As spring blossoms and summer beckons, bloggers just wanna have fun. At least this blogger does. I may be in a protracted adolescence here, but that's what this time of year does to my psyche. So, in the spirit of fun, pleasure, and leisure, I invite you to savor the lengthening days and ask yourself this:
"How could I use fun and pleasure to change a habit for the better?"
Of course, you can always give yourself a reward for changing. But what about adding some fun to the process of change itself? Fellow PT blogger Kelly McGonigal puts it this way: "Dopaminize it!" In other words, make the process of changing pleasurable in itself. If you do, your brain will reward you by releasing some of that good ol' feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, making you that much more motivated to change. (Appropriately enough, Kelly's blog is subtitled, "The Secrets of Self-Control Without Suffering.")
To inspire you, here are the most delightful examples of using fun and pleasure to get healthier that I could find on short notice, topping it all off with the amazing video in example 7:
1. Ring the bell for "Instant Recess." "Instant Recess," an idea from a coalition of 20 health-oriented organizations, is a daily 10-minute exercise break that could be incorporated into any work setting, given a willing boss and colleagues. For a description of one work group's routine, click here. Of course, your Instant Recess could be any physical activity your colleagues would enjoy--dancing, pilates, tai chi. If you dislike group exercise, use Instant Recess time to take yourself for a quiet 10-minute stroll.
2. Use music as motivation. To get yourself to clean the house or pull weeds, there's nothing like combining music and motion. It works on the treadmill, too, of course. Research shows that people will exercise longer and harder with music. So move your feet to your favorite beat!
3. Try workplace yoga. Rachel Hayward, a project coordinator at Beyond Words Publishing, a company that specializes in books about personal and global transformation, leads the staff in a voluntary 15-minute session of yoga every morning. Maybe that's why even a routine business call to Beyond Words makes me feel relaxed and renewed.
4. Find the humor. Find it and incorporate some into that assignment or habit change you're working on. The kick of finding the humor in your task could give you the impetus to finish that report or improve it. Maybe someone will even read it now that it's funnier.
5. Let your unconscious mind do the work. Take a break. But first, tell your unconscious mind to get busy solving your work problem while you play tennis, take a nap, or stroll in the park. I don't know how or why this process works so well, but it does.
6. Change your mindset from "work" to "fun." If you perceive a habit change as "an opportunity to have fun" rather than sheer work, you'll be more successful at changing. See the research here.
7. Take the stairs! This video takes the cake for the most delightful way ever of enticing people to take the stairs instead of the escalator. Just watching it floods my brain with dopamine.
OK, OK, you can't install a full-scale keyboard on your home stairs. But you could adapt this idea by making the stairways at work or home pleasant places to be--post short poems or jokes, pipe in music, hang good artwork, and change it up from time to time.
How could you use pleasure, fun, and leisure to light up your path toward habit change right now? What healthy habit changes have you or someone else made in the past that were enjoyable and entertaining?
(c) Meg Selig
If you got fun and pleasure from this blog, you might enjoy my Facebook author page here; please click "Like." You can also follow me on Twitter. My book, Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success, is available here.