Changing your behavior is hard.
Luckily, there is a lot science can tell us about how to go about it in a way that gives you the best chance of success.
Anyone who is trying to change their behavior without understanding this science needs to stop, now. Read up on the science. Learn to do it the more effective way.
Then, start again, with better strategies, and create the life you’ve always wanted.
Here’s the other thing you should know: behavior change is hard. Not hard like algebra; hard like piano. You will work on it for “a while” before you get to that dream-life.
What is “a while”? Years.
But that’s okay. The secret of self-development is that everybody has to work hard and put in a lot of work. We’re all together in that.
It just so happens that here at Fierce Gentleman we believe that every man is destined for greatness. So, below we give you a few of the keys that have made the biggest difference in our own lives: 10 scientific keys you need to put your life on a much better track in the future.
Of course, information alone does not lead to life change. (That’s one of the keys.)
But never before has so much high-quality, scientifically-validated information been available for free, to anyone, to get their path started.
You need to learn the information. Then you need to translate it into action.
10 Scientific Keys to Change Any Behavior
- Willpower is weak. Environmental influences are much more important than willpower. (1,2)
- Information does not lead to action. Emotions lead to action. (Tweet this) This one is harder to back up with scientific studies, but it has long been my personal experience….over 8 years of studying both my own behavior, and the behavior of others who I’m trying to help. Information allows us to know in which direction we can go, but ultimately, emotions motivate us to take action. See also (2)
- The Internet destroys your ability to focus. Unless you’re reading long-form articles or serious journalism. But if you’re using the Internet like most people, it’s eroding your attentional abilities.
- Facebook makes you unhappy. Delete your account (unless you’re using it for business.) (3)
- Today’s processed foods are engineered to flood the reward centers of your brain, and potentially trigger food addictions that will wreck your health and wellbeing. Eat vegetables instead. (4,5)
- Exercise makes your brain bigger. It also gives you more self-control, lifts depression, and stamps out anxiety. (6)
- Meditation makes your brain bigger. It also gives you more self-control, lifts depression, and stamps out anxiety. Because of how important this is, we built a 30-day program that trains you daily to build a meditation habit daily. It’s the easiest way to build a 20-minute a day habit. (7)
- Give up alcohol. The breakdown of alcohol in your body creates toxins that cause cancer. It is also extra calories that will contribute to extra fat storage. The additional toxic load can make you sick. And drinking and driving (or just being out around other drunk drivers) can kill you. Give up alcohol. Our buddy James Swanwick has a great program for doing just this which you can check out here (affiliate link). (10)
- Take time off work. Overwork drains your willpower and makes you stressed and sick. (We speak from personal experience.) Take targeted time off work for active recovery, rest and relaxation. Here is a list of 14 healthy habits that will help you recover.
- Maximize neurotransmitters oxytocin, GABA and serotonin. Minimize activities that have you chasing the dopamine dragon. Activities that stimulate dopamine: shopping, gambling, pornography, binge eating. Activities that stimulate serotonin, oxytocin & GABA: getting a massage, swing in a hammock, spending time with loved ones, meditating, praying, listening to music, reading. (See The Willpower Instinct.)
That’s enough for most people to start with. If you’re ready for more –
Each of the 23 principles could be a textbook in its own right, given the amount of research that has been done in that area — and there is much, much more to be said about how to actually implement changes using these principles in your own life.
But the information is out there. There is enough knowledge freely available to completely change your life and make it into whatever you wish — if you are able to take action.
As I used to say when I was working with adult students, “There are tons of ways to be an F student, but only a few ways to be an A student.”
Whenever I study another person who is really achieving greatness in life, I see them doing one of a small number of very similar things.
If you do the things they do, you will be much more likely to get the results they get.
The above list (and the ebook with the full 23 principles) is comprised of research from dozens of books and research articles on the subject of willpower, habit formation, interpersonal neurobiology, and cognitive science, and drawn from my own experience of being involved at the ground-level of helping other people change their patterns, habits, and lives for over 7 years.
If you’re interested in further reading, see the excellent books, articles and presentations below.
- The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Review this brief presentation on Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
- Paper The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self Control; see also studies by Baba Shiv at Stanford
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
- The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
- Facebook Use Predicts Decline in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults
- Evidence for sugar addiction
- Daily bingeing on sugar releases dopamine
- Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey
- A whole host of studies on how meditation increases cortical thickness
- Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004; Burnkrat & Howards, 1984; Hotgraves & Yang, 1990; Sheldon et all 2003.
- Literature review of effects of sleep deprivation on decision making
We’ll send you the latest article every Sunday. Click here to get Fierce Gentleman in your inbox.
Also published on Medium.