Week 4: Module 5: The 4th sin, habit and exercise

Week 4: Module 5: The 4th sin, habit and exercise

“The 4th Sin: Being Overly Control Seeking…Why Being Overly Controlling of Others Lowers Happiness…Why Being Overly Controlling of Outcomes Lowers Happiness…The Desirability for Control (DC) and Maximizer Scales…Taking Personal Responsibility for Happiness…Obstacles to Taking Personal Responsibility…Internal and External Control as Compensatory Forces…Learning Simple Emotion Regulation Strategies…Appreciating Uncertainty and Lack of Control…The Importance of Leading a Healthier Lifestyle…Do’s and Don’ts of a Healthier Lifestyle…The 4th Exercise: The Healthy Lifestyle Exercise…Summary of the Week…”
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Summaries

  • The 4th Sin: Being Overly Control Seeking
  • Why Being Overly Controlling of Others Lowers Happiness
  • Why Being Overly Controlling of Outcomes Lowers Happiness
  • The Desirability for Control (DC) and Maximizer Scales
  • Taking Personal Responsibility for Happiness
  • Obstacles to Taking Personal Responsibility
  • Internal and External Control as Compensatory Forces
  • Learning Simple Emotion Regulation Strategies
  • Appreciating Uncertainty and Lack of Control
  • The Importance of Leading a Healthier Lifestyle
  • Do's and Don'ts of a Healthier Lifestyle
  • The 4th Exercise: The Healthy Lifestyle Exercise
  • Summary of the Week

The 4th Sin: Being Overly Control Seeking

  • Most of us have experienced other people’s attempts at trying to control us.
  • If we’re truly honest with ourselves, our own attempts to control them.
  • If you’re married, I’m pretty sure that at some point you will have wanted to control your spouse’s behavior.
  • You might have thought to yourself and try to control his eating behavior.
  • If by some miracle, neither you nor your spouse wanted to control each other, you might have wanted to control your kid’s behavior.
  • You might have thought and tried to control their social behavior.
  • Of course, our desire for control doesn’t stop with our spouses or our kids, most of us want to control the others in our lives as well.
  • Why, oh why can’t people see how wise and well-meaning I am, and just obey me instead of doing things their way? Apart from wanting to control others, most of us also have the desire to control outcomes.
  • We want to control the temperature in our room, the TV channels that we watch, the kinds of tasks that we get to work on in our jobs and pretty much everything else in-between.
  • Why do we have such a strong desire to control the external environment? That is, control other people and the outcomes that occur to us.
  • One reason is because we do better, both emotionally and physically, when we are in control.
  • In one study, which was done with rats, the experimenters gave these rats control over when they got to have coke.
  • In another study conducted with human participants this time, residents at an old age home, one set of residents was given control over some choices they made.
  • Another set of participants was not given control over these choices.
  • It turned out that having control over these seemingly trivial decisions, which plans to have and which movies to watch, had a significant effect on these residents emotional health and longevity.
  • The residents who had control over these decisions were far happier than those who did not, specifically nearly half.
  • 48% of those who were given control over their decisions reported becoming happier after the experiment started.
  • Whereas only 25% of the group that were not given control reported becoming happier.
  • What was even more striking in the study was that the residents who had control over the decisions actually lived longer on average, than those who did not have control.
  • So given how important control is to our mental and physical well being, it shouldn’t be surprising that many of us seek to control others and to control outcomes.
  • To some extent, it turns out that the desire to control others and outcomes are actually a good thing.
  • Findings show, for example that those with a greater desire for control tend to aim higher in life.
  • At the same time what’s also very clear is that there is a limit to how much we can control other people and outcomes.
  • As life often reminds us, we can’t control other people and outcomes all the time.
  • Seeking control beyond this point can be detrimental to our happiness levels.
  • First, how do we figure out what’s the ideal level of control seeking? The second question is, exactly how does being overly controlling lower happiness levels? And those are the questions to which I will turn in the next few videos.

Why Being Overly Controlling of Others Lowers Happiness

  • For the sake of simplicity, we can think of this sin of being overly controlling as coming in two main varieties.
  • First is the variety of being overly controlling of other people.
  • The second is being overly controlling of outcomes.
  • Let me first focus on why being overly controlling of other people lowers our happiness levels.
  • The first reason has to do with the simple fact that just as we have a desire to control others, others have a desire not to feel controlled by us.
  • When you seek to control others, others exhibit psychological reactants against it.
  • Your attempt to control your kids to finish their homework, may be met with grumpiness or sulking, or other types of unpleasant behaviors that make it very clear to you that they do not like to be controlled.
  • You can’t have both, and since love was such a fundamental need for us, as we saw last week, being overly controlling is not good for happiness.
  • A related reason, why being overly controlling lowers happiness, has to do with what David McClelland, the well known motivational psychologist, call power stress, which is the tendency to get angry and frustrated when others don’t behave like you want them to.
  • When the confederates acted positive and supportive, both those high and low need for power is controlled feel quite happy, obviously right? What’s not to like about when the audience is supportive? The interesting difference between the two groups occurred when the confederates behaved negatively.
  • That’s the second reason why being overly controlling of others lowers happiness levels.
  • The third reason why being overly controlling of others is not good for happiness has to do with the quality of the decisions you make.
  • When you’re overly controlling of others, what’s likely is that you only have people around you who will put up with you being controlling.
  • That is, people who don’t mind being controlled, the yeah-sayers.
  • In other words, when you’re overly controlling, you’ll likely drive away those who have an independent mind and have a sort of independent thoughts and set of ideas.
  • This means that when you’re overly controlling, your decision making is likely to suffer.
  • So for all these reasons, one, people don’t like to be controlled, and so, they won’t cooperate with you or they won’t like you if you’re overly controlling, which, of course, will lower your happiness.
  • Three, even if you do manage to control others, your decision making will suffer as a result of being overly controlling.
  • Being overly controlling is really not a good thing for your happiness.
  • The fact that being overly controlling lowers happiness levels doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and influence or persuade others.
  • Seeking some degree of control or influence over other people is actually a good thing.
  • If seeking control over others can be good, but being only controlling is not, then the question is, how do you know if you’re being overly controlling or not? And how can you find out if your level of control seeking is at the ideal level in the mid point? Before I get to this question, let me finish discussing another way by which we exhibit the desire for control, by being overly controlling of outcomes.

Why Being Overly Controlling of Outcomes Lowers Happiness

  • In the last video, I discussed some reasons why being overly controlling of others lowers happiness levels.
  • Being overly controlling of outcomes doesn’t mean being really keen on achieving the outcomes that you desire.
  • You cross the line into being overly controlling if you become obsessed with a particular outcome.
  • When the desire to achieve that outcome starts to control you, rather than you being in control of your desire to achieve the outcome.
  • As you can probably tell, there’s no real clear dividing line between being appropriately control-seeking and being overly control-seeking.
  • Ultimately, only you, or maybe perhaps those who are really close to you and know you really well, can tell whether you’re being overly control-seeking in a particular situation or not.
  • I’ll get back to how you can figure out whether you’re being overly control-seeking shortly.
  • Let me turn my attention to why being overly controlling of outcomes lowers happiness levels.
  • Nice tune, huh? But more than the tune, I like the message in the song, which is that the stuff life throws at you can be difficult to control.
  • Given how capricious and uncertain life can be, it’s obvious that you would be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment if you want to control everything in your life.
  • One study from the paper that you now see on the screen, for example, showed that people high in need for control become more uncomfortable and unhappy when the room that they are in becomes overcrowded, compared to people who are low in control.
  • Why? Because being in such a room, an overcrowded room makes this high need for control people feel that life isn’t going according to how they would like it to.
  • Findings from another study, the one that you now see on the screen, found that salespeople were more dissatisfied and performed worse, that is, sold less, when the desired level of control in the interaction that they were having with the customer was lower than they wanted it to be.
  • Conducted in Japan, found that when people are put in situations in which they have lower control than they desire, their blood pressure shoots up.
  • Given all these findings, you would expect that people high in desire for control would be less happy than those low in desire for control, particularly when life isn’t going according to plan.
  • In the paper that you now see on your screen, researchers found that people high desire for control but low in perceived control, that is, how much control they think they have in their life, are more likely to be depressed than those low in desire for control and high in perceived control.
  • Or for that matter, those high in desire for control and high in perceived control.
  • A big reason why being overly controlling lowers happiness levels is because it makes you feel frustrated and angry, disappointed, and perhaps even depressed when life doesn’t go according to plan.
  • Okay, so that’s one reason why being overly controlling of outcomes lowers happiness levels.
  • Findings show that you’re likely to take more risks, and are also likely to become more superstitious in stressful situations, if your desire for control is very high.
  • In one study researchers found that those high in desire for control expressed higher willingness to drive more rashly.
  • Another study found, in gambling contexts involving real wins and losses, those with a higher desire for control are likely to believe that they have more control over outcomes than they actually do.
  • These high desires for control participants were likely to wager higher amounts.
  • A third study showed that when you’re high in desire for control, you’re more likely to believe in superstitions, for example that knocking on wood will ward off bad luck, when you’re put under stress.
  • Why does a desire for control turn people to become more superstitious? It seems that this is due to the desire to compensate for the lack of control.
  • If you desire a high level of control, but you’re put under stress, you don’t have a high level of control.
  • You want to wrest control over the situation, and superstitions make people believe that they have more control over a situation than they actually do.
  • There’s another reason why being overly controlling of outcomes lowers happiness levels.
  • When you want to control something really, really badly, say you want to get a particular job, you’re likely to become obsessed about it.
  • To summarize, there are at least three reasons why being overly controlling lowers your happiness levels.
  • First, the outcomes that we experience are often not under our control.

The Desirability for Control (DC) and Maximizer Scales

  • The first scale taps directly into your desire for control.
  • It’s called the Desirability of Control Scale, and it was developed by a researcher named Burger, who is a psychologist now at the University of California in Santa Clara.
  • The second scale is something that’s called the Maximizer-Satisficer scale, or I simply call it the Maximizer scale for short.
  • I will get to what this scale measures and how it leads to the desired control in a little bit.
  • Let’s talk about the Desirability of Control Scale.
  • This scale has 20 items; needless to say, you want to be totally and absolutely honest, as you’re responding to each item.
  • Now that you have filled out the Desirability of Control Scale, let me have you fill out the other scale, which is the Maximize Scale.
  • The Maximize Scale measures the maximize mindset and has ten items.
  • Once again, needless to say, you want to be totally and absolutely honest as you’re responding to the items on the scale.
  • Now that you’ve filled out both the Desirability for Control and the Maximize scale, take a look at both scores side-by-side.
  • I would say that you’re definitely overly controlling if your score on the Desirability of Control Scale is over 120, and your score on the Maximize Scale is over 50.
  • You are most likely overly controlling if you score on the Desirability of Control scale is over 120, and your score on the Maximize Scale is somewhere between 35 and 50.
  • Or, if your score on the Desirability of Control Scale is over 110, between 110 and 120, and your score on the Maximize Scale are over 50.
  • Finally, I would say that you’re probably overly controlling if you score on the Desirability of Control Scale is over 110 and below 120, and your score on the Maximizer-Satisficer Scale is over 35 and below 50.
  • On the flip side, you’re likely to be below the ideal point of control-seeking if your score in the Desirability of Control Scale is less than 80, particularly if you also scored below 25 or so on the Maximize Scale.
  • Your low control-seeking tendencies, if you happen to fall into that group, are also likely to cause a problem, particularly in situations in which you’re forced to take control, or you have a high perceived level of control.

Taking Personal Responsibility for Happiness

  • I also had you fill out the desire for control and maximize of mindsets skills.
  • A lot depends on how much perceived control you have.
  • If you’re high in desire for control and you perceive to have a high degree of control that would actually mean that you’re okay.
  • Again, a lot depends on how much perceived control you have.
  • If you have low levels of perceived control and you desire low levels of control, then you are likely to be okay.
  • There’s a separate scale that researchers use to assess people’s perceived level of controls.
  • In the reference section for this week, I have listed a couple of papers that have perceived control scales.
  • That is you have a high desire for control, and you’re sense of perceived control is comparatively relatively low.
  • Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Happiness means never blaming others, or the external circumstances, for how you feel.
  • It means having the ability to regulate how you feel inside of your head. It means wearing a t-shirt that says, no matter what the weather outside is, the weather in my head is always sunny.
  • If you end up taking up the idea and making a t-shirt, please don’t forget to mail me one, okay? Now, before I tell you how to take personal responsibility for your happiness, and how this can help you get rid of, or at least mitigate this tendency to be overly controlling, let me tell you a story.
  • Researchers have long known that our imaginations, or more generally our thoughts, influence our feelings.
  • One set of researchers looked at the typical set of thoughts that produce various types of emotional states.
  • They asked a bunch of participants to write about an event that made them feel angry.
  • They asked another bunch of participants to write about an event that made them feel sad. They asked a third bunch of participants to write about an event that made them feel anxious and so on.
  • So you feel angry when you believe that someone, or something, is stopping you from achieving a cherished, desired goal.
  • Sadness is usually preceded by the thought that something valuable is missing or lost.
  • Anxiety is typically preceded by thoughts of being uncertain or out of control.
  • On the positive side too, different thought patterns trigger different kinds of feelings.
  • On the other hand, when you attribute a success to someone else’s doing, or to luck, you feel grateful.
  • The fact that different emotions are preceded by different sets of thought means that you can change, or control or regulate, your feelings by controlling your thoughts.
  • For example, rather than feeling angry at your boss for failing to give you a raise, you could actually feel grateful towards him for not firing you.
  • Of course, you may not always want to regulate your feelings.
  • Or you may want to feel sad, because your good friend is going through a breakup.
  • If you’re like me, I’m sure there are many instances when you would like to feel differently from how you are currently feeling.
  • In these types of situations, I think it would be really useful to be able to take control of our feelings and thoughts.
  • That’s where Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Happiness comes in.
  • It has to do with developing the skills required to regulate your emotions, and to take control of your feelings.
  • How do you achieve this ability to control your feelings? That’s the question to which I want to turn in the next video.
  • Before I do that, let me quickly point out that Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Happiness, that is taking control over your feelings, is not the same thing as trying to control others or trying to control outcomes.
  • When you’re overly controlling of other people or outcomes, you’re trying to control the external environment.
  • When you take control of your own thoughts and feelings, you’re doing the opposite.
  • You’re taking control of your internal environment.
  • When you’re trying to control the external environment, you’re essentially handing the keys to your happiness to the external environment, to other people or to outcomes.
  • When you take control of the internal environment, you’re doing the opposite.

Obstacles to Taking Personal Responsibility

  • It means seeking to have the ability to regulate your own emotions and feelings.
  • What if you break your leg, or lose your job is it even possible to remain happy, and in control of your emotions, if something terrible like that were to happen? The answer is, at least theoretically, it’s possible to be in full control of your feelings.
  • As we saw earlier, our feelings are determined by our thoughts.
  • If we change our thought patterns, our feelings are naturally going to change.
  • This is also why the same event, for example, failure to get a job can evoke such different feelings in different people.
  • We can change our feelings by changing our thoughts.
  • Just because it’s theoretically possible to change your feelings by changing your thoughts doesn’t mean that this is easy to do.
  • You don’t double up the ability to regulate your thoughts and feelings, in just one day, just like any other skill you need to build the ability to regulate your feelings by taking challenges that are the right level for you.
  • Likewise if you wish to get better at regulating your feelings you will need to pick the right level of challenges and see if you can maintain your equanimity even in those situations.
  • By doing this regularly, you’re almost certain to become better at controlling your feelings.
  • Now there’s another thing that internal optical that prevents a lot of my students from even entertaining the idea of taking personal responsibility for their happiness.
  • If I’m always in control of my feelings, she said, and I can be happy no matter what won’t my friends and colleagues start abusing me? Won’t they think that since nothing spoils this guy’s mood, let’s take advantage of him? Won’t that happen, he asked me.
  • Because taking personal responsibility for your happiness, doesn’t mean that you don’t hold others accountable for their actions.
  • In this type of situation, most people would get angry at the agent, now if you had total control over your feelings, you could change your feelings if you wanted to.
  • The fact that your feelings are under your control means that you will not hold him, the agent, responsible for how you feel.
  • Just because you choose not to hold him responsible for how you feel, doesn’t mean that you should also not hold him responsible for the mistakes that his behaviors have caused.
  • It is by retaining control over your feelings that you’re more likely to get the agent to get your problem fixed for you.
  • Why? Because, as several researchers have noted, and as David Rock summarizes really well in his very, very good book Your Brain at Work, it is when you have control over your feelings that your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that allows you to make desirable decisions, is more available for you, and you’re able to make better decisions.
  • When you lose control over your feelings, your limbic system takes over the functioning of your brain.
  • That is, by not being able to control your feelings, you would lose your ability to make good decisions.
  • Which in this context with the agent means that you would likely be able to get that agent to cooperate with you a lot less when you lose control over your feelings?
  • In other words, taking personal responsibility for your happiness and being able to regulate your feelings will not make you a doormat that everyone else can trample on.
  • You can be smart about when, how much and to whom to give and similarly, you can be smart about when, how much and with whom you choose to control your feelings.
  • Which means, that, it’s really desirable to embark on this journey of trying to take personal responsibility for you happiness, and trying to regulate your feelings and treating the keys to your happiness in your own two hands?
  • There are many research people that attest to the usefulness of having the ability to control your own thoughts and feelings.
  • As the authors note in the abstract itself of the paper, and I quote, higher scores of self-control, and by self control the authors here referring to the ability to take control of your thoughts and feelings, among other things.
  • That is, how do you gain the ability to regulate your thoughts and feelings? Great question.
  • How or why does taking personal responsibility for your happiness, that is, the ability to regulate your feelings, help you get rid of or at least mitigate the fault of deadly happiness in of being overly controlling? That is, how is taking personal responsibility for your feelings an antidote to being overly controlling? Yashew and see you in the next video.

Internal and External Control as Compensatory Forces

  • As we saw in the last video, having greater self, or internal control, that is, having the ability to control your thoughts and emotions.
  • Understanding this relationship between taking internal control and how it affects the tendency to be overly externally controlling, is important for many reasons, including that it will help us set the stage for the strategies for gaining the ability to regulate our feelings.
  • The reason is, because when you become good at taking personal responsibility for your happiness, you essentially develop this internal control, right? I mean this ability to control your thoughts and feelings.
  • Once you have a higher degree of internal control, you realize that you don’t need as much external control.
  • You come to realize that one of the main reasons why you, or for that matter me or anyone else, seek external control.
  • Control over others and over outcomes, is because we lack internal control.
  • In other words, what I’m proposing here is that internal and external control are compensatory forces, and therefore your tendency to seek external control goes down When you have greater internal control.
  • Studies show that our desire for external control goes up when we lack internal control over our feelings, for example, when we feel stressed out or anxious.
  • I found that people’s tendency to seek external control, for example by.
  • Namely that when we are not feeling good internally, that’s when we are more likely to seek external control.
  • It is when we feel that we don’t have a sufficiently high level of control over our external environment that we seek ways of somehow gaining internal control over our feelings.
  • This belief gives them a vicarious sense of control.
  • It gives people a sense of reassurance that they can control the situation, even though, actually, they don’t have control over it.
  • What all of these findings suggest is that when we feel that we have greater control over our internal environment, that is, we have a way of keeping our stress levels in check.
  • Either by subscribing to a superstition, or by believing in a divine force, or by some other means, we will be less desperate to control the external environment.
  • Two researchers who, by the way, have spent a lot of time working on the need for control, that I think really nails this idea of this compensatory relationship between external and internal control.
  • This part says, and I quote, I don’t think I have the self control to let go of control.
  • What the participant is seeing is that the reasons why she can’t let go of trying to control the external environment is because she feels that she lacks self, or internal control.
  • To summarize, the main reason why taking personal responsibility for your happiness improves your happiness levels, is because it gives you a sense of internal control that lowers your desire for external control, and therefore makes you less likely to be overly control seeking.
  • Now, with this understanding of this compensate trade relationship, between internal and external control, we can now move on to discussing the ways or strategies for taking personal responsibility for our happiness.

