The Power of Habits

 

The Power of Habits

 

Lesson Info

Affect vs Emotion

All right, feelings now, I wanted this is interesting most of us actually don't understand our feelings particularly well, and and and this isn't just a men thing where we always hear all men don't understand their feelings, women understand their feelings. Actually, most of us don't understand our feelings in the sense that we don't know where they come from, and we don't understand the relationship between the feelings that we have and the emotions that we experience, and it turns out they are not the same thing. We have feelings that are generated from a number of sources psychologists are going to call those feelings affect, okay, within a affect? Um, and so I'm going to use that word affect and when I'm talking about affect, I'm talking about how you feel in a particular situation, and then it turns out that the emotions that you experience are your interpretation of those feelings thie interpretation of that affect, so you actually have to figure out why you're feeling the way yo...

u're feeling, and this is interesting, because as it's going to turn out, we don't always get we don't always guess right about why we're feeling what we're feeling, and this is gonna have a big impact on our ability to get things done, our ability toe to achieve some of these goals that we have. Now the affect that we have the feelings we have have two dimensions to them they have valin ce are they positive or negative and they have arousal strong or weak so I can feel good about something or I can feel bad about it and I can feel either strongly good strongly bad or weekly good and bad okay so you know the that arousal is related to the to the strength of the goal all right, the more energy I have them or arousal I have in the more pumped I can get um or the more depressed I can get or the more disappointed or stressed I could get right that that that's the arousal piece of it okay, so we get strong or weak feelings that are either positive or negative and and they can be caused by lots of different things. Okay, so so these feelings that we have concomitant lots of different sources so for example if I achieve a goal I feel good alright if you finish when you complete a task you feel good or when and also when you feel like you are progressing towards something you feel good so it's not just the completion it's also the progress when you feel like you're making steady progress towards something it feels good when you feel like you're not making progress or when you fail it's something then you feel bad right you try to do something and you know even even silly things like you play a game and you lose right you feel bad you know why you know you've just played a game right but you lose you feel bad you know even even a silly like solitary son don't do this right I don't use you at home leave the solitaire alone but you play a game of solitaire you lose you it's frustrating right? Why you know you were you were here you were blowing off work to feel bad it doesn't make any sense but but failing at a goal feels bad um so that's one source of this affect another source is the speed of your thinking the faster you think the better you feel so if you ever noticed like when you have a really great conversation with it with a friend or a colleague and the ideas are flowing back and forth that it feels good you know that's ah that's because you're thinking fast in order to keep up with that and when you think slowly you actually feel bad. All right? You know if you're if you're having trouble communicating with someone or if you're working on a difficult problem and it's going really slowly it doesn't feel that good this is actually related to the idea that fast music makes you feel good and slow music tends to make you feel bad um, in part because your brain has to keep up with the music. So if you're listening to fast music, it feels good in part because your brain is kind of keeping up with that and when you hear, like, a slow bit of music, you know, and that those dirge like things, it slows you down and it doesn't feel is good um the environment can can influence your feelings so there's a tendency for people to feel better on sunny days and not so good on cold, gray, rainy days. It's I think the reason why there's so much caffeine in seattle, right? Because it's cold and it's gray and it's rainy even in the middle of the summer, apparently I got here too, I guess, but a lot of fun, but, you know, on a sunny day, you know, it's just sunny day makes you, you know, increases that positive feeling that positive affect, um, unexpected rewards can actually create a little bit of of positive feeling. So, um, if you come to work one day and somebody puts just a little candy on your desk, you weren't expecting that it kind of gives you a little jolt how cool is that? And I give you my favorite story about this I actually I've known about this research forever but but I actually experienced this at one point in a way that really drove the point home so about five years ago now I went to I want to see leonard cohen in concert you know let her con it's just awesome and you know and he's getting older now so it's like you know there are very there are fewer opportunities to go see him and uh and I had gotten online to buy tickets you know ten minutes after they went on sale and I got I got tickets in the second to last row of the upper balcony I mean this show's sold out like that you know and so I was just relieved to have gotten tickets inside the theater right um way up in the upper balcony and uh and so I got to the theater about uh about an hour before the show and was really pumped I got all the way up to the upper balcony and and as I got to the door the uh the woman who was taking tickets at the door is like she's got it she got an ear piece and she's like what uh okay great and she she looks at us and she says take the elevator down to the basement and ask for vinnie like really okay so we get in the elevator go down to the basement we step out and this guy named vinny comes up to us and he's and any hands hands us tickets to the tenth row in the orchestra so it turns out that through a computer glitch they had