We tend to value the present more than we do the future. James Clear says it in Atomic Habits, but any given therapist at our practice in Jupiter sees it in many patients, and you may even recognize it in your own life. Why would we smoke if in the future we know that it can cause lung cancer? Quite simply, smoking at the moment helps us to feel relaxed and less stressed. As humans, it is difficult for us to think about our future selves being healthy and fit because today if we are going to start exercising and eating no junk food, we want to see the results in the present, not the future. Apparently, there is a Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is immediately rewarded is repeated and what is immediately punished is avoided. Sound familiar?
The thing is, we all know that delaying gratification is really the best approach, and believe it or not, we can train our brains to delay gratification. In fact, it's an approach many therapists take with patients through cognitive behavioral therapy. We also need to appreciate, however, the fact that we also enjoy instant gratification. So read on.
Giving up drinking for a month or cutting back on spending feels like a sacrifice because when we skip a few happy hours. We can feel like we are missing out and are not really benefiting from not drinking. Therefore, we need to make a habit or behavior change to feel successful so that we continue. So what can we do? Well, say you want to start traveling outside of just Jupiter but have given up drinking. Every time you want to buy alcohol you can put the money in a fund called “traveling” instead.
Another example could be your therapist recommending you say one gratitude statement to your partner every day. "Gamify" it by keeping a "gratitude streak with your partner. Keep it going until showing each other appreciation becomes a regular part of your lives that brings you closer together. The more we do this, we get to see it grow, making us feel satisfied and want to continue repeating the behaviors. So give it a try.
Ever seen the streaks on Wordle or Snapchat where we participate daily so that we keep up with our streaks? Believe it or not, we can use the same method when trying to engage in a new behavior or habit. Say if you are wanting to go to the gym, use the cardio machine and lift weights. Journaling how much cardio and lifting you were able to achieve, you will start seeing improvements over time. Want to lose weight, then write in a journal how much food you have consumed during the day. It'll help you realize how much you are actually eating, as our brain often forgets about snacking during the day.
The important thing is that as we learn about these tips and tricks, it helps to make engaging in our new habits or behaviors easier. It creates a sense of accomplishment and gets us closer to our own life goals.
While it's not impossible to achieve by yourself, working with a therapist can help you achieve the habits you want sooner and help maintain them long-term. If you are in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, or elsewhere in Palm Beach County, consider Clarity Health Solutions. We are a group of passionate therapists who work to inspire people to live life intentionally through healthy thought patterns and behaviors.
If you are ready to reach the life you want through healthy habits, give us a call at 561-781-3333 today.