Learning Simple Emotion Regulation Strategies

  • There are two main strategies, which are learning simple tactics for regulating emotions and leading a healthier lifestyle.
  • There are essentially four simple tactics under this strategy for regulating emotion, which are situation selection, labeling your emotions, attention deployment, and cognitive reappraisal.
  • A simple logic underlying it is that if you don’t get to experience an unwanted feeling, then you don’t need to regulate it.
  • The rest of the tactics, tactics two through four, are for situations in which the unwanted emotions have already been triggered.
  • The second tactic, labeling your emotions, literally means just that.
  • Telling yourself that you’re feeling angry or anxious, or sad or guilty or jealous or whatever it is that you’re feeling when you experience these emotions.
  • It turns out that merely labeling emotions actually lowers its intensity.
  • One study showed that most people think that labeling their emotions will not help them control their emotions and may even intensify them.
  • The reason these people think this, that labeling the emotion may intensify it, is because from our own past experience, when you discuss or analyze an emotion, emotionally charged event, you do end up intensifying the emotion.
  • Labeling an emotion is different from discussing or analyzing an emotion inducing event.
  • Since you now know exactly what you’re feeling and this somehow reduces the uncertainty and gives you a sense of control over this negative state that you’re feeling.
  • What you don’t want to do is to get into an elaborate analysis or discussion of why you’re feeling frustrated and the thousand other things in life that also make you feel frustrated.
  • Now moving on, the third tactic for regulating emotion is attention deployment.
  • Now, as you may recognize, this tactic is very similar to situation selection, but it’s a tactic you use after the unwanted emotion has already been triggered in you.
  • Whereas with situation selection, that’s a tactic you use before the negative emotion has occurred.
  • What many of us may not know, is that one of the most common ways by which we enact this tactic, which is to engaging in what’s called the self-serving bias, is actually not a good way of feeling good.
  • So you selectively pay attention to attribute different explanations for successes versus failures to make yourself feel good or not feel bad. The problem with this kind of self-serving attribution way of dedicating attention to explanations that work in your favor, to help you feel well is that it can work in the moment.
  • It can make you feel good in the moment, but it is likely to work against you in the long run.
  • One way to do it is to bring to mind things that make you feel authentic pride, or love, or abundance, rather than hubristic pride.
  • If you’re feeling tense about an important meeting, you can bring to mind the previous occasions in which you made a great presentation, or you’ve had a successful meeting.
  • Basically this tactic involves reinterpreting situations so that you feel better about them.
  • Where you’re feeling stressed out about an important impending meeting.
  • You could re-interpret this situation and tell yourself that, far from feeling stressed out about the meeting, you should actually be feeling blessed that your life doesn’t involve hard manual labor.
  • There are four really simple tactics by which you can get to regulate your emotions and have some semblance of control over them.
  • First, by avoiding situations that triggers or intensifies unwanted feelings.
  • Third, deploying attention away from negative thoughts or things that make you feel negative thoughts.
  • Since although it can make you feel good in the moment, it’s likely to be problematic and make you feel worse in the long run.
  • Speaking of things to avoid, another thing you should avoid, according to research, is suppressing your emotions.
  • In this situation, many of us tend to suppress our feelings and for good reason.
  • We feel that expressing our negative feelings in the situation may make an already awkward situation even worse.
  • First, it turns out that merely suppressing emotions doesn’t actually make the emotion go away.
  • Second, it turns out that suppressing your emotions takes effort and brain capacity.
  • So for all these reasons, it’s sometimes not a good idea to suppress your emotions.
  • Of course, this doesn’t mean that you necessarily tell everyone exactly how you’re feeling at all times.
  • What it does mean is that you should realize that suppressing your emotions is not necessarily going to make you feel happier.
  • Situation selection, that is avoiding situations that make you feel negative or labeling you emotions, attention deployment and reappraisal to alter your emotional state.

Appreciating Uncertainty and Lack of Control

  • Then he wished that he would have a really nice place to live in, and some great friends to hang out with, and those things happened too.
  • Then after a couple of months of this, the man discovered that he wasn’t actually feeling any happier than he felt before.
  • God then turned around to the man, and said, and this is the punch line so pay close attention, he said where do you think you’ve been all this time? What the story tells you is that a life in which everything is predictable and totally under your control is actually not such a good life.
  • Such a life would be far from being interesting and exciting.
  • Findings from many studies are actually consistent with this idea that I’ve just conveyed to you, that we find things more enjoyable and exciting, when things are actually uncertain.
  • Now for some of the participants, uncertainty was taken out of the equation.
  • Researchers then looked into these participants’ brains to figure out who is happier.
  • Participants who knew that they were going to get something to drink, but did not know what or when, findings showed enjoy the experience much more than those who were told exactly what is going to happen.
  • When the experiments actually conducted a study in which participants were given a free dollar, they found that those who didn’t learn why they received the free dollar were actually happier.
  • At some level, we all know that uncertainty and lack of control are actually very important for enjoying life.
  • More generally, you wouldn’t want to know exactly how your life is going to turn out to be.
  • Why is it? One reason could be, because life is so much more uncertain and so much more out of control than we would like it to be.
  • That we aren’t able to appreciate and see the positive role that uncertainty and lack of control can play in our lives.
  • Research on something called Optimum Stimulation Level is actually quite consistent with this idea.
  • Below this point life is too predictable and in control and we get bored.
  • Above this point when life is too unpredictable and too out of control, we get anxious.
  • That’s because we are most curious, most engaged, most absorbed with the activity or life itself when things are at the right level of being out of our control and the stretches.
  • What this means is that for us to be able to appreciate the positive role that uncertainty and lack of control play, we need to feel that our life in general is pretty much under control.
  • It’s only when we feel this that we can be receptive to the uncertainty and being out of control.
  • If our life is already too challenging and we feel so anxious and out of control most of the time, we’re already way past the ideal point of uncertainty and lack of control.
  • For many of us, our normal life, our day to day life, is far too fast, and out of control.
  • Which explains why we are incapable of appreciating the positive role that answered in here in lack of control can play in enriching our lives?
  • As with many other things, I think Mahatma Ghandi had it spot on, he said, there’s more to life than increasing its speed.
  • In other words, if you’re currently of the view that life can’t get too predictable or under your control.
  • It follows therefore that one way to get yourself to be in a position where you can appreciate the uncertainty and the lack of control is to examine the lifestyle that you’re currently leading a little more closely.
  • These are words that I’ve actually taken from a really excellent book, that I loved reading, called Eat Move Sleep by the best-selling author of many books actually, Tom Rath.
  • Why does eating right, moving more, and sleeping better, enable you to appreciate uncertainty and lack of control more? That’s because as I will share with you in the next couple of videos, all three make you feel good from the inside out and lower your stress levels.
  • As a result, they put you in a position where you can more easily and naturally appreciate the role that uncertainty and lack of control play in adding excitement and pizzazz to your life.

