Today is February 29th, 2012. Many people are talking today about making the most of the “extra” time that Leap Day offers. If you’re truly going to do that, though, it’s going to take intentional effort to walk a new path, and beyond that, an adjustment of your habits.
Just in time for the “bonus” day, there are two recently published books that provide insight into how to make a difference in your life. I just discovered these books today, so this isn’t a full book review . . . but their focus fits in perfectly with the theme of “starting something new”.
The first book is The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life by Elisha Goldstein. In this book Goldstein, who has a PhD and is a blogger for Psych Central, explores the idea that for humans, there is a “space” in between stimulus and response during which we do have the power to choose our behavior. The Now Effect shows us how we can train our minds to see what Goldstein describes as “the ‘aha’ moments of clarity and choice that are all around us.”
So, we have a choice. No surprise there. So, what’s the main barrier to making that choice?
Think about this for a moment: Did you drive to work today? If so, can you describe what building or other landmark you drove by 5 minutes into your commute? Most likely not, because if it’s a route you take every day, you’ve gone into a sort of “auto pilot” about certain aspects of driving to work each day. (Yeah, scary, isn’t it?) So, the barrier to seeing a new direction and making a conscious choice to change boils down to this: examining and then changing our habitual behaviors. The ingrained patterns of behaviors that we perform subconsciously, over and over each day, are what make it tough to see alternate choices.
That’s where the second book comes in. Released just this week, The The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhig is an exploration of the social science of routine. Duhig asserts that a person’s individual behavioral patterns are so predictable that companies like Target can predict when a woman becomes pregnant. The Huffington Post wrote a book review on the book and highlighted the central conceptual model of the book: a three-step process by which habits develop: cue, routine and reward.
Again, the cue-routine-reward is no earth-shattering discovery. That was the main model of my behavioral psychology courses in undergrad. Even if it’s not new science, the book appears to write this in a way that may help someone trying to break out of a negative cycle of behavior.
Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Even though it’s Leap Day, maybe it’s a step (rather than a leap) that’s in order to get you started on a new path.
Whether it’s leaping or stepping, I wish you luck!
Disclosure statement: It would be a real drag for the Feds to show up and haul me away, so I’m following the rules set forth by the FTC . Some of the links in the above post are affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and purchase the item (looking is free), I will receive a commission. Hey, a girl’s gotta find a way to cover her blogging habit, right?