Habits: Creating & Changing
Welcome back to creative live if you are just joining us, this is the power of habit, but art markman, we're heading into segment number two in our first segment, we got a great overview of what we're gonna be talking about in this course. We also got into the role of three and looked at exactly how important that number three is, and we're building out some of these habits heading into our next section. We're gonna be talking about making and using the habits, which is really exciting, kind of getting into the meat of what we're going to be doing over the rest of this session. I know a lot of people out there have been having questions in the chat room keep those coming in and don't forget if you're on twitter. You can also use the hashtag dr art live on twitter and get those questions in there as well. We're going to be monitoring that keeping the conversation going and, you know, don't do too much multitasking no, you know, focus on twitter, ask your question, then come back and wat...
ch us it's going to be great. So looking forward to this next segment now are we do want to talk about some of the bonus materials that we've been mentioning here now free with our vp. Is this habits quiz that we've been mentioning that our students have taken here? You want to tell everyone a little bit about the habits quiz? Well, we kind of show them exactly what's going on here? Yeah, sure. So the idea is that if right now you have a particular set of things you do in your life, whatever they are and you need to really figure out what those are, if you're going to be prepared to learn how to change your habits, you auto understand what it is you're doing right now, and so the idea behind this quiz was to get you thinking about here some of the things that I do right now, I'm not sure if they're right or wrong, maybe I'm doing some good things, maybe I'm not, so take the quiz, get through that and then and then what we'll do is each of those questions was designed to be related to some of the things that we're gonna be talking about over the next few days and so you'll now be prepared to go wow, this relates tow, you know, I knew I shouldn't be doing that great. All right, so if you have not rcp yet, you can still do that right now just click the r s v p but on the course page and you will have access to this quiz do take it it's gonna have a lot of great results for you if you haven't done it yet don't fall behind the rest of our students you want to take that quiz right now and follow along with arts course so I'm gonna let you get into segment number two all right? All right. Thank you. Excellent. All right habits that's why we're here today because our life is driven by habits. Now those of you came here today in the studio you're really aware of this because this was a violation of your habits right today is not like most other days now at least for you. Probably unlike for me you at least got to wake up in your own homes this morning. So you had some habits in your day, right? You got up you you got dressed you you've got washed up and ready to go and then you could be least begin to think about what am I going to do today from there, though, things went off the rails, right? You had to figure out where am I going? How did I get here? What entrance do I walk in? Where do I how do I get where I'm going? And so and so you now have to think about things that are normally things that you do completely, automatically, completely without thought all right, that's the essence of habits, habits allow us to do things without thinking because we do them through our routines and of course, everybody who's at home today you got to do a lot of your normal routine, you've got to get up and get ready for the day and then sit down at your own computer and you're all ready to go, okay? I, on the other hand, had to get up this morning and in an unfamiliar hotel room, and by the time I got myself washing ready, I was exhausted because I had no idea where anything wass and I couldn't remember where I had put my toothpaste this morning, but I did eventually find it, which was kind of lucky. Um, so what we want to do in this section is figure out, where did all those habits come from? Why is it that I was able to develop all sorts of habits without actually practicing any of them? Where did those habits come from? What is the formula for creating those habits, and how do we break the bad ones? And along the way, in order to figure out how we break the bad ones, we're gonna have to start analyzing some of our own habits so something you should be thinking about right now is what's, a habit that I want to spend and time thinking about today, right? What are some of the habits that are plaguing me? And if you want to share some of those habits on the chat, go ahead and do those and weakened, we can have some discussion about those habits because we really want to get ourselves in a situation where we're ready to start thinking about when do I do those things? Because once I know when I do them, then I can start to figure out how I can change them, okay, so when I every once in a while, I'm taught this in a while, but but but I used to teach a big lecture class in cognitive psychology, you know, it's one of those is a professor of once in a while, you get to do three hours of stand up comedy a week in one hour increments, you get an audience of about one hundred ten people who don't really want to be there, and and you teach them a little bit about the way that they think, and one of the things that I tell those classes over and over again is that your cognitive system is set up in a way that as much as possible, it wants not to think. And what I mean by that is we want to set up our lives so that as many of the routines that we have in our lives are things that we can do without having to think about them rather than having to think about every single aspect of your life now think back to the last time that you moved to a new place so I actually moved to a new house in february and so I'm still in the aftermath of this when you move to a new house you now have to think about every single thing in your life the stuff you don't want to be thinking about I walk into rooms now and there's there's three light switches on the wall and I just stand there and stare at them and then start flipping switches somewhat randomly because I can't remember which switch goes with which light right in my old house I could just walk into rooms and flip a light switch you know, I pick up the mail off the floor and I could flick it onto a table without having to pay any attention to it. I still don't know exactly where I'm supposed to put my recycling in certain rooms you know and it's really disruptive in those situations because you find yourself you know you had something you were really worried about something you had to do and then you find something they need to be recycled, you pick it up and you walk into another room and you realize, okay, I have no idea what I was doing before I picked up this sheet of paper and it's, not a sign of, you know, impending senile dementia it's, that you are forcing yourself essentially to multi task. You are forcing yourself to to pay attention to all of the mundane elements of your life. So habits make your life worth living without habits you really wouldn't be able to do, uh, to do anything that you want to do because your life would be totally disrupted by all of the low level little details that that influence most of your daily actions. Okay, so what we want to do is to figure out what what creates those habits, why air they generally good toe have. And then what happens when habits go bad, which feels like a like a geraldo headline? What habits go bad, but but they do right every once in a while we engage in a habit that used to be a perfectly good thing to do at some point and now is not something we want to do any more. I will. I will at some point talked to you about my terrible habit I usedto have of biting my nails and how I finally got over it okay, so what's a habit habit is an automatic behavior and what we mean by an automatic behavior it's sort of thing you're able to do without thinking about it. And not only can you do it without thinking you often don't even have a memory of having done it after you've completed it. Okay, now, when I want to see you don't have a memory of it in my old house, the one that I that I I just moved out of when I would come home, I would park my car in the garage and I'd walk into the house and I would close the garage door with a little flick of the hand and step in, you know, it's so the automatic garage door opener would close and I would step into the house, and then my wife would say to me, did you close the garage door? And I would say, uh, I don't know and I have to open the door and check. In fact, we eventually cut a hole in the door between the house and the garage because I got tired of opening the door to check see whether I had closed the garage door, but I had absolutely no memory of it because it was just it was something I could do completely automatically. Okay. And that's that's really what habits are all about? It's your ability to do these things without thinking and the true value of your habits is that they are the things that actually allow you to multi task. So if you think about it when you are sitting at your computer typing a document so you have something you really want to write and you are, you are typing it out. The reason that you're able to think about the document while you're typing is because the taiping has become a habit. If you were still a hunt and peck type pissed where you were just looking for the letters, you wouldn't be able to think and type at the same time because you would be, then you'd be truly multi tasking. You'd be looking for the letter l or tea or whatever it is while you're trying to think about what it is that you're writing and so instead you learn to touch type in order to be able to multi task same thing is true, you know, a lot of our of what we do when we're driving is done by habit. This is the reason that you could do a perfectly good job of staying in your lane in a in a road with no traffic on it. While you're listening to something else it's only when something unexpected happens that forces you to think because it disrupts the habit that that you could get yourself into trouble when you're multitasking so habits are the mechanisms that allow us to do several things at once so that's why habits are so important and so good for us now habits and this is an interesting thing habits are actually part of your memory so we don't often think about habits is being memories but what habits do is that they associate the environment with the behavior now the environment is both the stuff that's physically out there in the world as well as your mental environment right? So what you're thinking what you're feeling all of that gets incorporated in your memory that associates that environment with the behavior and essentially when you repeat that behavior in that environment often and then you create a habit that's where they're going to come from, uh and some of these air habits that we go out of our way to learn. So if you were like me you learn to