How can we start on a good habit?
To avoid a bad habit it is advisable to avoid temptation.
To not eat too much chocolate, in fact, just don’t buy it.
But for good habits … how do you do it?
- 1 The willpower
- 2 Why then do we spend our time in activities that make us unhappy?
- 3 How to activate the “activation energy”?
- 4 The environment around us is full of temptations for bad habits, but also incentives for good habits. What we can do is modify our environment in order to facilitate the activation of good habits and eliminate the temptations of bad habits.
- 6 The Vision Board as activation energy.
We work from Monday to Friday waiting for the weekend to finally go to the gym, take a run or a walk or finally immerse ourselves in the books that await us on the bedside table. We could also take a trip to the mountains or go to the soccer game. There is also the new exhibition in the city that we don’t want to lose…
We are longing for the weekend by filling in the list of things we love to do, but on Saturdays we find ourselves with headaches or so exhausted that we do not achieve anything.
If we are forced to do a job that we do not love, we use all, or a large part, of the will-power we have to bring these tasks to completion. It is not surprising then that after 8-10 hours of work, we ran out of willpower and instead of going for a run, taking a walk or all those things we imagined for ourselves in our free time, every effort seems intolerable to us and we end up with the simplest solution: stay on the couch watching TV or with the smartphone in your hand immersed for hours in the social media maze.
I have already spoken of willpower, that precious and limited resource, which is fundamental for establishing and maintaining good habits. We must also consider the strength of will we employ in activities that we do not like to do, but which we are forced to do.
No one forces us to manage our free time in a certain way, if not ourselves, but having run out of fuel, every little activity becomes so demanding that we find ourselves choosing the easiest way, that of laziness, even if long-term it doesn’t make us happy.
In fact, it has been scientifically proven that this type of activity (watching TV or staying on Facebook) is pleasant only for the first 30 minutes, after which they consume our energy and activate sadness, boredom, anxiety, creating what psychologists call “entropy psychic “, or an emotional state in which one cannot effectively use one’s concentration to deal with external tasks, because we need it to re-establish a subjective internal order.
It has also been shown that activities like sports, having hobbies, produce much more energy and happiness.
Why then do we spend our time in activities that make us unhappy?
Because it is the simplest way and because to start all these activities (putting on shoes to go running, taking the subway to see an exhibition, or doing anything to start the business) requires an initial effort that Csikszentmihalyi defines as that spark that activates the action “activation energy”.
In a nutshell when we are tired, we have no energy, we are more likely to engage in more accessible activities (the sofa), but less rewarding (the walk or the exhibition).
The same spark that we need to activate a good habit.
How to activate the “activation energy”?
The environment around us is full of temptations for bad habits, but also incentives for good habits. What we can do is modify our environment in order to facilitate the activation of good habits and eliminate the temptations of bad habits.
Play with “activation energy”: make good behaviors easier and bad behaviors harder
- If we are trying to lose weight, we avoid filling the fridge with foods that we should not eat;
- If we want to drink more water, we always carry a bottle of water with us. Seeing her will remind us to drink.
- If we want to run in the morning when we wake up, we prepare shoes and shorts by the bed, if we want to do yoga, we prepare the mat. In addition to making it easier, it is also a good way to save time;;
- If we want to read more, we leave the phone and TV in another room and put the book (or books) in plain sight ..
The Vision Board as activation energy.
One of my favorite activation energy is the vision board.
When I am without energy and feel drained (the willpower tank is dry) I open my planner and look at my vision board. Every time I look at the images of what I want to accomplish, I tell myself that I can reach my vision: I just have to take a small step, and even when I’m exhausted, I find the strength to do a simple tiny shift.
Usually it is enough to activate a virtuous chain of actions that magically reload me, instead of downloading me.
versione in inglese – The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor