Healthy Joyful Living Newsletter -- May 2010
- Article: What Does it Really Take to Change
- Pre-Order Courage and Croissants, Inspiring Joyful Living
- Looking for a Speaker
- Lifestyle Corner and Book Review: Why French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook
- Vision Board from Oprah
- Lifestyle E-Book
The fact is that understanding how to be successful at change and actually doing it are two very different things. A book by Alan Deutschman called Change or Die, talks about the scientific studies that prove how hard it is to stick to a change.
Okay, guess how hard you think it is, 80-20? 50-50?
Well the answer the research has shown is that to actually stick to a change, even one you want, you really want, is nine to one against you. A 10% chance that you will be able to stick to the change.
Your chance in sticking
with a change is 10%
What, you scream, "nine to one against me?" Let's take the example of our health care crisis and how to live a healthy life. Deutschman discusses that for the past 50 years the research has shown more and more evidence that 80% of the health care budget and the ability to live a long healthy life is directly related to five behavioral issues; no secret here - smoking, too much drinking, eating, stress, and not enough exercise. He reports in a study by Dr. Edward Miller at John Hopkins University that 90% of people who have had bypass surgery and were going to die did not change their lifestyle. They know they might die early and get very ill, but they did not change their lifestyle. Why? That is the big question.
Changing our behaviors cuts across not just our health, but the way we do business, raise our children, and adapt to the ever-changing world we live in. The core of the matter, John Kotter of Harvard Business School reports, is "changing the behavior of people." We want to.. we truly want to change our behaviors, but more often than not, we can't.
We hear of CEO's, politicians, and friends and families who have hit a crisis and have a powerful motivator to change and yet we go back to old behaviors. We see families all busting with obesity and diabetes and they don't change their eating and exercise behaviors. We see our entire culture dealing with the crisis of consumerism and lack of savings and we don't change our behaviors.
The key is how we talk to ourselves and others. It is not about stating facts and debating the pros and cons, but it is imperative to talk to the emotions not the thinking if you want to make a change.
Kotter, as reported in the book, states that "Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people's feelings." This is true at the organization, operational, and individual personal level. We need to influence our emotions more than our thoughts. So why is it so difficult? If you think (oh there I go) a minute, to talk to our emotions is not logical and flies against everything we have been taught (especially in business school). It is irrational, paradoxical, and is not part of our normal thinking process. Yes, we have been taught to acknowledge feelings, but it seems that is as far as we have gone in using emotions to persuade, influence, and change behaviors in many situations.
To even have a chance at making big and small changes, we need to bring in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual of the change desired. An example of this is Dean Ornish's preventative medicine research that motivates patients not by fear of death (which is common), but instead inspires them with a new vision of Joy of Living. Now that is something we can get behind. It is not just about living longer, he says, but feeling better. The bottom line, joy, is a much more powerful motivator than fear.
So, what does this mean for you? Take a look at the changes you want to make, whether it is to go for a walk 3 times a week with your partner, find a new job, or make it fun for your kids to do homework. Write down what joy and pleasure it will bring you (or them) focusing your brain in the direction it wants to go.
The big challenge, as taught to us by the latest research in the neurosciences, is that our brain works in a way that concepts cannot just be changed by adding facts. These facts, if they are to work, have to fit into what is already in the synapses of our brain. The other option is to take the time it takes to change the frame of reference and the way you do that is to tell stories that are simple, easy to identify with, emotional in flavor, and full of positive experiences. That is why motivational speakers and books like, Chicken Soup for the Soul, have sold millions of copies. People resonate and change more readily when their emotional side is touched--over and over and over again.
The story you tell yourself or others needs to be simple, positive, and emotional.
The notion of reframing the conversation into the positive emotional feelings isn't enough however. In both the studies on improving health and business, the notion of radical change is one to consider. The research shows that it is actually easier to make radical changes than incremental with better results. For example, if you go on a diet and make a few changes you often give up sooner because you are hungry and don't see the results you desire. If, however, you enroll in a strict program, results are faster and the pleasure of dropping pounds keeps the momentum going.