forgotten to sell a row of seats ten rows back from the stage and rather than put them on sale the day of the show they decided to give them to people who were seated way up in the back of the theater and so I got this totally unexpected gift before the show and suddenly I was sitting ten rows back in the center of the theatre for the show and it wass the best concert I have ever gone to in my life now it's very possible it was just the best concert because it was really a great concert right and that was a part of it but another part of it was having gotten this unexpected reward before the show I was already primed to feel amazing and then the concert itself just kept up with that right so I got this little unexpected reward that just made everything better right so that that that's another little jolt of positive energy um in addition to that if you think about positive things if if I said to all of you now reflect on a positive aspect of your life something that really great that happened you like I just thought of this great concert I went to thinking about a positive l aspect of your life makes you feel good and conversely, if I said to you I want you to I want you to think of something really disappointing or depressing that happened to you I could make you all sad don't do that right now um but in fact in psychology experiments if you want to do amy mood manipulation and make people feel good or bad you have them spend ten minutes either thinking about really positive things that have happened to them or really negative things that have happened and you can actually influence your mood in that way you can influence the feelings that you're having okay, so these air all ways of changing whether you you feel positive or negative and and how strongly you feel okay yes just earlier today I was talking about how I'm always listening to like podcasts well, I'm doing anything because I just want information could that be because of the fast thinking like it's forcing me to think maur than if it was just in silence and no my taf yeah so you know it's an interesting thing I mean a lot of us in the modern world we have a lot of trouble with silence and with doing nothing I mean, you know, stand in line at starbucks or a coffee shop and everybody's buried in their cellphones why? Because it's it's more engaging than just standing there and it gets you thinking we have gotten used to being t two things that are helping us to guide our thinking and quicker ways and I think podcasts can have that influence if you're listening to a podcast where you're learning something, it could be really positive I think if you were to listen to ah string of podcasts of npr's storycorps um you probably just walk around with tears in your eyes I don't know if you listen to that show, but it's it's uh I should come with a y warning when you're driving I've I've literally had to pull over several times I'm sitting on the side of the road bawling my eyes out about some some wonderful story that people are told so so I think it does depend on what you've chosen to listen to, but I do think that one of the elements that is something that really gets you thinking can create that positive feeling it is it has that that that, um emotional resonance for you all right now one of the reasons I'm talking about this is because, um, these feelings that you have then turn themselves into emotions at the point where you interpret them at the point where you begin to figure out what is it in the environment that caused this so uhm psychologist talk about this as attribution and what we mean by attribution is that we attribute the feeling to something in the world now often the world is kind and what I mean by kind is not that it's really kind but that it's obvious what the source of your emotion is so for example, if I had woken up this morning in my hotel room and just absent mindedly walked out of the hotel and tried to cross the street without looking and home and then that now imagine like there's a bus barreling down on me and I go ah and I back up you know and now I'm standing by the side of the road going you know, I know I am feeling a combination of fear and relief from almost having been hit by a bus because it's just completely clear what the source of that wass you know and all of us air pumped today to be here and we know it's because we're here it creative live right? So that's we were having this positive feeling we know exactly why that is, but actually the world isn't always kind it creates situations sometimes where we experience a miss attribution of our of our of our affect to an emotion and I'm gonna give you two examples just to help you understand this the very first comes from a study by dutton and aaron back in the sixties and it's the coolest study I mean some some research is just so amazing so the way they did this study was they took advantage of the fact that there were there were these there was a tour through a national park in canada in which in which there was ah the tour went across between two mountains across a valley and the tour and one of two routes that it could take it could either go across this big concrete and steel bridge in which you could look out over the valley get to see this beautiful vista or the tour could go across this kind of rickety chain link and wooden bridge right okay um now you walk across a big concrete steel bridge you see this beautiful view very nice but you don't have any feeling of impending disaster right but you walk across a kind of rickety chain link and wooden bridge you know and you're and you get a little aroused by that you get a little nervous get the butterflies in the stomach you know um now this is what they did the tour that the participants in the study where the men who are on this tour bunch of men on this tour and the tour guide was an attractive young woman okay now uh the end of the tour and that and the tour guide dog go just goes through the same little story the same spiel throughout the whole you know regardless of where the tour goes ok and doesn't really say anything about oh I can't believe we're on a bridge you know look at the beautiful view at the end of the tour the tour guide gives the people on opportunity in various ways