Want to know how dependent upon your environment you are in terms of your everyday behaviours, attitude, emotional state and motivation? Re-arrange it. Look around. Take note of the surroundings, the objects within it, their position relative to each other. What is fixed, what is moveable? What is your default orientation with respect to all this? Haven’t tidied up in a while? See some dust on the mantlepiece? What about that ornament in the corner you never really liked but ‘inherited’.
Our reflexive behavioural patterns are highly dependent on the situation we find ourselves in. We wake up, yawn, stare at the ceiling, notice that patch which has faded and needed the extra dab of paint, or the cracks that have been slowly, insidiously spreading. There’s that cobweb again! How long has it been festering up there? Never mind, roll out of bed, into the bathroom, down the stairs, brew up, sit down, crack on. Before you know it you have been funneled through the household, perhaps into your car, or into the home-office, and have embarked upon yet another routine day with little evident control over how you act, other than in an habitual manner. The day draws to a close, you shuffle up the stairs, sidle into bed, lean over, kiss the dog good night.
HANG ON!! HOW DID SHE GET THERE? WHERE’S THE WIFE?
It takes a little disruption, intervention to shake out of the routine. Incongruency is what will grab your attention. Like when you go to Tesco’s to get some bin bags and there’s a cabbage sitting next to the Mr Muscle. It pulls you back out of that automaton like state, perhaps raises a chuckle. Or inspires you to have a salad this evening for tea instead of pie and chips.
They say the best way to give up smoking is to move house (!). Such is one’s dependency on a familiar habitat. Those ingrained cues in our perceptual field prompt the motor schemas that define our automatic behaviours to kick in. To disrupt the pattern simply means investing a little attention, from the offset. Take note of the external world, in some detail. Notice the everyday details, the minutiae. The ‘affordance’ of the visual elements in your immediate world can galvanise energy and an impetus to act. Use this proactively. instead of ignoring the pile of clothes dumped on the floor, or that layer of dust, grab a handful and shove them in the washing bin, or swipe your hand across the dust. The increments make the difference. You can turn around a demotivated state in a few instants by engaging different action schemas. Whilst reordering your home at the same time, making improvements, spawning ideas on what else you could do. And by doing this ‘housekeeping’ you also tidy up your mind and your approach to getting other work related tasks done. It can even help creativity as such. For ignoring your environment is to be actually governed by it, without realising. You lose agency, self-control as a result.
From the perspective of my 'brain networks' approach, this means activating your externally focused 'task-positive' network, whilst tuning down your 'default mode'. Residing too much in a default state is to be preoccupied internally, failing to take note of the outside world and it's cues. Hence automaticity of action. It takes up energy as you plod along unaware of how you could be affecting change around you as you go. And by switching into this external focus you can use that spared energy more productively and proactively to shape the world around you and therefore create the infrastructure for empowering your own behavioural change...
It doesn’t actually take much effort – far less than the imagined effort that the borne procrastinator expends in avoiding ‘doing’. Small steps, exponential effects.
Go and tidy up! And take the wife for a walk before her pedigree chum. You’ll be rejuvenated and inspired by the results!!
Here is where I synthesise my Adventure Psychology approach based on my extensive adventure travel and pursuits experiences, more than two decades of applied psychological research, and my association and work with extreme sports practitioners. My philosophy can be boiled down to a simple premise (as elaborated on in Science section): a 'task-focused' mindset is key to achieve success! What gets in the way of this is 'self' Through a deep understanding of how the brain 'works' it is possible to refocus attention, use 'self-control' and engage with the world in a more efficient manner to achieve goals. I offer insights and techniques backed up with cutting edge science and practical knowledge, studying optimal performers to ensure insights are based on real evidence!