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The Power of Curiosity

March 9, 2018

 

When thinking about breaking a bad habit, most people would tell you that it requires grit and will power. 

 

You know what?

 

Willpower is overrated. 

 

What you need to start with is curiosity. 

 

Huh?

 

Let me explain:

 

Let's take the habit of eating junk food late at night after the kids go to bed as a way to wind down and "reward" yourself.

 

You see the ice cream or even just think of it (trigger).

 

You eat the ice cream (behavior).

 

It tastes sweet and delicious (reward). 

 

Repeat. 

 

Night after night. 

 

The problem is, you know this habit is preventing you from reaching your health goals. 

 

And you'd like to stop doing it.

 

This is where you think you need will power.

 

What you really need is curiosity.

 

Tonight, when you find yourself in the same late night snacking loop, instead of either a) checking out completely and diving into the pint of Chubby Hubby, or b) white-knuckling it by trying to use will power to resist the ice cream (thus intensifying the cravings),  

 

GET CURIOUS. 

 

What is going on in your brain when something triggers your craving for ice cream? 

 

Instead of just trying to make the unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible, 

 

turn toward them. 

 

What does that even mean? 

 

According to psychiatrist Dr. Judson Brewer, it means going into your brain and your body from moment to moment by becoming what he calls an "inner scientist." 

 

What does a craving for Ben and Jerry's feel like in my body? 

 

Do you feel it in your head?

 

Tingling in your chest?

 

Stomach?

 

What were you thinking before this craving came on? 

 

Were you stressed about something?

 

Bored?

 

Get curiously aware of what's happening in your body and brain when an urge comes up.

 

Dr. Brewer did a study with this curiosity method and smokers.

 

He trained them to notice what their bodies felt like when a craving came along...

 

what anger and frustration felt like in their bodies...

 

He even told them to smoke, but had them get curious when they did.

 

One of his participants said this after putting this curiosity method into practice:

 

"Mindful smoking smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals."

 

Just by being curiously aware when she smoked, she became disenchanted with her behavior.

 

Smokers who practiced mindfulness were twice as likely as those treated just with medication not to start smoking again. 

 

They changed their behavior by first getting curious about it. 

 

So can you.

 

For the full TED talk by Judson Brewer, click here

 

Share this with someone who wants to break a bad habit!

 

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