to express their attraction to the tour guide here's here's how you get a phone number teo to call from or information how many people actually call you know things like that and what they found was that the men who went on the rickety bridge were much more likely to asked for the phone number to call for more information write than the people who went across the concrete and steel bridge and the idea is think about what happens you're on this tour okay? You go across this rickety bridge you get that little jolt of arousal you get a little butterfly in the stomach but you're not sure why and you get to the end of the tour and you're thinking yourself point I'm a little I'm feeling a little something here I wonder what that is and then you're you see this attractive tour guide you think must be her right and so you miss attribute this arousal in this and this and this sort of you know feeling to the tour guide and you figure I must be attracted to her and then and then you engage in behaviors that that are related to that okay so you are you know the world wasn't kind in that in that sense you weren't sure what the source of the affect was and now you're trying to figure out where it came from so now in this case your miss attributing this kind of arousal for attraction um this happens in other ways too so fritz struck and jerry chlor did a study several years ago making use of this issue of the weather so this actually the study was done if the participants were people in champaner bana illinois it was winter and you know our spring and spring in that area the country sort of less until may and I was a graduate student actually the university of illinois and so I I remember this dearly you know mid april comes along and you think you know it really ought to be warmed by now and it's not okay so they call people up on one of these cold gray rainy days okay and they gave them a ah survey and they said they were interested in a number of questions among them how satisfied are you with your life now if I asked you the question how satisfied are you with your life how do you answer that question? Well, you sort of look inward and say how my feeling about things now on a cold great cold gray rainy day you look inward you think uh I just don't feel so good today must be that my life sucks so you give a lower rating for your life satisfaction okay now for some people they started the survey in a slightly different way they called up they said hey listen we're calling from chicago today how's the weather down there people be like oh man it's cold it's gray it's rainy it's been raining for days man this is awful and then they'd get into the server they'd say well how you feeling about your life well now people look inward and they think how do I feel I don't feel so great but of course I don't feel so great it's cold and gray rainy it's been it's been like this for days that's why I don't feel great my life is fine and so they give higher ratings they're life satisfaction when they have a reason for feeling lousy okay so if you help people to figure out what the attribution should be then they um then they do a better job of figuring out what you know what their overall life satisfaction okay, so what's important here now let's think about this in the context of our habits. Okay? So the feelings that we have are emerging from uh from this you know some aspect of the world around us you know, because our motivational system is somehow engaging with the world and it's trying to communicate with us but it's doing its sort of with sign language right it's doing it with these feelings and then we have to figure out what's going on so now I'm I'm tryingto achieve a goal and I'm having trouble with it you know, because it's difficult I mean you know, really trying to change your behavior is hard and so what? What is one of the things that creates these kinds of negative feelings slow thinking slow progress towards goals makes you feel like you're not doing so well so you're you're frustrated by your progress and now you ask yourself how important is this gold to me? How important is this gold may well how do you know the answer to that question how do you know how important the goal is you lookin where do you think how do I feel about this goal? Well in this moment I don't feel so good about anything so you ask me I don't feel about the goal I don't like this goal at all and so if you if you think about it you you run the risk of attributing er you the frustration that you're having that that negative feeling that negative affect you run the risk of attributing that to the goal rather than to the progress towards the goal and beginning to think you know what? I just I don't care about this at all I don't, uh forget it this isn't important enough to me I'm just not gonna do this anymore, so you have to recognize that those feelings that you're experiencing our feelings that may be coming from a different source and you may end up deciding this isn't that important to me not because it isn't really important to you but because you are miss attributing those feelings that came from the progress towards the goal to the goal itself so before I go on or any questions anything come in on the chat that we uh well we have a question here that kind of ties into what you were just talking about maybe you could elaborate a little but this this question comes from shrew me and they say the storytelling since it feeds on emotions have an impact on habits and if so is there a way to examine storytelling and look at the key points to try to get people to establish a habit or to build on a habit? You kind of ties and we're talking about over the emotions that go beyond it yeah, yeah storytelling is really fascinating I mean, you could ask yourself wire stories so important to the human condition and I think a big part about stories is that they have two elements to him one of those elements is the planning element so stories air great ways of teaching people how to go about doing something so one of the one of the wonderful things about stories is that they allow us to experience things that we've never actually encountered in real life before and so if I tell you a story I can actually prepare you for what