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Here’s Why People Change and How You Can Too

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how you can change your life

I was recently participating in a family event. As I was walking by I heard someone saying: “well what can you do about it… That’s her character, and people can’t change.” The fact that people believe that character and attitude can’t be changed always surprises me. I keep hearing this from people who are considered educated yet with all those university degrees, it feels like some very basic truths are missed.

Everything is either growing or disintegrating

Everything in our world is either growing or disintegrating, including our bodies and minds. Likewise a person’s character or attitude is continuously changing. The reason many people think they can’t change is because of habits. A habit is an action that requires no conscious mental effort. This action is so ingrained in us, that we don’t give any thought of whether or not to perform it.

For example, did you have to decide whether to get dressed this morning? Since habits help us manage the data load of our everyday lives, we are usually inclined to make more of them. We become so accustomed to them, that we think they control our lives. That’s why most people think they can’t change. They believe that their habits are stronger than they are. The truth is that our habits are as strong as the power we give them.

Changing our habits is something that requires a big enough reward to do so. If we feel the reward for changing our behavior is big enough, then it would have more power than the habit. So how can you change your attitude?

Here are 3 ways that will help you change yourself and your attitude:

1. Construct a new habit

If habits are ingrained in our behavior it’s only logical that changing them will change our attitude. Choose a habit you wish to change. For example: arriving late for meetings. Start working on it. Be there 20 minutes before the meeting, and then do it again and again. You might think that a new habit takes 21-30 days to form. This is probably not true and originates in a mix of study and folklore.

The more recent studies show that habits take anywhere between 18-254 days to become fully automated. This is not to discourage you from trying out a new habit, but rather so you know that changing habits takes time. So if you slip up on adopting your new habit it’s completely okay, don’t beat yourself up for it.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Shaw

2. Think different thoughts

Our thoughts are vibrations in certain frequencies that we send out. Whatever we send out, the universe returns back.  Just think of a radio station that is tuned to a certain station. Each station is a different frequency, and in order to receive a different broadcast, we simply change the tuned frequency.

This is the same with our thoughts. Once we change the frequency of our thoughts, we would receive different results. So negative (low-frequency) thoughts will bring negative results, and high-frequency thoughts will bring positive results.

Use the below exercise to change your thoughts:

Choose any object. It could be a person or an inanimate object that has some relation to yourself. For 5 minutes, think about all the good things this object/person brings into your life. How does that object/person make your life easier or more enjoyable? Then, focus on acknowledging the good and give thanks for having that object/person in your life. This exercise immediately switches the vibration you are currently on into a more positive one. It is actually possible to feel the change of feeling when we give thanks for the good in our life.

3. Adopt a new perspective

The way we look at things affects our thoughts about them. Everything just is. We are the ones that give meaning to it based on the way we perceive it. So changing our behavior can be achieved by changing the way we perceive things.

Let’s say that you didn’t manage to complete your daily tasks one day. One perspective could be that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. However, shifting the perspective could mean that we could look at the situation as if you are simply prolific. You are simply a very fruitful person. Feels better, right?

One exercise to help shift your perspective is to write down whatever bothers you on a piece paper. Then sit a table where you can see the paper. Choose 2-3 people you respect and think highly of. They could be someone you personally know, or even historical figures (my favorite is Churchill).

Then sit at the table with the paper in front and say out loud everything that bothers you about the written subject. Once you finish, move to a different place at the table and imagine what one of the people you chose think about the situation. What would he have to say? Act as that person, and say his thoughts out loud.

Do that a few times while switching chairs and people, so you’d have a range of perspectives to choose from. Then adopt the perspective that you like best.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Our attitude towards things is comprised of our thoughts, feelings and actions. These three are inseparable. Just as if you have a cake, which has ingredients that construct the whole, so does our attitude and it is constructed of these 3 parts.

We can change the minute we decide to. Our attitude is plastic, and can change at any point in life. It only requires us to decide we want to change, commit to our decision and keep at it until we feel the shift. After that, repeating the new pattern would make it our new nature. So next time you hear someone say that people can’t change, tell them how you did.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matt Mortensen

    Feb 9, 2019 at 4:33 am

    The reason I think people change is their desire to change. Before anything happens you must have a desire for something to happen, or for something to change.

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The 3 Types of Confidence You Need to Know and Understand

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We’ve all heard it before, confidence is everything. Those that seem to have it, have it all. They, themselves, are not necessarily perfect human beings, but they seemingly have the charisma to attract whatever they want in life. (more…)

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3 Simple Tips to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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