Chapter 6: Changing a Habit:
“A habit begins like an invisible thread,
but each time we repeat the action,
we thicken the thread,
add one first,
and then become a rope that binds thoughts
and our actions cannot be undone.” – Orison Swett Marden
If we want to change a habit,
there is only one way that will work:
we must relate to the extreme
and direct pain that the old habit causes us
and the feelings of pleasure indescribable
that a new habit can bring.
Let’s think about it this way:
we all learn certain ways of thinking
and behaving in order to
avoid suffering and have joy.
We have feelings of boredom,
or heaviness and we look for ways
to put an end to these feelings.
Some people go shopping;
some go to drink,
others use drugs;
Others scold their children.
Conscious or not,
they know that these actions will ease their pain
and give them some level of immediate gratification.
Either way, if we want to change it,
we still have to go through 6 simple steps that bring a direct
and lasting result to effectively free us from suffering
and bring joy and more serene.
Those are the following 6 steps:
“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
If you hadn’t been prepared
when the opportunity came along,
you wouldn’t have been lucky.”— Oprah Winfrey
Decide what you really want
And what will stop you achieving it?
You might be surprised how many people come to me for treatment
and when I ask what they want,
it takes them twenty minutes
to tell me what they don’t want
or what they no longer want to endure.
We should remember that whatever we focus on,
we will achieve it in life.
If we focus on what we don’t want,
we’ll get more of it.
The first step to making a change is to decide
what you really want so you can work towards it.
We must also find out what is stopping us from getting what we want.
It is often because we fear the suffering caused by change.
We often think, “If I change, I will suffer,”
or we have a vague fear that change might cause us.
“If you can see it, and believe it,
it is a LOT easier to achieve it.”— Oprah Winfrey
Finding motivation: links
Huge suffering with no change now
And huge fun with change now
Many people know they really want change,
yet they just can’t take action!
Not because they are not capable,
but because they are not motivated.
If someone held a gun to our heads and said,
“You have to get rid of this moodiness
and start feeling happy now,”
surely no one would fail to find ways
to change their mood at that time.
But the problem is that
we are not convinced that change is the right thing to do,
but just the right thing to do.
Or maybe it has to be done, but until “someday”.
The only way we can make change right now is
if we create an extreme urgency
that forces us to do it all the way to the end.
One of the things that motivates most people
to change is a situation
where a person reaches the threshold of suffering.
It means experiencing pain so deeply
that you find yourself changing right now.
“Give me a lever long enough
and a fulcrum strong enough,
I can lift the earth with one hand.” – Archimedes
The most powerful lever you can give yourself is suffering
that comes from within,
not from without.
The deepest pain is knowing that
you have not lived up
to your own standards of living.
So why do some people refuse
to change even though they feel
and know that they need change?
This is because they consider change
to be more painful than no change.
To change someone
and change ourselves,
we have to reverse this view,
to believe that no change brings great suffering
and change brings fascinating
and pleasurable results.
For powerful leverage,
ask yourself pain-focused questions:
“What will it cost me if I don’t change?”.
Most of us think too much about the costs of change,
and less about the costs of not changing.
Make yourself feel so deeply the pain of not changing,
so that you cannot hesitate to act.
Next, ask satisfaction-focused questions
to help you associate feelings of joy with change:
“Ask the right questions,
and the answers will always reveal themselves.”— Oprah Winfrey
“If I change, how will I feel about myself?
I can create motivation.
How powerful would it be if I made a change in my life?
How would my family and friends feel?
How much happier would I be then?
The key is to find as many reasons,
reasons strong enough to motivate you to act now,
rather than wait for a future date.
If you don’t feel motivated to make a change right now,
you really don’t have leverage.
“No matter where you are on your journey,
that’s exactly where you need to be.
The next road is always ahead.”— Oprah Winfrey
Extremely Negative Habits Section
In order for us to feel in a steady state,
we develop habits of thinking,
happen on the same patterns.
images and ideas, asking yourself the same questions.
The problem is that most of us want a new result,
but always act the same way.
I once heard a saying that
the definition of insanity was “Doing the same thing over
and over and expecting new results”.
Please don’t misunderstand me.
There’s nothing wrong with you;
You are not a “fixed” person.
Your resources are already within you right now.
It’s just that you also have fixed associations
that often prevent you from using that ability.
What you need to do
is reorganize your association
so that it steadily guides you in the direction of your desires
and not in the direction of your frustrations and fears.
Have you ever seen a fly trapped in a room?
