Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Books on Change, I

To get you in the fasting spirit, here's Rabbi Daniel Glatstein

Ah, New Years Resolutions. How they suck. 

Most of us would like to change for the better. But it's so darn hard. So I shall share books I have read recently that I found rather illuminating on the subject. I believe that if we know how our brains and bodies work, we can work with them. 

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg examines the science of habits, how they operate, and how they can be changed. 

He brings a number of examples from businesses to personal addictions (he was not very sympathetic to gamblers and the like), and how bad habits were overcome by altering one minor detail which resulted in a chain reaction. 

Habits work like so: 

1) Cue. 
2) Routine. 
3) Reward. 

To change a habit, one has to pinpoint what the cue is; then the mindless routine can be replaced. REPLACED. Not ignored, not overcome, but REPLACED. (Sur mei'ra v'asei tov. It's not enough to stop a behavior; one must be active in doing better as well.)
I was hoping he would provide a simple cause and effect when it came to, say, overeating (cough cough), but no such luck. I had to figure it out myself. And I did. 

Since most days of the week I arrive home at dinnertime, my routine is usually

1) Walk through door. 
2) Eat. 
3) Be nourished and satisfied. 

However, that cue is the same on Friday afternoons when I come home early, or following Sunday outings, or even applied to siblings' front doors. 

So I consciously attempted to replace the routine: Drink a glass of water. Most of the time I'm thirsty anyway, and I feel that same pleasant nourishment and satisfaction when I get hydrated. 

The whole book is quite fascinating, even though I provided the cheat sheet.

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