The will is linked to our cognition. It is an emotion that has gone through the process of thought and reasoning. We feel attracted to what our intellect perceives as good. In other words, positive information makes us feel good.
Bad habits are negative behaviours we are inclined to do. In most cases, we are aware of the negative behaviour and its consequences but because we do not get attracted to negative information (consequences), we most time focus our reasoning on any positive news about the habit ( e.g saying smoking helps me think clearly) so we don’t feel too bad or too repelled about it.
Tali Sharot suggested that since positive information makes us feel good, we could educate our intellect on the good that comes with reducing the habit and we could go a step further in convincing our intellect and making ourselves feel good by giving social incentives, immediate rewards and monitoring our progress. I used this method to curb 2 bad habits of mine and 2 of my son’s bad habits which are:
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Poor communication skills
- Refusing to eat vegetables
I was trying to lose weight after I gave birth to my son. I looked into the mirror and see my fat face and big tummy. I know all the rules on how to live a healthy lifestyle and how to redistribute my portions to lose weight. I even know how to eat foods I love to eat 3 times a day and even have snacks with it and still lose weight. I knew all this but couldn’t lose weight because I was hard on myself and kept giving myself the consequences of not living a healthy lifestyle, I thought this will motivate me, and it did motivate me for a while, but then I went back to eating junk. I convinced myself that fat people also look good, they have attractive curves and so on.
I eventually enrolled on a weight loss program where we had a WhatsApp group of ladies who wants to live a healthy lifestyle and then lose some weight. Our coach made sure we wrote down everything that goes into our mouths in detail except water, we also had our weekly weights sent to the coach. This method is what Tali Sharot explained as I got compliments from the group chat every time I post my beautiful plate of a healthy meal, I made sure to follow my meal plan because I want my weight to have reduced by the time I send my weekly weight in and the food journal. All this made it easy for me to lose 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks. The compliment from the group was the social incentive, the immediate return was my reducing weekly weight and the progress monitoring is the journal that showed my weight progress.
I am usually enthusiastic to try new things but I easily get bored and lazy to continue. To deal with this using Tali Sharot’s method, I stopped highlighting the consequences of being lazy which could be a failure and focused on the good of being hardworking.
To get social incentive, I mentioned to my husband the details of the work I put into a project and his smile and comment show that he is proud of me. My immediate reward is the accomplished project and I monitor my progress with a file where I write down my accomplishments.
For my Son
Crying instead of talking.
To use Tali Sharot’s method, I always give him a thumbs up and my attention every time he communicates with words ( rather than cry). His immediate reward was to amicably solve the issue he communicated about with words. His progress is monitored by his continuous improvement in his communication
Refusing to eat vegetables
I highlighted to him the possible positive outcomes of eating vegetables. For his social incentive, he sees my excitement when he eats vegetables, he also gets a star sticker for every time he eats his vegetables, the more he eats, the more star stickers he gets, this will serve as his immediate reward. His vegetable star sticker book is being used to monitor his progress.