A Fascinating yet Creepy Read about Psychopaths

I just had a riveting read of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson.

Jon is an engaging author and he shares as he foolhardily jumps into the world of Psychopaths. He reports on the historic efforts to cure psychopathic criminals in prison (using LSD). and the tragic results when releasing criminals that are “cured”.

Recognizing psychopaths is not easy and the current state of the art is the Hare PCL-R checklist, twenty characteristics that the patient gets scored on. It includes qualities such as “Grandiose sense of self-worth” and “Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.”

Jon talks to prisoners and psychologists as well as a ruthless ex-CEO whom he grills to determine his psychopath test score. The results were ambiguous. He interacts with the Church of Scientology that has an ax to grind against the psychological profession.

One downside is that this book has you seeing psychopathic behavior in others. There is a belief that the highest levels of companies has a disproportionally high number of psychopaths, maybe 3%. In the general populations it is expected to find 1 in 100 and in prison amongst violent offenders the range is 40-60%. These numbers are approximate because I was using a library book and I could not highlight the interesting bits as I went. Also, there is no index.

I think that Jon could have gone deeper on this topic. We are never introduced to a top executive of government or private industry that is clearly psychopathic. He goes on to other topics of controversy and politics within the industry. It is all interesting as we learn about how disorders are added to the DSM ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Despite the fascinating stories shared in this this book, there are important issues raised. This is includes the rising number of autism cases diagnosed, and the issue of diagnosing bipolar disorder in young children.

All in all it is worth a read.




The Mother Lode of Medical Data

I might be exaggerating in my title here, but this is very good news for everyone*.

As quoted from USA Today “For the first time since the 1970s, the Center for Medicare Services has released Medicare reimbursement information by doctor and procedure, creating a portrait of the average Medicare payment per doctor and how much of the charge was reimbursed in 2012.”

I have talked about medical transparency (see here) and this will be great for researchers. I just listened to this being discussed on NPR and I still need to look things over.

*Of course there is always two sides of the story and there are those that favor continuation of the status quo. I heard that the American Medical Association opposed this because of possibility for misinterpretation. That is true, but I think that my opinion of the AMA was probably not very high, and this news will not cause any movement in the upward direction. (I just noticed that with access to the data I need to agree to an AMA license with regard to the Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) used within the data set.

I am just downloading the provider data for doctors with last name starting with O,P and Q. It looks like a 115MB excel file.  This is so interesting I am tempted to have a web site and blog just around this data release. I think that some people will be kept busy sleuthing through all this data available here.

A thoughtful primer of introversion (part 1 of 3)

As I have read and then reread Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I am struck by the density of good information in it. Susan starts out by tracing the development of the “Culture of Personality” of the preceding “Culture of Character”. The importance of the qualities of Duty, Honor and Integrity were deprecated in favor of the qualities of Attractiveness, Dominance and Energy. Even Lux detergent got into the act of assuring us that by using their product the unpopular Joan could gain a “deep, sure, inner conviction of being charming”.

The Extrovert Ideal took a toll on the introverted among us, and by 1960 one third of prescriptions from U.S. doctors was for anti-anxiety medications, one of which was “FOR THE ANXIETY THAT COMES FROM NOT FITTING IN”. Susan goes on to give us a view into a Tony Robbins event, where participants are taught to be more outgoing. She goes on to share research that the Charismatic leader is not the best choice in all leadership situations.

One of the most useful sections of the book is clearly titled “When Collaboration Kills Creativity”. In the brainstorm picbusiness environment the latest fad is innovation and the workhorse of innovating is still brainstorming. The idea is that synergy abounds when a group gathers to have thoughts that have never been thought before. Despite all the hype the results are less than stellar, one organizational psychologist is quoted that “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups”.  There are a number of explanations for the suboptimal results. One that I have seen is production blocking, where since there can only be one thread of discussion in a group, most people are sitting idly. The best approach is working up ideas independently and then bringing them together. Online brainstorming seems to enjoy the benefits of both approaches.

In the upcoming weeks I will review more about this book.The next installment talks about the deep differences between introverts and extraverts. Find out what squirming babies have to do with it. In the meantime, leave a comment about how whether you see yourself as in introvert or extravert and thanks to those who click through to Amazon.com and buy things. I do appreciate it.

