked on your plan and it is much improved. You’ve taken out all of the bits about you leaping tall buildings in a single bound and cooking a three course meal at the same time. But having a good plan isn’t enough. You have to make mini-plans (research psychologists call them ‘implementation intentions’). For example, Jim plans to go into work an hour early on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. He has also plans to stay late on Wednesday. How, precisely, will he change his work hours? Truly, the devil is in the details.

Jim must mini-plan. For the days that he plans to go in early, he should create a mini-plan the night before. He could tell himself: “When the alarm goes off at five, I will shower, get dressed, drink my breakfast shake, and drive to work.” For Wednesday nights, he could tell himself, “When it’s 5:30, I will eat a quick snack and work for another 2 hours.” Forming a mini-plan seems like such a simple thing. And it is. But, over and over again, researchers (led by Peter Gollwitzer) have shown the power of mini-plans to bridge the gap between wanting to get something done and getting it done.

5. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! You’ve heard this one before too, but it bears, err, repeating. Habits are behaviors that we do over and over again. They become almost automatic. How much thought did you put into your last habitual behavior? Not much, right? It kind of happened just by itself. Now that you have your refined plan and you have your mini-plans, it is time to make your new habit almost automatic. And the only way to do it is by repeating and repeating. And repeating. That’s because psychologists have shown that repeating a behavior over and over again means that it happens automatically or almost automatically. So, the great thing about repeating the behavior is that, eventually, you won’t really have to make yourself repeat it. The new behavior will just kind of happen on its own.

So, there you have it: Five things you need to know about effective habit change. I hope that you find it useful when working on changing a habit. And let’s wish Jim the best of luck too.


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