Humans are certainly amusing and complex. We are capable of rationality at a level above most, if not all*, life on this planet. Yet, at the same time, it would be rare for me to go a day without observing an example of irrational behaviour. We frequently make irrational decisions like eating a processed candy bar knowing that it will do harm to our body. We know something is bad – yet we proceed to do it anyways. There seems to be a period between acquiring new information and actually using that information in a real way to change your behaviour. Sometimes this period is extremely long: I’ve seen people smoke cigarettes for years after learning it was toxic for them, and some with no interest in quitting. Sometimes this period is extremely short: You would quickly stop playing in a field if you saw your friend step on a land mine and explode. Ever hear that phrase “I did the best I could”? I wonder how true that is for those who say it. It wouldn’t be true if they ever ate unhealthy food, inhaled a cigarette, spent frivolously, or remained sedentary after learning the negative effects of such activities. If you are not acting on knowledge you have, then you are not doing the best you can do. I’m sure you could think of a few things you’d like to change because you know your current habits are bad. I certainly can, so you would not be alone. So, why do we do things when we know they are bad for us?
Change is Hard
It’s because change is hard. I’ll be the first to admit that I have knowingly eaten chips with some nasty chemicals on them, and I still haven’t even made exercising a regular part of my life. People are naturally resistant to change, and few can embrace change. Change often invites unfamiliarty and challenges. Unfamiliarity invites an unknown world and challenges invite a chance to fail. An unknown world and a chance to fail both invite fear. So change is scary. It’s not always easy to read a line in a book and suddenly make life changes. If it were, I highly doubt the world would be in the state it is in today. So how do you actually change, and shorten the gap between knowing and doing?
The only way you will make a change is if it becomes more uncomfortable to remain as you are than it is to change.
At this point, conveniently, change often becomes easy. As an example: Would you smoke a cigarette if it burned your lips every time you inhaled? Probably not, because the difficulty of quitting is less than the discomfort of burning your lips all the time (maybe actual smokers would disagree!). Would you eat another animal if it meant that you were next in line to be eaten? Again, probably not, as I bet the reality of being eaten is more discomforting than not eating the animal. I don’t want someone to bite into my arm. These examples may be a bit extreme, but they illustrate the point.
The Secret to Adopting Change
I posit that you simply need more discomfort. So, the secret way to change?
If you want to change, make it very uncomfortable for yourself not to change.
This can be achieved through two main means:
- 1. Exposing yourself to the negative truths of your current state. This will increase your discomfort.
- 2. Exposing yourself to the positive truths of your goal state. This will help motivate you and visualize your end results.
These are both ways to increase your mental discomfort. Eventually you will simply be put off by your bad habits; it will be too uncomfortable for you to do them, and changing is now easy. If you want to change your diet, understand why what you’re eating is so bad for you. Get down to the science of how it affects the inside of your body. Build a stronger connection with your body and choose to work in harmony with it by choosing food full of life. Understand your connection with nature. And learn about the healing power of healthy food for motivation to switch to it! Visualize a new, vibrant you. Personally, after learning and understanding the processes involved in getting most food (processed factory foods, animal products including milk and eggs, etc) into my stomach, and then the effect it had on me whilst inside my body, I had an easy time dropping these from my diet – and after I gave it up, I continued to learn more things which affirmed my decision, and squishing any would-be temptations. Now that my transition is mostly complete [animal products completely gone and a highly improving diet] and I have completed my change, it would be difficult to revert back to my old habits. Even though I used to think my current diet would be the hard one, the tables have turned. It would be hard for me to be such an enemy to my body by fueling it with taste bud ticklers instead of high quality nutrients. What a change from someone who used to eat meat with every meal, processed food on an hourly basis, and rarely had vegetables. In fact, I hated the taste of many vegetables and now I find them delicious! So you can see it is often not the result that is hard. It is the path to that result – the transition; the change.
Anyways, I had this small thought recently and thought I would expand on it a bit for the blog. I hope this will help you make a change in your life! If I have helped, please leave me a comment telling me about it. You’ll make my day 🙂
*How could I know for sure? I’m not omniscient