The Importance of Leading a Healthier Lifestyle

  • Moving more and Sleeping Better can vastly improve how you feel, and as a result can help you appreciate the positive role that uncertainty and lack of control play in our lives.
  • Actually let me start first by telling you how not leading a healthy life style, that is not eating right, not moving enough, and not sleeping well can have a negative effect on your health and happiness.
  • Ready? I should mention, by the way, before I start, that I took many of these findings directly from Tom Rath’s excellent book Eat, Move, Sleep, I should also mention that what I am going to share with you barely scratches the surface of the treasure trove of information that’s out there on this topic.
  • To talk about that, I will first need to tell you a little bit about what eating badly even means.
  • What I think almost everybody will agree with is that eating badly means eating a lot of processed foods, food that comes in cans and packages, eating things that are easily processed by the body like sugar and simple carbohydrates, not eating enough vegetables and fruits, and finally, eating a lot of bad fats, trans fat and saturated fat.
  • First off, unsurprisingly, findings show that you’re more likely to gain weight and become obese if you eat badly.
  • Secondly, findings show that you’re likely to have lower levels of energy if you eat like that.
  • Here’s what’s been found about what eating badly can do.
  • In fact the study found that the quality of the tan of the skin of those who eat a lot of fruits and veggies was rated as even better than those who got a natural tan from the sunlight.
  • Because you get aggressive when you eat fat, you’re also more likely to get into fights and arguments.
  • That’s just a quick summary of just some of the bad effects of eating a bad diet on your emotional and physical health.
  • Okay, now that we’ve talked about the bad effects of both not eating right and not moving enough, let’s move on to sleep and the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
  • First off, again, what does not getting enough sleep mean? It means getting less than seven hours of good quality sleep per night.
  • If you think that that’s way more sleep than you need, think again, because results from a study that explicitly looked into this issue found that the vast majority of us, 95% of us, which basically means almost everybody.
  • Need some type somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
  • They found that only 2.5% of the people felt rested with less than seven hours of sleep.
  • So if you feel that you can perform perfectly well with six hours of sleep you’re almost certain to be mistaken.
  • You just don’t know how much better you’ll be and feel if you got more sleep.
  • That said; let me get to the bad effects of not getting enough sleep.
  • First, findings show that you look less attractive yes you actually look less attractive when you don’t get enough sleep.
  • Second, you’re likely to make worse decisions when you’re sleep deprived.
  • One study found that 90 minutes less sleep than you need lowers your daytime alertness by as much as one-third.
  • Found that sleep improves the emotional stability of kids, and makes them less impulsive.
  • As a result of being less impulsive, when you get enough sleep but likely to eat healthier or put conversely, when you don’t get enough sleep you crave more unhealthy food and therefore you’re likely to put on weight particularly, in the wrong places.
  • You’re also likely to be in a much better mood it turns out, when you get a good night’s sleep because.
  • Good sleep takes the edge off bad memories by assigning meaning to them and by letting you achieve something that’s known as psychological closure.
  • Or conversely, you’re likely to be crabby and in a bad mood if you don’t get enough sleep.
  • I could go on and on about the importance of getting good sleep, but I will end with just three more, I think, interesting findings.
  • First, being sleep deprived is the equivalent of being drunk on the road. Your chances of getting into an accident are just as high when you’re sleep deprives.
  • Say you have four hours less sleep than you need, as having a six pack of beer sloshing around in your tummy.
  • You’re likely to be less satisfied with your job another study found when you’re sleep deprived.
  • One study showed that poor quality sleep was twice as common among those who weren’t satisfied with their jobs.
  • Finally, your health is likely to suffer when you don’t get enough sleep.
  • One study found that poor sleep puts stress on your immune system, as a result of which you’re more likely to get cold and flu when you’re sleep deprived.
  • Another study found that lack of sleep can actually lead to something even more serious.
  • Hopefully, hearing all of this has convinced you of all three things as being important, eating right, moving more, and sleeping better.