touch type I actually learned on an actual typewriter that just, you know, not everyone did that I actually went to college with a typewriter I think was the last the last literally the last generations I went to college in the fall of eighty four and I bought a mac halfway through my freshman year but but but you know, you learn to type, you know is a s d f j k l sammy you know that whole thing and you practice that over and over and over again and you actually have to practice that you deliberately practice that if you play a musical instrument, you know, when I learned to play the saxophone it was deliberate practice sitting down to do that and I was creating habits all along the way the thing is we also create lots of habits uh unintentionally just by the repeated actions that we take so when I was able to, you know, flip the garage door closed in my old house, I didn't practice that I didn't say okay let's do that ten times, you know, you know, one you know, I didn't do that it was just that over days, doing that over and over again, I created the habit, right? And so you know, the system is constantly searching for these routines it's constantly learning when you've performed in action in a particular situation and essentially when it becomes faster to retrieve them memory of what you do in that situation when it's faster to do that than it is to think about what you're doing that's when you have a habit, okay, so let's go through that for me a little bit what creates a habit here's the two part formula I wish it were three that would be nice and symmetric but it's only two. This is the two part formula for habits. Okay, you create habits whenever there is a consistent mapping between the behavior and the environment. And then you repeat that action. So let's, take let's, pick that apart. The consistent mapping what that says is that there has to be consistency between the environment and the action in order to get the habit. So think about your car, for example, you sit down in your car, you got your gas pedal, you got your brake pedal, they're always in the same place. If I were to switch up where the gas pedal the brake pedal were every single time I got in the car, I'd never be able to form a habit, right? If, you know, it would be a little game, right? I've been, then I'd be driving the bright light that brake light should come on in the car in front of me, and I be staring at the pedals, trying to figure out which one depressed. And by the time I actually pressed when I'd be in the car in front of me, right? So one of the reasons that we create consistency and user interfaces in products is because we're trying to help people to develop habits okay? And that consistency is really important. Now you get this in all sorts of user interfaces musical instruments, for example, or at the that the keys on a piano are always laid out in the same place where a particular key always plays a particular note because if they switched that up, you wouldn't be able to develop habits. But this is also true for conceptual information where we create habits. So if you think about math, for example, your basic math facts always mapped the same way. So here at home, you ready? Two plus three here we go. Two two plus five. Excellent. So you have habits for this if we change that up, so the two plus three was sometimes five and was sometimes nine. Then you would have been able to develop habits for that. So even things that are purely conceptual when we have that kind of consistency, we create habits. Okay, so we need to have that consistent mapping, and then we have to repeat the behavior in that circumstance. Okay? So if you repeat it often enough, we're gonna have to figure out what that often enough is. But if we repeat it often enough, then we get a habit, and the reason for that is because each time that we repeat it were laying down another memory that relates that situation to that action. And as soon as you can retrieve the action faster than you can think about it, you have a house. Okay, so then what does it mean to do it often enough? I wish that there was a number I could give you every once in a while. I give these talks and somebody says to me, so I heard it takes twenty one days or sixty days or ninety days. The real answer scientifically is it depends and here's what it depends on because your habit is part of memory. It depends on how distinctive the memory is. So let's think about too, the sort of ends of the spectrum on the easy end of the spectrum. So I moved to this new house, and I have to take a new route home from work because my older doesn't work. My older gets me to my old house, so I'm driving to the new house and there's an intersection where I have to make a left turn so there's a traffic light and then there's this really weird building it's, an office complex that used to be a church. And so it's just incongruous, right? Because there's names of companies on it, but it's a it looks like it's, a church building it's a weird building and I have to make a left turn at that intersection took me like three times through the intersection to have the habit to do that because it's just so novel so unique that that I could retrieve what I was supposed to do in that situation really quickly. Hey, that's the guy there that was easy, right? That's the easy end of the spectrum, the hard into the spectrum arithmetic your basic math facts the ones we just went over that we proved you all of habits for you probably spent the better part of first, second and third grade learning all of those facts. And the reason for that is, first of all, they're all pretty similar, right? Two