Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exactly! There's games up there and books and...

I think I will give you some more of the backstory in my next post (yay, something to look forward to), but here I will just try to simplify it.

I started listening to podcasts this summer. I discovered that there are tons of totally free podcasts that can be downloaded on iTunes, and they are on all kinds of topics. So I have tried out quite a variety of podcasts, and I have some definite favorites.

Favorite #1: the Smart People Podcast. There are two guys (Chris and Jon) who get together and interview all kinds of smart people. Generally the people that they are interviewing have written a book, and so they get background, further insights, explanations, etc. So far, I've listened to interviews with Mike Rose (a big name in education), Gary Chapman (author of the 5 love languages), Bill Poundstone, and several others.

One of the interviews I listened to recently was with Kerry Patterson who wrote a book called Change Anything.

Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success

The first thing that Patterson explained in the interview is that we -- people, all people -- think that change is based on willpower. I eat the chocolate doughnut because I have no willpower or I don't because my willpower is so strong. Patterson said that all the research shows that this idea of willpower is false. People who are able to change use a lot of other skills in order to do so.

Well, that got me fascinated. And I'll explain why.

If you know me, or maybe even if you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I have food issues. When I have to eat with other people, the same thing happens over and over and over. I explain my food issues as simply as possible, and they say, "Oh I could never do that!" "Oh, I could never give up bread!" "Oh, I could never give up cheese!"

When I first went gluten-free, I used to think, yes you could. If you were as sick as I was you would.

And then I started meeting people who didn't. People who were as sick or sicker, and still didn't stop eating gluten.

And then I thought, well, maybe it is just me. Maybe I'm wired differently. Maybe food isn't as important to me (yeah, right). Maybe it's because I live alone. Maybe I'm too obedient.

So I was fascinated by the ideas Patterson shared in the interview, and I went and checked out the book from the library (Oh, did you seriously think that this wasn't a book review?).

The Book: Ok, so Patterson and his colleagues start off explaining the bit about willpower. Fascinating stuff. And then they explain the Six Sources of Influence, how we are always impacted by them and how we can use them to our benefit. There are a lot of really specific examples throughout, and a lot of ideas about how you can apply the ideas to your specific situation. In the third part of the book, they give specific examples about applying changes to different areas -- careers, weight loss, addiction, and relationships.

The Review: I read the entire book in about 3 hours (and it only took that long because I was also doing laundry, cooking, and seasoning my wok). It was really interesting and a really easy read.

So when I started and got the full explanation of change not being just about willpower, I was feeling a little like, bummer, so I'm not as fabulous as I thought I was for making all these dramatic dietary and life changes to get healthy? But as I continued reading, I could see how the 6 sources of influence played a role. So one of the influences is social (actually a lot of the influences connected with the forces discussed in Sway), and for me my family became "friends" rather than "accomplices." I knew they were expecting me to keep to the diet and they were helpful in a lot of ways. Even just by saying "that's not Emily food," I stopped entertaining the idea of eating it.

Now I have two (more) goals that came to mind as I was reading. So I have to decide where those fall on my priority list and if I will get to them next month (meaning Monday) or if I will wait another month.

Oh, and the final word on the review: This book was totally awesome. If you are working on any big goals or little goals, I would highly recommend it.

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