it is that's going to come I can prepare you for here's the plan you need to go through here's that slog you're gonna have to go through that's going to be really difficulty so I can actually help you to experience what it's going to be like to achieve a new goal by carrying you through that process through someone else's story that's one piece of it and then the other part of it is that I can help you to experience feelings and I can help you to figure out how to attribute those emotions right how to create the emotional attribution through stories so if I tell you a story about how hard it was for me to do something and how I felt like giving up but I persevered because I realized that it was just that frustration with the process I tell you that story now when you experience the same thing you know oh, I'm I'm just frustrated because this is hard I've got to keep at it the stories are a great way of helping people to plan and helping people to deal with the emotions that their experience yeah, I have a question what you're not sure what the feeling is if you're sort of in this state of confusion so how do you unpack that? Is it because you truly don't know I don't want to know or maybe because you're as an adult you have just so much stuff going on if within your have you experienced so many things because I imagine with children it's pretty easy, I would think well they might know better well children, children, children often don't know but it's sometimes you know what's interesting is it's easier for us as adults to figure out what might be going on with kids because there are just fewer things in the kid's world although even then we get it wrong kids, it'll be really irritable and it turns out there's something going on in school that you were unaware of right? So so it could even be difficult particularly those kids get older, it gets it gets harder and harder, but actually I think all of us experienced some degree of confusion with this and kids are actually ill prepared often to to do that kind of attribution, right? They just know they feel lousy and so they give into the experience without necessarily doing a good job of understanding where it came from because in order to do really begin to do that attribution, you need mohr and more maturity and these frontal lobes of the brain in order to because you're really what you're doing is essentially interpreting your behaviours as if you're an outside observer so you're sort of inside and outside at the same time and so the more sophisticated you get at understanding where those feelings can come from the better the job you khun do which is some some of time why kids will just go into these spirals where they're you know I mean you know having temper tantrums or sometimes just laughing hysterically there's no control there in part because there's it's just hard to know even why you know they're having a hard time knowing why why they're doing what they're doing you know as adults we were better at telling stories but we're still not so good necessarily a telling the right story so we often tell stories to ourselves about this must be why I'm feeling what I'm feeling but we don't always get it right and again another reason why people go into therapy you know a good therapist is someone who has spent a lot of time learning about the kinds of things that people attribute and miss attribute right and so what part of what a good therapist is doing is trying to unpack the context and unpack the situation to see if between you you khun dig down and figure out what's going on here why am I what where is this feeling actually coming from and am I attributing it to the right source or am I actually getting in tow other trouble by attributed attributing it to the wrong source right? So that's a lot of the game that we're playing and because our subsequent actions get driven by our beliefs about why we're feeling what we're feeling that can also play into it so if I feel bad and I b I believe I'm feeling bad because I don't really care about this goal, you know? You know, so for example, you know, a lot of times they tell people if you're going through a bad personal relationship don't don't change jobs, right? Why? Well, one of the reasons you don't want to change jobs because actually your job might be okay but you might be just generally feeling lousy about life and so now you're assuming everything in my life is awful my relationship is awful the people in my life are awful and my work is awful and so then you go about trying to find a new job and now you create this complete disruption in your life when in fact it's largely that you were in a relationship that had fallen apart and if you just stuck with the job through the negative part you would begin to find some of those more positive aspects to your job again later so having somebody else from the outside who can help he's that apart a little bit and say yeah, you keep complaining about your job it really isn't so bad, you know, I mean everything else has kind of fallen apart your unmoored in your personal life you know, let's, keep an island of stability there. Right? And let's have something that we can grab onto. And so that that you know that that third person is there to help you to see, the bigger, the bigger context.

Class Description

Setting a goal is one thing, but actually doing the work to achieve that goal is a totally different endeavor. If you want to hit your targets and make lasting changes in your life, join author and psychologist Art Markman, Ph.D., to learn what it takes to build and maintain healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

This course won’t serve up superficial self-help tips; instead, you’ll dive into the latest cognitive science behind behavior change. You’ll learn how to build new, positive habits and break the cycle of existing negative ones. You’ll explore what it takes to sustain healthy habits over time and increase your chances of maintaining new habits by empowering your friends and family to make positive changes, too.

Don’t waste another day simply wishing you could make a change that really sticks — equip yourself with the techniques you need to transform your life in measurable, powerful, and positive ways.