It immediately looks for light,
so it rushes to the window,
banging itself against it,
sometimes for hours at a time.
Surely you’ve seen someone do the same thing?
They desperately want change;
they have strong leverage.
But no matter how strong the lever is,
it can’t get you out of a tightly closed door.
You have to change the method.
The fly only has a chance to get out of the room
if it flies back and looks for another exit?
If you and I stick to the same old routine,
we’ll only get the same old results.
“You get from the world what you give to the world.”— Oprah Winfrey
Recently, I came up with an interesting way
to break old habits,
during a 3-day seminar I held in Chicago.
One person said that he really wanted
to give up his habit of eating too much chocolate,
but it was clear to me that he felt very happy
when he identified himself as a “chocolate addict”.
In fact, he even wore a T-shirt that read,
“I want the world,
but I’ll give in to chocolate.”
This clearly shows that this man may want
to give up chocolate,
but still feels
there is “some benefit” in maintaining this habit.
That’s why he couldn’t let it go.
He can only gain leverage
if he can ascribe painful associations to eating chocolate.
At that time,
he will find a way to remove himself
from those sufferings
and find other joys for himself
and I helped him do this
by creating painful associations with eating chocolate
and helping him form new habits that brought him joy.
One of the most effective ways
to break a bad habit is
to do it at the exact moment the habit recurs.
Remember, if we want new change,
we must be determined to break old habits.
You have to erase all traces of the old habit
and find a new habit,
and then practice this habit over
and over until you master it.
How to cut off
about feelings and actions
It is true that if we take enough time to break a habit,
we will have a renewal.
One simple way to break a habit
is to get rid of the feelings associated
with the habit in our minds.
The only reason we get upset is
because we replay things in a certain way in our minds.
if your manager scolds you
and you think about it over
and over again throughout the day,
constantly thinking about you being scolded,
then you will feel worse forever.
Why don’t you get rid of that feeling right from the start?
Why don’t you erase that feeling once and for all?
Please try this experiment.
Think of a situation that made you feel sad,
Now, let’s do the first two steps we learned above.
If you were feeling sad because of your current situation,
how would you like to feel?
Why do you want to feel that way?
What’s stopping you
from feeling the way you want to?
If you could feel differently,
how wonderful would that be?
Now look for a lever.
If you don’t change how you currently feel,
how will you continue to feel?
Do you want to pay that price
and continue to carry these negative feelings
to other people or situations?
If you could change now,
you would feel better.
“You become what you believe.
You are where you are today in your life
based on everything you have believed.”— Oprah Winfrey
Create A Positive New Choice
This fourth step is absolutely critical
to establishing a lasting change.
Indeed, many people fail
to find a way out of misery and into happiness,
largely because people aim for temporary change.
Many people have reached an extreme of suffering
that forces them to change
and they have even broken
through old negative habits.
But then they have nothing new
to replace the old model.
If you’re not sure you can find a way
to disengage yourself from suffering
and find joy in quitting smoking,
or other emotions and attitudes,
you can find the answer
by following an example,
those who have succeeded in making changes
in their regard
to those kinds of practices.
Look for examples that have achieved lasting change;
I assure you that these people have had alternatives
to those old behavior.
Let me tell you an example involving a friend of mine.
His name is Fran Tarkenton.
When Fran and I collaborated on the TV show of self-strength,
he had a habit that really surprised me.
He is always chewing tobacco.
Even when we were sitting in a conference,
Fran would often turn around and spit.
This action creates an unflattering image of a person
of strength and elegance.
Yet he has been in that habit for 20 years.
Fran later told me that
he felt chewing tobacco was the greatest pleasure in his life.
It is your best friend.
But what made him break the habit?
He has found strong leverage for himself.
with a little help from a friend,
he began to realize that
chewing tobacco was completely out of character for him.
It shows that he is not in control of his life and because for Fran,
being in control of his life is the highest value
and the absolute standard that he cannot cancel.
It was extremely painful for him
to be in this situation.
He began to focus his mind on the possibility
of oral cancer.
And he conjured such vivid fantasies that
he soon successfully dismissed the idea of chewing tobacco.
The taste of the medicine began
to make him nauseous.
These images give him a powerful lever that
helps him cut off the association
between tobacco and pleasure.
The next most important secret is that
Fran has found new ways
to achieve pleasure that
are more effective than cigarettes.
He plowed into his business
with all his might
and began to achieve great results that
made his knowledge ware company
one of the most successful computer software companies on Wall Street.