For us, when we took our sojourn to France, it was a radical change, and actually easier than making small changes in lifestyle back in California.
Even if radical change isn't possible in many things you want to shift in your life, break down the goals and find quick wins that you can celebrate. For example, an improved grade on a test, the ability to lift another 5 pound weight, or the exhilaration of climbing a hill that was once difficult for you. In terms of your lifestyle, find areas that you can feel emotionally more joy and focus on those one at a time.
An easy place to start is to spend more time walking in nature. It automatically grounds you and makes you feel good. Feeling good makes you want to feel good more often. Voila, you find yourself making time to walk in nature often.
We all know how important support is in making changes and this is well proven by the research. Take a look at the changes you want to make and see if there is adequate support both in terms of the systems supporting you as well as people. The easiest example that many people struggle with is getting enough exercise. The ones that are most successful are those that have support structures in place in terms of trainers, gyms, exercise classes where you are accountable, team training groups and so forth as well as family, friends, and professionals who support you to exercise consistently.
The latest research is finding that our brains do not become hardwired at 12 or 21 (although I do wonder sometimes as I still struggle with learning French). An interesting company called Posit Science Corp is working on ways to prevent, stop, or reverse cognitive declines in older adults. If they can do that, they can help anyone of any age! The lead scientist, Dr. Merzenich, talks about professionals who have repeatedly practiced a habit, such as musicians have actually distorted their brains (as seen on MRIs) by continuous learning and practice. The challenge, he states, however, is that the accumulation of experience makes it harder to change.
The key Merzenich says is to keep up the brain's ability to learn. It's not just "use it or lose it," but "use something new or lose it". Wow, that is a new distinction I had not heard explained so thoroughly. He says that brain fitness actually starts to decline at age 30. It is not about just being active, but about real learning. This actually makes a lot of sense, because as we learn something new we are truly pulling, pushing, prodding, and struggling just like our kids are when they learn a new skill. It is very different to lift more weights than learn how to do the tango or play a musical instrument.
Overall, he suggests that you create new challenges in which you have to truly learn something. And what happens if you don't? Merzenich says that people who live to 85 have a 50-50 chance of being senile. It is truly more than change or die, change or adapt, change or leave well enough alone, but about change or lose your mind literally.
So, if this article has you in a tizzy, I've summed up the 4 things you need to recognize if you are making personal changes or leading others in a change.
- Talk to your (and others) emotions and feelings not just how they think.
- Look at more radical changes vs. small improvements when possible.
- Gain support of structures and people.
- Continue to learn something new not just be active, but real learning. This goes for everyone you are leading in a change as well.
If you are interested in reading further, check out his book Change or Die.
Click here and order your preview autographed copy.
Pass on the word and help us to help everyone else attract more joie de vivre into their lives.
Lifestyle Corner and Book Review
In a small intimate gathering at Moussy's restaurant in San Francisco we were served a menu (taken from her book) that melted in your mouth. The appetizer was enough to make me swoon with flavors bursting with mixtures of prosciutto and blackberries and d'anjou pears and blue cheese topped with walnuts on toasted baguette.
Being a "when I have time to cook, cook" I have experimented over the last 5 years with a few of what I call my signature dishes. After talking with her I am determined to expand my repertoire and try what she suggested were some easy, fast, and flavorful dishes.
But first back to the menu. The first course was roasted gulf prawns with a citrus and fennel salad. I don't know about you, but I love prawns, however, I have never figured out how to cook them unless they are part of a shrimp cocktail. Grilled shrimp here we come! The entrée, a delicious grilled hanger steak with the long stemmed flowering broccolini was amazing. Most importantly we were reminded of the portions being small (why French women don't get fat) and yet so flavorful that every bite was a trip to heaven. Okay, there was a superb chef cooking for us, but still anything is possible.