Do’s and Don’ts of a Healthier Lifestyle

  • As we saw in the last video, not leading a healthy lifestyle, specifically not eating right, not moving enough, and not sleeping well can have a bunch of negative effects on our health and our happiness.
  • As the author of the paper notes, and I quote, sleep, a good diet, and exercise are critical for staving off ADT.
  • Once again, I should mention that much of the material that I’m going to commit to you is from Tom Rath’s excellent book Eat, Move, Sleep.
  • So if you want to learn more about this topic, I would highly recommend Tom’s book.
  • You’re likely to lead a healthier lifestyle if you make it easier on yourself to make good decisions.
  • You may be really motivated to eat healthy and you may have a great ability to discern what’s healthy and what’s not.
  • You’ve made it harder on yourself to make a healthy decision by not carrying some healthy snacks with you.
  • As you will see, all of these suggestions that I’m going to give you share this common underlying theme of making it easier for you to make healthy decisions.
  • Let me start by some simple things you can do to make healthy food choices first.
  • First, keep healthy snacks in easy to reach places in your house.
  • The reason for this step is that findings show that you consume less food when you eat from smaller plates.
  • It turns out, that those types of simple crabs are among the least healthy foods for you.
  • Fourth, if you find that you often have to eat out, carry some healthy snacks with you all the time.
  • Carry a small zip lock bag with nuts or carry an apple or a banana and eat them to tide you over in case you find yourself in a situation in which you are not able to find some healthy options around you.
  • The reason for this is that findings show that you eat more, as much as 50 percent more of the item with which you start your meal.
  • People who eat a hearty and healthy breakfast, findings show, turn out to be smarter and skinnier.
  • Now, turning to the second aspect, which is moving more?
  • There are a bunch of similar things you can do to make it easier to be more active.
  • Moving more doesn’t mean exercising more vigorously for one hour each day.
  • It means moving more throughout the day on a regular basis.
  • It turns out that merely having a device that measures how much you move actually makes you move more.
  • Second, put in reminders to move more regularly at work.
  • If you sit for hours on end, that’s really bad. Findings show that your blood sugar levels and your insulin levels spike up to really dangerous levels.
  • Third, get a treadmill, or an elliptical machine, or some other exercise machine for your home.
  • One study of more than 6,000 participants found that almost all participants who maintained a healthy weight, as high a number as 92%, exercised at home.
  • Fourth, try to get a quick exercise session completed in the morning itself, soon after you wake up.
  • Another big advantage of exercising in the mornings is that it leads to a significant mood boosting effect that lasts throughout the day.
  • One study found that even 20 minutes of exercising and moderate exercising in the morning had a positive impact on mood as many as 12 hours later in the day.
  • If you find the idea of exercising daunting, do whatever you find to be pleasurable.
  • Even if you get to exercise only for five minutes, what will happen is that, that will spur you on to continue to exercise.
  • Then once you’re on the routine of exercising see if you can walk a mile a day.
  • Of course, if you like to exercise then it’s a good thing to try and work up a good sweat on a daily basis.
  • This brings me to our final leg of the healthy lifestyle stool, which is, getting good sleep.
  • Now before I mention some of the steps to make it easier to get a good night sleep, let me reiterate that almost all of us need at least seven hours of good quality sleep a night to feel fresh.
  • So in other words you may need to spend some more time in bed.
  • Maybe eight hours or more in order to get the seven hours of good quality sleep.
  • Resist the temptation to check your email by telling yourself that you’re likely to be in a much better shape to solve whatever problems, that an issue arise at work after you’ve had a good night sleep than before.
  • To summarize, there are seven simple things you can do to make it easier to make healthy decisions.
  • To further help you with adopting a healthier lifestyle I’m going to have you do something else.
  • I’ll tell you all about this exercise in the next video.

The 4th Exercise: The Healthy Lifestyle Exercise

  • In this video, we’re going to give you instructions for the fourth exercise for this course, which is the Schedule-Partner Exercise.
  • Before Catherine takes over for me, let me give you a quick overview of this exercise.
  • This exercise involves partnering with another student in this course, and encouraging each other to make healthy eating, moving, and sleeping decisions.
  • So it’s in that spirit that I’ve designed this exercise.
  • In this video, I’m going to walk you through the instructions for the thought happiness exercise.
  • Something that we call the healthy lifestyle exercise.
  • The objective of this exercise which I have to confess isn’t my favorite because it involves being disciplined.
  • This exercise, more than the others, will test your ability to be disciplined.
  • This exercise could also be the most useful one in the whole course.
  • Soon you are going to see a link like this one on the screen, and as for the previous exercises, you’ll need to click on it.
  • As you can see, this exercise consists of three parts.
  • Part 1 constitutes 2 steps, step 1 involves coming up with a healthy lifestyle plan that you think will work for you.
  • You will need to pick at least three of these things as part of your eating-right plan.
  • Once you have come up with a plan for eating right, click the next button, which will take you to the next page, which involves making a plan to move more.
  • If you haven’t exercised in years, don’t plan to run a mile a day.
  • Once you have indicated three items in your moving more plans, click the Next button, which will take you to my favorite part of the exercise.
  • So try your best to get at least seven hours of sleep for the week during which you are doing this exercise.
  • If you really can’t afford to get seven hours of sleep a night doesn’t make that part of your plan.
  • Okay, so once you have clicked the next button, at the bottom of the Sleep Better page, you will be taken to a screen where you can see all the items on your healthy lifestyle plan for eating right, moving more, and sleeping better.
  • If you’re not happy with your plan and want to change something, you can always go back by clicking on the go back button.
  • If your happy with your plan and believe that you have provided sufficiently specific details on each item of the plan, you can click the go to step 2 button, which will take you to step 2 of the exercise, which involves one of the most important components of this exercise.
  • If what you entered is right and needs no change, click on the “I am done with part one of this exercise” button.
  • You will then see this message, “You completed part one of the 4th happiness exercise,” etc.
  • We have discovered from our experience that having a life person asking you whether you have been sticking to your healthy lifestyle plan is much more motivating.
  • With that, you should be done with part one of the exercise.
  • For the next seven days with the survey link to part two of this exercises.
  • You will be asked to respond to both questions which are, question one, how well were you able to stick to your healthy lifestyle plan? If you were successful in sticking to it, to what do you attribute your success? And if you are well and successful on any or all of it, why were that and question two, what do you plan to do to be able to stick to your plan tomorrow, or lead you today? Note, you could simply say do the same thing I did today.
  • After the seven days are over, you will receive another email that looks like this, with a link to part three of the exercise.
  • In other words, this part of the exercise involves responding to the following three questions.
  • How well were you able to stick to your plan overall? And did you notice any effects on your well-being and on your desire for external control? And question three, how did you find the experience of participating in the exercise? Were there any learning’s for you from it? Here we would like for you to comment on whether and how much you liked the experience of receiving daily emails from the computer in doing this exercise.
  • This will help us refine the instructions for the exercise in the future.
  • When you have answered all the three questions and you click on the next button, you will be done with the fought happiness exercise.
  • You can download a soft copy of your inputs for each part of the full happiness exercise by clicking on the download PDF link that you will see on this last screen.
  • Downloading the PDF will make it easier for you to share your experiences with other students on this exercise.
  • You can cut and paste what you wrote onto the discussion forum and it will also help you to have your own copy of your responses to this exercise.
  • We hope that you will find this exercise to be useful and engaging.
  • See you next week when I will be giving you the instructions for happiness exercise five.
  • The way that you explained it, I feel like participating in the exercise myself.
  • Will you be my schedule partner, Catherine? As for you, my dear student, I hope that the instructions were clear, and that you’re really excited about taking part in this exercise.
  • I hope that the exercise helps you make better eating, moving, and sleeping decisions, and that as a result, you start feeling more in control of your life.