Usually, if we cut old habits,
our minds will automatically find new habits
to replace them with
to provide us with the sensations we desire.
So people who quit smoking often gain weight:
their minds find new ways to create pleasurable sensations
and now they eat more to gain weight.
So the secret here is that we need
to consciously choose new attitudes
or feelings to replace old feelings.
“You know you are on the road
to success if you would do your job,
and not be paid for it.”— Oprah Winfrey
Control New Habits Until Stable
Control is a way of ensuring that a change you make is stable and lasting.
The simplest way to control something is
to repeat it over and over
until it becomes a habit.
If you find a positive option, practice
until it frees you from suffering
and achieves quick gratification.
Your mind will begin to think of this
as a means to a stable outcome.
If you fail to do this,
you will fall back into old habits.
If you repeat this new positive choice
with an intense emotional intensity,
you will create a new path and it will continue
to become an avenue that leads you to results
and becomes a part of your regular behavior.
Remember, your mind cannot distinguish
what you strongly imagine from what you actually experience.
Control ensures that you are automatically on this new path,
causing your old habits to be overcome
and it’s really hard to get back.
And it’s easy to understand that
this new habit-strengthening power
will make progress in controlling it rapidly achieved.
“There’s nothing that practice can’t do.
Nothing is beyond its reach.
It can turn bad attitudes into good ones.
It can destroy bad principles
and re-create new principles;
It can elevate a person
to the level of an angel.” – Mark Twain
The first organizing principle of everything
“Successful Control” is reinforcing power.
To be stable in creating a stable attitude or emotion,
we must develop a habit of control.
A controlling habit
is the result of reinforcement, in particular,
the secret to creating stability in our emotions
and attitudes is controlling them.
The Law of Reinforcement
Any emotional or behavioral pattern that
is continually reinforced becomes an automatic and controlled response.
Any patterns that we fail
to reinforce will disappear.
We can reinforce our own or others’ attitudes
with positive reinforcement,
meaning that every time we create a desired attitude,
we are rewarded possibly a compliment,
a new freedom, etc.
Or we can use negative reinforcement.
It can be an annoyance, a fuss,
maybe even a physical punishment.
It is important for us
to understand that this reinforcement
is not synonymous with punishment or reward.
Reinforcement is responding
to an attitude as soon as it occurs,
while rewards or punishments may occur much later.
Absolutely must time setting the right time is
what will determine the absolute control efficiency.
If a coach shouts
as soon as his team has hit a beautiful ball,
this praise has a far greater impact than he waits
until the game is over to give it.
Why? Because we always want to associate the feeling
with the pattern of action taking place.
One problem our judiciary has is that
when people commit a felony,
they are often not immediately punished.
Their minds may well know the reason for the punishment,
but this pattern of bad behavior is unharmed
it is not prevented,
nor is there suffering attached to it at the moment.
We must train our minds to act effectively,
not by reason but by emotion.
The difficulty is that most of us don’t realize
that we are constantly manipulating each other
and shaping each other’s attitudes.
Often we control others negatively, not positively.
The following story happened
to an ex-boyfriend of my daughter,
Jolie. Jolie is very busy
with her studies,
dancing and a drama
she is about to perform.
Her boyfriend wants her to call him every day
and if she doesn’t call for two or three days,
he makes her suffer terribly.
“It’s only when you make the process your goal
that the big dream can follow.”— Oprah Winfrey
Obviously, he wants her to call more often,
but the way he acts makes her annoyed and upset every time she calls.
Do you ever feel guilty about this?
If you want your girlfriend,
or someone close to you
to call you on a regular basis,
do you think this friend will be effective in forcing them to call you?
And when they call,
do you greet them with something like,
“Oh, so you finally called. Will it continue?
Why do you always have to call me?”
Your actions are actually slowly making
the other person stop calling you!
You’re causing him pain right
after he’s done everything he can to please you.
As a result,
he or she will see calling you no longer as fun,
but as torture.
And as you might have guessed,
that kind of negative reinforcement permeates every aspect
of the relationship
and can lead to the end of the relationship.
If you really want someone to call you,
then every time they call,
you have to respond
with gleeful amusement
If you tell them how much you miss them,
how much you love them,
how grateful you are to talk to them,
they will certainly be willing to call you back.
Remember to associate enjoyment
with the attitude you want others to repeat.
Set a schedule for strengthening
so that innovation can last
When you are starting
to establish a new pattern of behavior or emotion,
it is paramount that you strengthen yourself
or the person involved.