plus three, two plus four. Okay, but those air really similar equations, right? They'll both at a two and a plus, but they require different answers. And then as soon as you begin to get the hang of that, they go well, two plus three, but two times three. Okay. That's just weird, right? And so now they're just messing you up. And so it takes years to be able to do that, and we spent all of this time drilling and practicing that and doing all those worksheets and getting them wrong and feeling bad and all because it's, just hard to keep all of that information separate and you need to just do it over and over and over again and that's kind of the worst case for habit formation so that's the it depends part so if you're in the business of china create habits and other people and one of the things I want to point out in this class is that while all of us air here in part because we have habits of our own that we want to change there's also a lot of people out there who are in the business of trying to influence other people's habits in fact most businesses are really trying to create habits and other people almost no business I'm aware of is capable of succeeding if they sell something to somebody once almost every business has to sell you something every six to eight weeks for the rest of their lives right? Er and so how are you going to do that right? You might think well, I have to have people thinking about me all the time and that's true if you could get people thinking about you all the time that might work but really wouldn't it be great if people acted in a way that that your business was a part of what they did not because they were explicitly thinking about you all the time but because the fabric of their life required that they interact with you that that was that you were part of their habit okay, so so whether we're trying to change our own behavior change other people's behavior we need to understand the root of all of these habits okay, now we love love love love these consistent mapping okay, we love them because they enable us to do it what we did last time without having to think about it. Okay, so think about some of the habits in your life, right? These air things mean so so your bathroom for example is probably set up in a way that enables you to do everything without thinking because everything is in its proper place, right? We have little bits of furniture for things like where the toothpaste the toothbrush go and they're right out there and you could just reach for them and brush your teeth in the morning and you've got, you know, whatever little vials of stuff you need to put on your face or your body or out in the same place all the time and if they get put out of place it forces it pulls you out of your routine, right? So you create environments that that support these kinds of habits. This is true for for objects that we interact with so the reason that the gas pedal the brake pedal on the car are always in the same places so that no matter what car you get into, you can uh you can drive it right? The problem, of course, is that there are certain things in cars that don't have consistent mapping sze like like the windshield wipers and the lights now lights these days where they're getting better at because because they've got the automatic headlights, but the windshield wipers still haven't figured out how to turn themselves on automatically and so on, and so what happens is you get into a new car and you can't find the windshield wipers particularly like if you're renting a car. I had this experience in miami a few years ago have you ever been to miami? You know that there are certain times a year where every time you know every afternoon about three o'clock it just starts raining for no apparent reason wish would happen in boston tomorrow, but but but anyhow, so I sat down in this rental car in the middle of one of these downpours and I couldn't find the windshield wipers they just were nowhere to be found and I looked everywhere steering column dashboard everywhere, and so then I had to engage another one of my habits, which was to find the the owner's manual for the car and somebody cleverly put that in the trunk was awesome I tried to swim to the trunk in order to find the windshield wipers because and the reason for that was because there was no consistent mapping right? And so if you think about it whenever ah consistent mapping and our environment gets disrupted it makes us uncomfortable. It makes us crabby if you move to a new house, you are irritable for awhile because nothing works none of your routines work anymore and it's frustrating because you have to think about things that you didn't have to think about before um think about, uh, you know, one of the ways you can see this is to think about some of your favorite websites, so there is a very popular social networking site that I guess I won't name for right down the changes its user interface every six months or so and every time that the user interface changes, you'd think that someone had threatened to destroy puppies or something because because the outrage that comes along with the change in the user I can't believe that they're doing this, and you might think that the reason for this is that the engineers at that particular company simply make the user interface of worse with every generation. But I don't think that's true, I don't think that the the's user interfaces air worse. I think what happens is that that we are forcing people to disrupt a bunch of map ings that that have caused their habits not tow work anymore and they find it so frustrating that they need to speak out about it loudly