Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been recommending the same book to clients…over, and over. One might believe that it’s because it’s the first book that comes to mind, or because I’m in the habit of reading only a few books a year (which all might be true!), but the more accurate reason is that I’ve realized that this book seems to be relevant for so many individuals that I work with. The book I’m referring to is called “The Happiness Trap”, by Russ Harris. It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and is an easy to digest, relatable, and research supported book that helps individuals better notice and distance from their unhelpful thought patterns, while moving towards actions that align with their values. Plus, it has countless examples and exercises that you can (and ideally will!) use to practice these very helpful tools. The first chapter is available for free online, so check it out and see if you think it could help direct you towards a more helpful and meaningful way of thinking and acting: The Happiness Trap - Introduction and Chapter One.
We all have things in our life we know we really should do but have difficulty doing. Exercise, going to the doctor, writing a thank you card… So, we either try to push ourselves to get them done through sheer willpower or we pretend they aren’t that important anyways or that we’ll get around to them when we have enough time. Well they are important. And you do have enough time (think about your TV watching or internet surfing hours). It’s just hard to get motivated to do some things, and often these tend to be important things for our health or well-being. That’s why Katherine Milkman, Associate Professor of Operations, Information & Decisions at The University of Pennsylvania, decided to devote her career to the study of human behavior and how to make behavior change stick. In this Freakonomics episode, When willpower isn’t enough, she presents a great tool called “temptation bundling” in which you pair a behavior you are highly motivated to do with a behavior you have little motivation to do. And, she finds that if you do this you’ll have better chances of doing those good for you but not so enticing behaviours! For example, you might decide to only watch your favorite TV shows at the gym (like she does) or reward yourself with a day off of work when you finally get your mammogram. I started only listening to my favorite podcasts while running and it works to keep me more motivated!