The Importance of Medical Transparency

I read a book by Thomas Friedman about America. That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come BackI recall that some of it had to do with solving the healthcare crisis. He made the case, I believe for medical transparency. I believe that this would be an important step toward taming the steeply increasing cost of healthcare. I think that there are a number of ways that this could be helpful.

First, it could highlight fraud and waste. I read recently about how the hospitals in a given health network were diagnosing a epidemic of Kwashiorkor, a malnutrition condition normally associated with famine in developing countries. Some newspaper, I think, reported on the practice and then just as suddenly the diagnoses stopped. Under medicare, the inclusion of the Kwashiorkor diagnosis doubled (or so) the reimbursement that the hospital was entitled to.

About a year ago, Yahoo had a video of an otherwise spry 70 or 80-year old woman who was having a doctor visit. She passed with flying colors, but the clinic submitted her medical bills, with several ailments that she did not suffer from, like diabetes and high blood pressure. The doctor squirmed when confronted with the hidden video and medical submission paperwork.

Another benefit would be to highlight those individuals that are not being properly served by the healthcare system. Atul Gawande had a column where he talks about a finding where 1 percent of the patients in Camden NJ account for 30% of the cities medical costs. This was not a case of fraud (mostly) but was simply where individuals were inefficiently being served by the system. It might be someone that cannot afford their meds, so they stop taking them, and then have multiple emergency room visits to stabilize their health. Or the specific treatment is not right for their condition. Intervention by social workers led to reduced cost in the long run, even though some medical professionals fought against the efforts.

Their are some very high obstacles to medical transparency, first of which is medical privacy. People are of course very concerned about how their data will be used. Also, there is push back from those who are on the receiving end of medical payments. I looked at bills in congress that address transparency, and saw that most if not all never made it out of committee. I am sure that there will be the same posturing about medical transparency as there will be about other laws that affect someone’s bottom line. What do you think?

The First 20 Minutes, a great book about better health.

The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds is a very enjoyable read. She writes the “Phys Ed” column for the New York Times, so this book is very conversational and easy to follow. She makes that point that commonly accepted beliefs about health issues, such as the practice of applying ice after a hard workout. Recent studies have demonstration that icing and even massage provides no significant reduction in soreness.

Some news is very encouraging. Just 20 minutes of intense exercise will give us our maximum physical benefits. There are some cases where only 6 minutes are needed. The greatest benefits are gained by those who do no exercise at all an then begin exercising. This seems to agree with a post by Nilofer Merchant  in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. She claims sitting is the smoking of our generation.Sitting down for a significant portion of the day can negate the benefits derived from some exercise.

Some results are surprising, such as that chocolate milk is better that Gatorade for sports recovery. I highly recommend this book.
The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer

Fascinating book about World of Magic

Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mindby Alex Stone was a very enjoyable read.  I found it similar to Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everythingby Joshua Foer. Surprisingly, later in the book I read that Alex had consulted with Joshua about memorization techniques that played a part in a trick that Alex was developing. Both books are authored by freelance journalists that are writing about their journey through the personalities and techniques of rich worlds unknown to most people. (Maybe calling Alex a journalist is not accurate, but he has written for a number of periodicals. He is also (or was also) a Physics PhD student, and of course a Magician)

At first I thought that this book would reveal magic secrets behind the various magical professionals mentioned in the subtitle, but he only shares the techniques behind two of his own tricks. This book is more about the craft and history of magic.

He starts out describing how he got more and more involved in the magic community. Early in the book he made his way to the exclusive Magic Olympics where he failed miserably. He gave magic up after that for several months, but then started back, learning the discipline of Magic as an apprentice, instead of superficially learning the tricks of the trade.Magician_scratch

It was revealing how he first met Wesley “Wes” James, a gruff magic veteran and patriarch who held court in the dining room of a pizza joint. Alex brought with him a copy of S. W. Erdnase’s “The Expert at the Card Table”, a card cheater’s bible, hoping to impress Wes. Despite Alex’s naivete, Wes was willing to mentor him.