Summary of the Week

  • It’s totally out of control, but the good news is that I’m really enjoying interacting with you all, and I hope that you feel the same.
  • As you may recall, we started by discussing how being in control, or at least perceiving to be in control, is crucial for happiness.
  • As you may remember, these residents felt better and lived longer, when they were given more control over such trivial decisions as, which plant to take care of, and which movies to watch.
  • It goes to show, just how important it is for us to feel like we are in control.
  • Given how critical it is to feel that we are in control, both for emotional and for physical health.
  • It’s not surprising that many of us seek to be in control, and as it turns out, seeking some degree of control is actually a good thing.
  • Studies show that those with a higher desire for control, tend to aim higher and also accomplish more.
  • Is what can you do if you are overly control seeking? The first thing to do is, figure out if you have the tendency to be overly controlling, which is what we tried to do with the two scales.
  • The desirability of control scale, and the maximize scale that I had you complete.
  • Hopefully, those scales gave you a good idea of whether you’re overly control seeking or not.
  • We then discussed the fourth habit of the highly happy, taking personal responsibility for your happiness, which I proposed as an antidote to the fourth deadly happiness sin.
  • Taking personal responsibility for your happiness means, never blaming others for how you feel.
  • The first obstacle, is that we can’t imagine being in control of our feelings if something extreme, like breaking a leg, or losing a job were to happen.
  • So we feel that the idea of taking personal responsibility for our happiness, won’t work for us.
  • Because we don’t want that to happen, of course, we don’t want others to take advantage of us, we feel that the whole idea of taking personal responsibility for our happiness, Is not a good idea.
  • It’s important to remember, hat you don’t gain the ability to control your feelings in just one day.
  • In other words, just because you currently lack the ability to control your feelings when something extreme happens, it doesn’t mean that you will never again this ability.
  • It is through such a process of taking on increasingly bigger challenges, that slowly, over time you gain the ability to retain control over your feelings.
  • As I mentioned earlier, lots of findings have shown that we are much more likely to make good decisions, and better decisions, when we are control of our own emotions than when we are not.
  • What this finding suggests, is that you’ll interact with others in a far more mature fashion, when you’re within control of your feelings, than when you don’t.
  • As I explained, the reason for this is that taking personal responsibility for your happiness, allows you to take what I call internal control.
  • Once you have internal control, that is, once you have control over your thoughts and feelings, you’ll discover that you don’t need to exercise that much external control.
  • Or put differently, internal control compensates for lack of external control, and therefore makes you less desires of controlling other people, or outcomes.
  • We then discussed how one could go about gaining internal control.
  • The first reason is that greater control of your feelings means that you retain the keys to your happiness in your own two hands, rather than abdicating it to an external world.
  • Second, it fulfills the desire for mastery, that all of us have since, by taking internal control, what you will be developing, might be called something like personal mastery.
  • In the week, I then moved on to discussing the second strategy for taking internal control, which is leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • The logic of this strategy is that certain level of uncertainty and lack of control in life actually enhances enjoyment from life.
  • Most of us don’t know, or have forgotten this, because our life is much more uncertain, and out of control than we can handle.
  • So the idea is to lead a healthy lifestyle, so that we feel good from the inside out, and thus we are in a much better shape, and position to appreciate the positive role that uncertainty and lack of control can play in our lives.
  • For recognizing the positive role that uncertainty and lack of control play in enriching our lives.
  • That summarizes the main points of this week, but before I conclude, let me add, that you will be multiplying the effectiveness of the two strategies for taking positive control for your happiness.
  • So when you try to take internal control, try not to get angry or frustrated with yourself if you fail.
  • Remember that it takes a lot of time and practice, to develop the ability to take internal control.
  • So as you try to build your ability to take internal control, don’t forget the common humanity aspect of compassion.

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