Posts Tagged "authenticity"

3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Posted on Dec 19, 2013 | 0 comments

3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Habits are repeated patterns of behaviour that we have become sufficiently familiar with that we pass the job of initiating that behaviour over to the subconscious. Before a habit is undertaken there is a trigger that tells your subconscious to run the habitual behaviour and the habit in turn has a consequence of providing you with a reward, for example avoidance of boredom or stress. We’ll cover a few topics here: Slow Thinking and Fast Thinking systems (just the basics) & how habits fit Why the Slow Project is interested in habits What Slow would recommend for habit hacking Slow Thinking, Fast Thinking & Habits In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, eminent psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thinking: System 1: Fast Thinking – intuitive, subconscious, operates quickly and automatically with little or no effort or sense of voluntary control System 2: Slow Thinking – conscious, rational, requires effort and attention Although Kahneman does not tackle habits directly in this book, the two system framework of understanding our decision making hardware is relevant to habits especially when looking at them through a Slow lens. A few keys points to note are that: We like to think that most of our thinking happens in System 2. This is false. System 1 does the heavy lifting (we are not ‘homo rationalis’). Even when we do use Slow Thinking, the impressions and feelings that are the main sources of explicit beliefs and choices of System 2 originate in System 1. System 2 takes a huge amount of effort to utilise. Think how hard it is to maintain a continuous train of thought. If we can get away with it, we pass on as much work to System 1 as possible. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, that is why so few people engage in it.” Habits are part of our Fast Thinking system. Studies show that self control and deliberate thought draw from the some pool of available effort. Ever noticed that your ability to forego your vices is significantly less after a busy day? “The operations of System 1 are governed by habit so they’re difficult to either modify or control.” You can read a lengthier article by Kahneman on the two systems here. Habits serve an important function because we only have a certain reserve of cognitive energy to use on conscious, deliberate thought. We are wired for habits for the sake of economy of thought, otherwise we would waste time and energy worrying about things that do not matter very much. This makes sense; I’ve got better things to use my limited System 2 thought budget on than re-thinking how and when to brush my teeth. Our brain is interested in paying attention to novelty. Once we have become familiar with something, including our own behaviour, and comforted that it does not pose a risk to us, we relegate it to our Fast Thinking system. Habits can, however, take over areas of our lives that we do not want them to. Why the Slow Project is interested in habits I am passionate about living fully as your authentic self as I discussed here. Habits can prevent us from realising that potential. Instead of experiencing discomfort that comes from change, we follow urges to go with the familiar and a comfort zone is created. However that comfort zone can prevent us from doing our best work and from truly seeing, experiencing and learning (check out this clip on experiencing awe and how comfort zones act a as a barrier). Remember that System 1 is governed by habits...

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Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

“Proximal stability before distal mobility” means that for an organism to create motion at the extremities of its system, it must first have a stable core. I came across this notion as a therapist. As an example, this would be applied when determining and working on hand writing difficulties; often the culprit would be an under-performing core. I’ve been thinking about this saying recently on the individual level in relation to a few of my favourite activities. I fell in love with rock climbing earlier this year. Straight away I was struck by how instructive rock climbing is in regards to change and stressful situations. Climbing is a rhythmic pattern of centre and move, centre and move. You must mentally and physically balance and yourself before executing a move, otherwise fear, distraction or poor balance will literally be your downfall. As a contrasting example, consider coping with change. Feeling stable in yourself reduces feelings of stress when there is a lot of change on the external environment and improves resilience. You can adapt and take advantage of change. Now consider being a changemaker where the ‘mobility’ we’re talking about is being able to act upon the outside world.  Here I consider there three main lessons about proximal stability. Firstly, when you are proposing changes it is vital that other people trust you. People who are authentic, whose behaviours are aligned to who they really are, engender trust. We can sense when what people are saying is incongruent with values they reflect but also I think this sensing of incongruence also occurs even when those doing the talking are not even consciously trying to represent themselves in a false way. People sense authenticity, so don’t just think you mean what you say, know you mean what you say. Seondly, as social creatures, we all to some extent have developed ways to routinely suppress non-conforming behaviours which risk social rejection. This is wise in certain settings but it also means that we can get in the habit of avoiding individual thought without even realising it. I was very impressed by Gretel Killeen at the 2013 Happiness and Its Causes Conference when she spoke about finding and using your authentic voice. She made that point that how can you even speak your mind when you don’t know what is in it? We need to be aware of our tendencies for suppressing authenticity and actively work at cultivating it, starting from discovering who you really are. Lastly, it will sometimes take bravery to be authentic. When advocating something other than status quo, you will find your detractors. This Machiavelli quote sums it up: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” A powerful point Killeen made was, “There are people in the world who struggled in order to speak their minds and paid a huge price for it. We, on the other hand, forfeit our chance to think and speak.” Worth contemplating as we honour Nelson Mandela after his passing. So be brave! There is no other you on this planet, so please, give us your uniqueness and take a risk for what you believe in. Out tendency to conform also goes back to the first point on trust. Why do we not use our voice and instead conform? She says, “…maybe we are just scared of what others think of us if we speak our minds. By presenting a perfect image of ourselves, we hide our true...

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