Alex shows his own shortcomings throughout the book. For example, he foolhardily attempts to make the acquaintance of some  “Three Card Monte” card sharks in a rough New York neighborhood. He writes an article in Harpers that reveals not only one of his tricks, but also that of a trick each of two of his fellow competitors at the Magic Olympics. His admits that his was an ill-advised attempt at raising respect for the field of magic by opening up a view into the craft of Magic. He was duly sorry for the attempt and we see his agony and distress when the Society of American Magicians asked for his resignation. (I will let you read to find out how that worked out)

Alex is torn as he becomes less connected to his graduate studies and more enmeshed in in the craft and science of Magic, and its history.

In his book he covers the gamut from Mentalists to Con Artists. It is fascinating reading, though I was not so impressed by his classifying religious figures such as Jesus Christ as practitioners of magic.

Alex shows some misgivings when he dabbled in the more disreputable side of Magic. He  manipulates the deck during a friendly poker game just to see if he could get away with it. It was not strictly cheating because his actions did not specifically benefit anyone. He just dealt from the bottom or middle of the deck amongst other sleights. He was even more troubled by his experience of performing mind reading tricks. People were so easily swayed by the tricks and even when told how he managed to guess personal knowledge, still thought that something of the occult was going on.

Alex reviews how human nature has a lot of mental biases that affect everything we do. As an example, clinical drug studies need to be specially designed to sidestep human limitations.

I gained new respect for the craft of magic because it becomes obvious just how talented and devoted these Magicians are. Such as Richard Turner who, though almost completely blind can astound even seasoned magicians with his card handing skills. Richard estimates that he has shuffled decks of cards in the tens of millions of times. He even has a special blank all-white deck that his wife lets him shuffle while sitting in church.

This book also relates to another that I am currently reading. “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How”.The repeated exact practicing that the magicians perform is the same concept that we need to follow to raise our skills to a new level.

We follow Alex as he bulks up for a International Brotherhood of Magic (IBM) competition, even following the exercise regimen of “Finger Fitness: the Art of Finger Control”. This time he does not return humiliated.

If you have read Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind please let me know what you thought. An thanks to all that use my Affiliate Amazon Link for your shopping pleasure.


5 steps to better sleep and review of “Dreamland” by David K. Randall

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleepby David K. Randall is another in the recent stream of accessable science reporting by  journalists, like books by Malcolm Gladwell and Charles Duhigg.

This probe into the science of sleep is for Randall a personal quest to understand his own sporadic sleepwalking. From it we learn that to get better sleep we should:

  1. Avoid coffee and alcohol around bedtime
  2. Take advantage of the circadian rhythms by getting natural light during the day and lower lights and avoid artificial lights around bedtime
  3. Avoid non-sleeping activities in the bedroom
  4. Take a cool shower, since, in falling asleep, the body temperature drops and the hands and feet get hotter as they give off heat, it can be helpful to cool down.
  5. Exercise,which improves sleep, though some of the effects are more mental than physical.

We learn much more from this fascinating read which I review here. We learn that the advent of the light bulb significantly changed our sleep rhythms. Pre-Edison writings show that people would commonly awake once during the night and would engage in sundry activities before returning to sleep until morning. A study decades ago showed that when isolated from artificial light subjects return to a pattern of first and second sleeps. I have found personally when I get to bed early I will more likely awake in the middle of the night. I am less stressed to know that this is natural and not the sinister sign of insomnia.

Some sleep experts are puzzled as to why people would choose to share a bed with a spouse when it can mean a worse sleep for both of them. Further work confirmed that despite that, the benefits for some of bonding and security take precedence over comfort.

A chapter on dreams is interesting as it follows the theory of dreams from Freud with its pervasively sexual interpretations to modern researchers that ascribe less mysterious motives to our dreams. Many find them to be no more than the nocturnal counterpart to the daydreams that occupy our blank mind. Dreams could be understood by experts as being the brain reviewing and making sense of the previous waking hours. Where dreams are unusual or strange, they still are borrowing information that is present, around us in our daily lives.

