Achieving success is a bit like calibrating a constantly evolving machine. This machine is the complexities of human behavior and understanding them can drastically improve your chances of success. If you want to do more, go with the flow rather than against it. After all, it’s much easier to swim downstream than struggle upstream.
Let’s explore some of these natural tendencies.
Habits are so much more than just repeated actions. That’s only the start. Habits are the brain’s way of conserving and optimizing energy brain energy so you can focus on critical tasks. Normally, the thousands of cues and special routines performed by our unconscious aren’t a problem – in fact, we rely on them to get us through the day. But forming a new habit is more about your environment than the diminishing resources of discipline or willpower. For instance, if you switch the silverware in your kitchen even one drawer over, you will almost certainly open the old drawer for the next few days until the brain forms a new habit. Some days you will have the willpower to form a new habit and sometimes you won’t. So, if you want to eat healthier, don’t have unhealthy food in your house. If you want to read more books, place a book on your pillow. And if you want to spend less time on your phone, create a stronger password.
Influence of others
A lot of our behavior is influenced by others. Humans are social creatures and yet we pretend we are tough and independent. Since we love to share experiences with each other, it is always easier to go with the crowd. You can use this natural human tendency to your advantage. Look to surround yourself with people whose desires, actions and habits are pushing them to similar goals as yourself. That will make your journey easier. It’s not everything, but it is a good starting point.
Wired for negativity
An old media adage is: “if it bleeds, it ledes.” Who hasn’t slowed their car to watch an accident on the freeway? Who hasn’t gossiped about somebody else’s life falling apart? Human beings are wired for negativity. Anthropologists suspect the tendency goes back to the caveman days and our brains still assume we are dealing with threats from the wild. A similar thing happens when we are sleep deprived or hungry – our bodies think we are under attack, which means “hangry” is a real thing. To counterbalance our negative tendencies, we must be intentional about the media we consume, who we interact with and deliberately aim to bring joy and gratitude into our lives.
Your own nature (being a Big Picture person)
Human behavior comes with a panoply of strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. Every strength has its mirror weakness. If you are a Big Picture person, like I am, you might overlook the details. To maximize your success, try to understand who you are, work within your own nature and collaborate with others who bring out your strengths and corral your weaknesses.
Success is possible if you better understand human tendencies, particularly your own. Instead, we prefer to prove how strong we are by highlighting our discipline and willpower and saying things like, “nobody can tell me what to think” or “I’m a self-made person.” Yet by understand our natural behaviors you can make them your ally and create a plan that goes with the flow instead of against it.