Creating Passionate Users: Change or lose your mind
Why are people so resistent to change? Because of how our brains work. In a previous post I discussed how neural pathways are made stronger as you repeat a behavior: this is the secret behind your habits (good and bad) and also learning new things (practice makes perfect). What makes it so hard to change your bad habits? They are literally hardwired into your brain and you have to work really hard to change that wiring. It’s like becoming a virtuoso violin player – you can’t pick up a violin and expect to learn how to play in just one or two times… it takes years of dedication and practice to rewire your brain. It can be done, but it’s not so easy, and clearly requires a lot of motivation on your part.
So what’s the right motivation? As the article discusses, emotions play a large role in motivating you to change your behaviors. We know that emotion is important for memory and learning, so this makes sense. What I find particularly interesting is the discussion of Dean Ornish’s heart disease reversal program: he believes the key to the success of his program (determined by how many people actually stick with the changes in their lifestyle over the long term) is positive emotion. He says, “Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear.”
Fear of death and other negative-emotion producing facts, while they are powerful short term motivators, are not as powerful as positive emotions for long term changes. Just after an accident or after a health scare we may be motivated to change our behavior because we have a recent, emotional incident in our lives that provides a powerful, emotional reminder of what happens if we don’t drive slowly or take care of ourselves. But over time, that reminder diminishes (a big scare is a short term event) and we get lax.