A symptom of PTSD is recurring nightmares. One researcher found that some were helpful to take the recurring disturbing images and purposely choose replacement images that they would think about as they fell asleep.

I find the chapter about dreams as a source of source for ideas and breakthroughs to be more interesting. There are examples as diverse as Paul McCartney and Stephanie Meyers (of twilight fame). One theory was that the creative insights were the byproduct of memory housekeeping that occurs while we are in the REM sleep state.

Across the board, sleep helps us learn and solve problems. When we cannot get a full night’s sleep, a nap can provide an improvement in cognitive performance. Some businesses have installed designated napping areas in their offices.

Randall reports that lack of sleep has tragic effects in the military where friendly fire incidents are associated with lack of sleep and battle fatigue. Most military personnel rely on caffeinated drinks,enhanced coffee or even stimulants in pill form to stay alert. Many studies and experiments have tried to overcome man’s need for sleep. The bottom line was that only sleep can reliably overcome the lack thereof.

The chapter on sleep-walking, -driving and even -killing is fascinating. It is sad to think of those who, like the author who are victims of this condition, interesting how the has grappled with deciding how we treat crimes committed during sleep.

A chapter on sleep apnea, where a blocking of the airway routinely during sleep discusses the invention of the CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machine that uses a pressurized face mask to keep the airways of apnea sufferers open as they get much needed sleep.

Insomnia is common. It is challenging, because though sleep is so beneficial for us, concentrating on getting to sleep makes it more elusive. Insomnia might be a cause of depression, not a result. Sleeping pills came in to fix this problem, but they showed a long list of side effects, including loss of memory and sometimes death by accidental overdose. Sleep aids are a big market with about one in four Americans having prescription sleeping pills in their medicine cabinet. Ironically some studies have shown that some products do not offer significant improvement in sleep quality and only a tiny improvement in quantity. Some sleep drugs make it harder to remember tossing and turning during the night. One, Ambien can lead to waking behavior that is embarrassing and vaguely remembered.

Studies showed that changing behaviors, not taking sleep pills are best for long term sleep quality. Though age is a factor in reduction in sleep quality, because REM sleep begins to decline after age 40.

Sleep inertia is the quality of fuzzy headed-ness that we have when we are awaken from sleep. It is a real curse to pilots that doe on long flights and then need to make crucial decisions after awakening abruptly. maybe this is the reason that I cannot feel awake after trying to take a Sunday afternoon nap. Student trying to avoid disrupting sleep at the wrong moment designed a system to track sleep stages (I believe there is now a Iphone app for this). It became a product that gives each sleep session a score from 0 to 120. Using the numbers allows people to do experiments to optimize sleep

Science has found that sleep depends on two things, first, getting the mind to calm down and second becoming comfortable enough that that physical issues are not obstacles

Finally, there is no perfect mattress, each seems to prefer whatever they are used to. An expensive mattress might feel vastly more comfortable, but it will not translate to a significantly better sleep.

Thanks to all for their support of my blog by visiting and buying anything via my link to Amazon!

An Important Read about Poverty in America

This was a change for me to read The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, but with the recent talk about the divide between the rich and the poor, I wanted to see what this book had to say. Though I do not agree with everything that the authors put forth, there was a lot that challenged assumptions that I have made and views that I have held.

Poverty Tour

They share the stories they heard when their Poverty Tour went on the road and visited communities across the U.S. The stories they found were heart rendering. Many were examples of people that were what they felt was a comfortable middle class life, and then health problems, or the Great Recession caused to be dropped down into poverty.

They go over the history of the last few decades of treatment of poverty in the political arena. The poor seemed to become more and more marginalized. I was reminded that it is common now to look at the poor as being in a state of sin or maybe immorality.

This is a pretty quick read, and gives one much to think about. I was surprised that President Reagan is not held in high esteem by everyone. Likewise, the welfare to work programs instituted by President Clinton were not considered a good thing, in that the authors felt that some poor were pushed unprepared into the workforce.


There is a significant amount of reference to Greed. This sort of discussion is rare amongst  the Conservatives or Libertarians that I listen to occasionally. I guess that the Free market point of view is that the Market will properly channel Greed into growth, efficiency and innovation, which will generally improve our lives. I think that government regulation seeks to counteract rampant greed by legislating against monopolies or creating consumer protection laws.

