The most interesting thing that I discovered about habits was how you can easily create new ones. Well, I must admit that when I say easily I say it quite loosely, because creating new habits is actually far from easy when you really get down to the brass tacks of it. According to research, the theory of it only taking around 21 days to create a new habit is absolute horseshit. It actually takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit, and that's the average so some people can require 100's of days to form a new habit, so it's safe to say that my theory of change taking substantial time is actually factual, so I was always right about that.
However, what I did find fascinating was the fact that managing our compulsions for instant gratification was a major factor in the success of our new habit creations. Basically, if you can focus on the long term benefits and not the short term gratification, then you are more likely to create good habits that will set you up for a better life. How do I know this? Well, a Harvard study was done on 1,000 four year old children in the 1970's where they gave each child one marshmallow and told them that they could eat it right away. However, the children were also told that if they could leave the marshmallow alone and wait whilst the tester left the room, then when the tester returned they could have two marshmallows. These children were all middle class children without any known external factors or diagnosis that may affect results; and their results were recorded.
The children were called back 40 years later as adults approaching their mid-life, and questioned about their lifestyles. All of the adults that had eaten the first marshmallow as a child and sought instant gratification had lower incomes, less employment opportunities due to their lower academic performance and had in many cases suffered from more marital and parenting problems and had a higher percentage of issues around substance abuse and alcoholism than the group that had waited for their second marshmallow as kids.
So what does all of this mean? That if you eat the marshmallow at four then you're doomed to a life of less? No, of course it doesn't! It means that if you know that you are an instant gratification kind of a person, then you will need to work a lot harder to maintain good habits and also conscientiously teach yourself to modify your impulses and focus on the long term greater good. Which basically means that YOLO isn't going to cut it if you want to get the best out of your life.
The good news is that no-one is a hopeless case and that anyone can make their lives better and adopt better habits. The secret is that by making bad habits harder to get to and good habits more rewarding, you can trick your brain into wanting to do more of the good stuff. For example, if what you want to achieve is more exercise then only let yourself watch your favourite show or listen to your really exciting novel or podcast when you are exercising. Or, if you want to stop drinking as much wine in the evening then make it harder to access by not having it the house ready to go, or putting in shitty tasks that you have to do to get that wine like doing two loads of laundry or picking up dog shit in the yard first and you will soon associate the wine with crappy feelings. Sounds pretty simple, but it's not because remember that you need to do it for around 66 days or more before your brain kicks into gear and accepts it as a new habit or lifestyle change.
So, yeah, it isn't really easy to make awesome or new habits, but the really great news is that it is never impossible. According to the habit book, you are literally never too old to create new and better habits in your life, so my best advice is to commit to a long term good habit and then just get a hustle on for goodness sake! There is no better time than right now!
Release Date: 2013
Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 138 mins
Directed by David Russell, this 70's crime romp based on an actual FBI undercover investigation, is a magnificent mix of madness, comedy and deception. Rife with flamboyantly dressed criminals and speckled with fabulous '70's hits, this movie is a winner from start to end, mostly due to the faultless delivery of its strong and capable cast.
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his seductive scamming partner (Amy Adams) are forced to assist an arrogant FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) with his plans to expose a group of New Jersey power-brokers and the mafia through the corrupt connections of Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).
Basically it's con-artists, criminals and Feds uncomfortably rubbing shoulders, and it's not a pretty sight. Bale, Renner and Cooper have fully committed to their hideously funny roles and Adams and Lawrence are bringing their best in every respect. This may be the most fun that I have had with a crime drama in a very long time, it's unmissable.
FINAL SAY: You're nothing to me until you're everything.
4.5 Chilli Peppers