Conversing with Mireille over desert we discussed the Vanilla Panna Cotta with organic strawberries, candied pinenuts and Mint. The chef told me later he added his own ingredient of fennel pollen honey imported from Italy. Take away the amazing honey flavor Mireille attested that it would take 3 minutes to make the desert (albeit it does need to be prepared ahead of time to gel) and is both brilliant and healthy.
I shared with Mireille that we sit down at the table every night (I got ten points for that one), but our daughter was complaining that we ate too much chicken. She loved my lamb chops too, but I needed something else easy that wasn't chicken.
She kindly pointed out her scallop "ceviche" with mango and parmesan. Glancing at the recipe I had to agree with her that it did look super easy and tonight I shall dazzle our daughter with something other than chicken and lamb chops.
She then recommended making her "magical breakfast," a mixture of yogurt, flaxseed oil, lemon juice, honey, finely ground cereal such as post shredded wheat, and walnuts. Asking why she calls it her magical breakfast, she answers, "It is a combination of tasty, easy and so good for your well-being and melts away pounds. However, she adds, cut back on the bread and wine and eat a modest lunch and dinner." So for those of you wanting to try this, here it is.
1. Put the yogurt in a bowl and add the oil. Mix well. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Add the honey and mix. (Note: It is important to add ingredients one at a time)
2. Finely grind the cereal and walnuts (use a small food processor) and add to yogurt. Serve at once.
3. Personal note: I changed the Lemon juice for Orange juice or a Clementine I had which was a bit sweeter for our tastes. You can also add blueberries or other fruit as desired.
Time saver: - Grind a week's worth of cereal and nuts and keep it refrigerated.
Jean, in his eloquent French, had a deeper conversation with Mirelle regarding her purpose for taking on this second career with such full force. Straight from the heart you could hear this woman explain how she wanted to make a difference to woman and parents in how they viewed food, ate and enjoyed food, and how they taught their kids how to enjoy good nutritious meals. Seeing the rising obesity rates in America I believe this woman is one rainbow of hope that is inspiring so many who need education, inspiration, and empowerment to eat, cook, and pay attention to what and how we eat and in turn pass this on to the children of the world.
Friday night I was re-inspired to spread my wings and cook some new and tasty dishes. I made a Maché salad instead of the romaine I usually use and scallops with mango. The results were interesting as the main comment was it felt a little like a vacation having something truly different to eat at home. Even Zoé loved the fresh taste of the Maché with pecans and a hint of beets.
The benefits are mounting up in the form of:
- Focusing on food as a creative pursuit, not just a comfort.
- A special family activity that also helps our daughter to become independent and healthy in her food choices.
- Continuous learning which helps the brain to grow (and avoid dementia).
- Keeps us healthy and happy.
- A wonderful way to share with friends.
And besides I'll cook dinner anyway, so why not try someting fun and different.
As I continue to try some recipes, I will let you know how they work.
The French Women don't Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano.
Many people have made vision boards by cutting pictures from magazines and pasting them into beautiful collages. If you are interested in making a simple and free computer vision board, check out Oprah's free Vision Board Tool.
Starting out with a template background you can choose from images provided or upload your own photos, add words, and voila you have your own board.
It is a fun and easy way to keep your vision in front of you whenever you need a peek or a reminder of where you are going in life.
Try out this interactive fun guide to focusing on the life you want to create. Whether you are in transition, thinking of making changes, dreaming of new opportunities, or nearing retirement this E-Workbook will set you on the right path.
"I went through the Lifestyle E-Workbook and was amazed at what I uncovered in different areas of my life. It is a fantastic tool to use alone or with a coach or your partner." Software sales professional.
Buy your Lifestyle Planning E-Workbook and get started on creating the life you want.
Our goal is to help you create profitable businesses and careers while living joyful lives.
Let us know how we can help you or what you want to hear more about! We are trying to build our list and reach people just like you. Please forward this newsletter on to someone you think might enjoy it and ask them to sign-up for our newsletter. We thank you in advance!
Bon Courage – Go with Courage
Suzanne and Jean-Pierre