Of the things that I do not agree with in the book, is the general theme that the widening gap between the rich and the poor is dangerous because of the possibility that there will be a class war, or at least a considerable destabilizing influence on our democracy. The authors, or at least one of them seems to be on the side of the occupy Wall Street participants, or the group that advocated the homeless squatting in houses that were vacated because of foreclosure. I suppose that it is just the concept of civil disobedience that I disagree with in these cases.

The authors state: “This manifesto is founded on the fundamental conviction that there must be a renaissance of compassion in America: There can be no genuine compassion without a resurrection of an explosively radical movement of righteous indignation directed at eradicating poverty.”

I think that some assumed that the market economy is what it is, and people should learn to thrive by their own talents and efforts. It seems important to consider that an unfettered market that can lead to extremes of wealth, it will naturally lead to extremes of poverty.

I would consider signs of unhealthy greed being the one case where Wall Street banks facilitated the creation and selling of securities that were doomed to fail, and yet sold them whole-heartedly  to unsuspected buyers.

The other area where I think that regulation has caused unforeseen effects is how it is better for banks to evict owners of foreclosed properties and leave them empty, (supposedly being better off taking the loss) rather than working to help someone stay in their home.

Common Myths about Poverty

The book shares the following 10 Myths about poverty, a few of which I probably ignorantly believed.

  1. Poverty is a character flaw.
  2. America’s manufacturing is going to bounce back.
  3. The Great Recession has ended.
  4. Minorities receive the majority of government entitlements.
  5. No one goes hungry in America.
  6. America takes care of its veterans.
  7. Government handouts created the nation’s deficit.
  8. America’s wealthiest pay more in taxes because they earn more.
  9. Medicaid takes care of our senior’s health care needs.
  10. Poverty does not exist in the suburbs.

I think that the biggest benefits of The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto is that it reminds us that despite the political rhetoric, there are many that are below the poverty line that really want to better their lives. I believe that many were propelled into poverty by the recession caused by poor policies and corporate misdeeds.

I highly recommend this book where the authors strongly encourage us to treat the poor compassionately and to spend as much creative effort to find innovative solutions to poverty as we do to create the next gizmo or blockbuster entertainment.

Have you read this book, or listened to the radio program of the authors? Let me know! And thanks that use my links to Amazon.com. Your purchases there help support my blog.


Gaming as a path to longer life?

I recently listened to a TED talk by Jane McGonigal entitled “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life”.  She is also the author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. In her TED talk she talks about all the benefits of playing games. I cannot do justice to the wealth of information in her talk, but I she does make the case that not all the time spent playing games is time we will regret not having done other things. She quotes the research out of BYU that shows that parents that play video games with their kids have better real relationships with them.

She shares how creating a game around her recovery from a severe head trauma helped her get through that challenge.

I really have mixed feelings about this topic. I really do like playing video and computer games (once I have moved up the learning curve a bit). I do find that it is easy for me to spend lots of time playing, like when Lode Runner came out on Macintosh (sp?) when I was in college, and I played all through the night. Even a few years ago, I would spend so long playing Civilization on the PC that my neck would freeze up in the position that I was holding it. My kids like when I play video games with them, but I need to considered it time with them, otherwise it seem like a wasteful luxury.

A closely related topic, is gamification, where you add game elements to traditionally non-game activities, like business processes at work.  I just read an article about the benefits of gamification in the enterprise. It talked about things such as leader boards and badges, and I was pretty confused, but then I thought about Amazon.com and how you can earn “Top 1000 Reviewer” and other “badges” such as that. I do find myself checking to see how I rank in writing reviews on Amazon.com. I have heard that posting rankings can backfire with some people, but it does also bring out the competitive spirit as well. Some parents can be adept at turning chores into games.

I notice now that there are a good number of web sites around the gamification topic, such as http://www.gamification.co/, http://gamifyforthewin.com/, as well as a Course on Gamification that started last month on Coursera.com.

What areas can you think of that could benefit from gamification?