Initially, each time you want
to perform the desired behavior pattern
(for example, push a tray full of food on it),
you need to be conscious of the reinforcement
of satisfaction associated
with that action.
However, if from then on,
every time you take an action,
you reinforce it,
then the action won’t be as effective
as it once was.
Since I promised myself
to always help those in need,
every time I go through the airports,
I give money to the beggars.
I will never forget
that man who always stood begging at a fixed place
at an airport that I often went to.
Every time I pass by that place,
I give him money.
I was in a hurry and didn’t have any money in my pocket.
When I passed him,
I smiled and said:
“Hi, sorry I don’t have any money in my pocket today!”.
He was angry
because I no longer gave him money like
I gave him
and he used to feel very happy every time I gave.
We need to remember
that the element of pleasant surprise
is a very pleasurable experience that people can have.
It is much more important than we think.
That’s why, if you want a lasting behavior,
you need to understand
and use a method called scheduling for the reinforcement of a habit.
Let’s look at an example of dolphin training.
Initially, to train dolphins to jump,
people waited for the dolphins to jump up automatically.
They observe an animal’s right action and reward it with a fish.
And every time the dolphin voluntarily jumps,
it is rewarded with a fish,
gradually it understands that if it jumps,
it will get a fish.
However, later the trainer only rewarded the dolphin if it jumped higher.
By raising the bar,
the trainer can shape the dolphin’s attitude.
The focus is this:
If every time the dolphin jumps,
it gets rewarded,
it gets used to it and won’t be 100 percent efficient.
So in the future,
the dolphin will sometimes be rewarded for the first time,
sometimes the second time,
sometimes the fifth time.
It won’t be sure which jump is rewarded.
This makes it always have to try their best.
Rewards should never be taken for granted.
The situation is similar with gamblers.
Once they have gambled will make them happy
and associate this joy with their winning
and it stimulates them
to always gamble with expectation.
have that joy.
And the reward is always like bait
to keep them going.
In contrast, a gambler
who never gets any money will eventually give up playing.
This is similar
to the reaction of employees
when receiving a regular salary every month.
If they get the same fixed amount of salary every month,
they will try at least just enough
to get the salary without any surprises.
On the contrary,
if in addition to salary,
they sometimes enjoy other surprises,
such as bonuses,
then they will put their maximum effort into their work
so that they can enjoy the surprises they like that animal.
It is important that these unexpected occasions be real,
or else it will again become familiar and ineffective.
“Dream the biggest dream for yourself.
Hold the highest vision of life for yourself.”— Oprah Winfrey
We have learned the five steps of forming and managing new habits.
There is only a sixth step left to test
to see if it will work in the future.
Here’s a simple quiz to help you make sure
your new pattern of action is effective,
relevant, and long-lasting.
“You have the RIGHT to change your mind.”— Oprah Winfrey
*TEST FOR EFFICIENCY*
1. Be sure to completely link suffering with the old pattern.
When you think about your old attitudes or emotions,
do you picture and feel now that they are causing you pain instead of happiness?
2. Be sure to fully associate satisfaction with the new template.
When you think of new attitudes or emotions,
do you picture and feel that these are the things
that are now bringing joy instead of suffering?
3. Compare your values, beliefs and rules.
Do the new attitudes or emotions align with your values,
beliefs, and rules in life?
(We will discuss this in a later chapter.)
4. Make sure the benefits of the old attitude are preserved.
Will the new attitudes or emotions still allow you to enjoy the benefits
and pleasures you once had in the old pattern?
5. Future progress.
Imagine you are demonstrating a new attitude in the future.
Figure out what might push you to accept the old stereotype.
Feel sure that you can use the new template
instead of the old one.
The six steps of association management can be used for anything:
and yelling at your children,
you worrying too much about things you have no control over.
How can you use the six controls above to change this negative pattern?
1) Ask yourself “What do I want to do instead of worrying?”
2) Find yourself leverage and realize what anxiety destroys in your life.
3) Break that negative stereotype!
Whenever you’re worried,
cut that pattern right away.
4) Find a positive option.
What would you do instead of worrying?
Open your journal
and write down the plan you’re going to implement right away.
5) New template control.
Visualize vividly and practice this new pattern
with intense emotion
until this new thought, attitude,
and emotion becomes automatic.
Reinforce this habit by taking the first step:
Check to see that you are consistently successful.
6) Test to see if it has a lasting effect.
Think of a situation that used to worry you
and find a way to get rid of the anxiety in that situation.