so if you're if you're trying to create habits and other people, you need to be aware of what of what the mapping czar that they're using in order to influence their behavior, and we interact with all sorts of people, whether it's in a business level or or just enter personally. So what are the habits that we create and other people and what happens when we disrupt some of those habits? That's one of the things that we want to think about because there are companies, for example, to do this extraordinarily successfully company like amazon, for example, changes its user interface all the time. If one were to create capture screenshots from over the years, you will discover that there are all sorts of changes in the user interface on that side, most people never notice him, and they never noticed them because they do a very good job of maintaining habits so that the button to buy stuff in the logo and all of those things are always in the same place, ok? And so you're not disrupting people's habits, you're just finding ways to give them new information in a valuable way. So we love tto have these consistent mapping now why this matters at some point, we're going to begin to think about creating good habits for ourselves and changing habits we want to make sure that we seize control of our own environments and create those consistent mapping is when we're trying to build a habit and disrupt those consistent mapping is when we're trying to break a habit, okay? Because this provides us with a lever for influencing our own behavior, and this is going to be really important now in order to change habits and let's face it that's why we're here, right? In order to change our habits, we have to become aware of some of our behavior. And so what I want to do is we're gonna take a few minutes to actually become a little bit more aware of our habits and then to share some of these experiences with each other, okay? Because here's the paradox and this is part of what causes all of you so much trouble when you're trying to change your behavior. So here you are, whether it's, new year's resolutions or you just wake up one day and think I need to change this aspect of myself and you resolve to do it and then you fail. All right? Uh, it's amazing and it's true with all sorts of things, right? I mean, one of my favorite quotes, mark twain said quitting smoking is one of the easiest things in the world to do I myself have done it a hundred times, right? You know, it's uh it's it's really important if you're goingto change your behaviour not to just resolve to do it but also toe understand the habits that are supporting that behavior so let me give you an example I'd like everyone to see that I have lovely nails now really they're great nails if they're fine I mean I don't spend any time taking care of them but I don't sabotage my nails anymore so starting I mean as long as I can remember from when I was a little kid I used to bite my nails I mean just all the way down to the point where was painful like red raw I mean I just it's awful um but I did that for years and my mom would tell me to stop uh and she just say stop biting your nails which was utterly unhelpful because I knew I was supposed to stop but she didn't give me any strategies for stopping mom it's okay, I've forgiven you at this point but and she actually for a while she painted my nails with that pepper stuff right which which had primarily had the effect of making me like spicy food right? I mean, I just you know, I just I had to do it and and actually I got I got all the way through grade school high school college still biting my nails as unattractive as that was and I was finally in graduate school and I decided, you know what, it's time it's time to stop biting my now, and at that point, I needed to figure out what to do, and part of what I did was actually to start paying attention to when I bite my nails, right? That was one of the first key steps is just figure out when I did it because I knew when my nails have been bitten because they weren't there anymore and they were sore, usually I'd bite him far enough down that it was painful, right? So I knew I had done it, but I didn't know when I was doing it to get to the end of their be like, darn no nails. So so one of the things I needed to do was to start keeping track of when I bit my nails, which forced me to be really vigilant about the behaviour and to think about when I was doing it, where I was doing it, what I was feeling, what I was thinking, because where the levers that you have to change your behavior, if you don't even know when you're doing it. Now it turned out for me that what I was doing was I would sit at my desk, a za grad student and read because that's, what you do is a grad student. You do a lot of reading, so I sitting at my desk reading and I would start biting my nails while I was reading because it was because I was there and my hand's needed something to do. And so actually, you know, as it turns out, the reason I have such lovely nails now is because I have dai bought desk toys. I went out and got I've got a slinky and I got chinese those chinese exercise balls, and, uh, I got I got some wind up toys, and now when I sit at my desk, I play, I play play with the slinky, and so now I'm addicted to test toys, but but it's okay, because that's pretty innocuous, right? And it turns out it's really awkward, uh, to paint your nails while you we're playing with, like, playing with this slinky just doesn't doesn't work well, so, um, so that was so the first step in that process was just becoming a aware of when in the world I do this. And honestly, I had had no idea