Key to Changing our Habits

From The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, we learn the science behind habits. Habits lead to lasting change. This book goes well with and overlaps just a little bit with Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength which I reviewed a few months back. I will cover it in a few posts because of the volume of great information contained in it.

Duhigg shares that habits are comprised of three components

The Cue is a trigger that tells our brain to go into automatic mode and that tells us which routine to follow. The Routine is the action that occurs and the Reward is the event which helps the brain figure out if this routine is worth remembering. As we go through this cycle, the routine gets reinforced within the basal ganglia in our brains.Soon our conscious mind can go deal with other matters and the routine gets played out without effort.

As a habit gets developed both the cue and the reward create a craving in the brain. Businesses use these cravings to its advantage. Toothpaste adds mint related ingredients, because we associate the tingling feeling with clean teeth.

A series of experiments was performed with Eugene, a man who (because of a viral infection that attacked his brain), could not remember anything more than a few minutes. Through repetition, he learned to pick the “correct” card when shown two cards. He could give no explanation of why he made the particular choice. In fact, he was not even aware that he had sat down choose between two cards many times before.

After discussing individual habits and their formation. Duhigg talks about habits in the organization. In this, probably the best section of the book, we learn about how Paul O’Neill transformed Alcoa. When O’Neill was chosen as CEO of Alcoa, he knew that Alcoa had plenty of problems and he had to change the culture. Many were dismayed when he first met with Wall Street investors, and told them that the Plan was to make Safety the highest priority. Many were dumbstruck, when he responded to questions about financial strategies by reiterating the evacuation plan for the building, and pointing out the emergency exits.

What O’Neill was doing by choosing Safety as his Mantra, was taking advantage of a Keystone Habit. A Keystone habit is one that positively affects other beneficial habits. By emphasizing Safety, O’Neill was doing several things. He was changing the way that management interacted with the laborers. He was making everyone focus on making the plants run more efficiently, because if they are efficient, they are less likely to cause injuries. If someone got hurt in an Alcoa plant, whole procedures kicked in to make sure that issues were resolved. This focus lead Alcoa to become very profitable, and successful. This Keystone habit played a critical role.

Durhigg shares how Keystone habits can help individuals.

  •  ” When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically people who exercised start eating better and being more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change”

I can vouch for the power of Keystone habits. For me, riding my bike to work is a keystone habit. When I do it, It causes me to try to eat healthier, to not drink sodas at work (even though they are free!) and I feel like I am more focused and productive.

  • “Studies have documented that families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence. making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. It’s not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”

There is a lot of other good info in The Power of Habit, which I strongly recommend, and I will write more about in a future blog post.

In the Appendix, Duhigg provides a reader’s guide where he suggests affecting change by  the following steps:

  • Identify the routine

Maybe the routine is grabbing a sugary soda, or losing our temper when talking to a co-worker. We first need to identify the action that is the core of our habit. Particularly if it is one that we are trying to change. Experience has taught us that it is not easy to simply get rid of the action, but better to determine a substitute action. Maybe we need to substitute a few squeezes to a stress ball, instead of saying the words that we will regret.

  • Experiment with rewards

We generally have habits, because they provide us with some reward. We need to see how our new routine provides us with a reward that is desirable enough to draw us to the new action. It might be the same reward associated with our old action. We should get creative here.

  • Isolate the cue

What is the event that causes our habit to kick in? This can be tricky. Our environment is very noisy and distracting so we need to keep a good record or diary to discover recurring patterns.

  • Have a plan

Once you understand your cue, routine and reward you can make a plan to remold your behavior. For example, let’s say that you want to stop playing solitaire when you have deadlines to meet. You realize that you do it because you are tired of typing. It gives you a reward because it is satisfying to win the card game. A plan would be to recognize the Cue of getting tired, and planning at that point to stand up, stretch, and maybe care for the houseplants in the office. Since you like the natural touch, this is rewarding, and is healthier than playing solitaire.

This book also would be good with Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by a host of authors. Thanks to all that have used my affiliate Amazon Links (in the side panel or through any of the book likes). Remember it does not cost you extra but supports my website.

Do you have a good procedure to change habits? Share it with us!