that I was doing it while I was reading until I discovered that right? So it was important to to bring that to mind. So what I want you all to do remember I told you the beginning be ready to think about a habit that you're interested in changing it doesn't have to be the only habit you're ever interested in changing but just for the sake of of argument this is what I want you to dio now obviously we can't go through a full two week period now and generally speaking what I recommend so we have this this lovely have a diary here in on page six of your packets okay so if you downloaded your packet after you've r s v p um then then you would have this habit tire if you don't have it look really carefully and write this down quickly but don't do that our svp and download the thing okay what I wa what you want to do is to actually keep a diary for about two weeks to really before you see a lot of people want to rush into changing their habits they think you know what I'm just got to start now right it's like it's new year's eve I'm gonna I'm gonna be I'm going to check my email less starting today and and you know and then january first you don't check your e mail at all because it's january first year kind of have a headache for some reason and then but joined by january third you're back to your old habits again because you didn't really take the time to learn how to change your behavior and the first step of that is actually understanding what you did so rather than leaping into changing your habits you know unless you're having is actively dangerous if it's just annoying then give yourself another two weeks of doing this of living your life and just start paying attention to it okay clarify again which page number people confined this is page six six page six of the uh of your packet has the habit diary and I want you to just go through this exercise think about think about your day yes today or your day today if you feel like you've lived enough of it to have gone through your habit but think about your day and answer these questions right so so figure out what what habit is that you're interested in changing and ask yourself you know where where did I do it you know and and and we're there we're there places that I was that I was involved in that made it harder for me to stop doing this what did I do what was I feeling right really start to think about when did I do the thing that I don't want to do because that's what you need to do for about two weeks you need to start making the invisible visible the mindless mindful and so let's take a couple of minutes and do that just for yesterday and this will be your first day in a fourteen day period where you could begin to do this every day in order to learn more about your habits. Great now we've had some questions coming in while people are working on this maybe now's a good time to touch on summer this question comes from shrew me and they say any thoughts on habit formation and people with a d d dyslexia or other learning issues? Yeah um so you know the thing about about a d d is that it's just the hardest thing that I did is that it it doesn't give you the opportunity to really focus your attention on a particular thing. Now, um, one of the things that that tends to do is to create habits that get in the way of learning. And so one of the things that happens with a lot of people with a deed in particular is that they get distracted by all kinds of information in the environment. So for example, if there's anybody sitting here with lady di there, they're gonna have a hard time filling out their habit diary and so one of the things you want to do is to change that environment a little bit tio tio influence the way that that the distractions that air there around you so there's an interesting thing which has to do, for example, with music so should you listen to music while you're working? And the answer is it depends, so if you're a sort of person who tends to be distracted by stuff in the outside environment than actually having some music in the back in your background that covers over the the intermittent noises is really valuable for you because it keeps you from getting distracted, but if you're the sort of person who tends to focus on things with a laser focus, then actually music is bad because it tends to cause you to start listening to the music, so you want to avoid that? So so with a dd those are a couple of things that you can do, you know, with things like dyslexia, you know, that won't necessarily affect your ability to to create habits generally, but it does require you to really monitor your environment in the reading and barb, right, and to really give yourself strategies for depending on the kind of dyslexia really focusing on the text and on dh, helping you teo to recognize the words that air there, which really does required in an environment that's free of distractions, because when, whenever you do something that's really frustrating you, your body tells you do something else right? It's it's, you know that what frustration does is to say this isn't working for me, so try something else and unfortunately, when you're dealing with a learning disability, that frustration is telling you, this isn't working, which you knew already. And so now you have to force yourself to continue doing something that every fiber of your being is telling you not to dio. And so in those situations, you really need to kind of overcome that frustration. And part of what you want to do is protect yourself from yourself. Meaning, don't give yourself easy outlets to do things like check email on, do other things. Wonderful. All right, cool.