Some products that we should not be consuming, we consume (e.g., sugar & cigarettes) and some products that we should be consuming (e.g., vegetables & exercise) we don’t consume enough.
In my personal research I have found that it is not enough to tell people which products are bad and to explain the reasons why.
Majority of times people already know which products are bad for them and the reasons why. Yet they continue consuming these products. Why is that?
First of all, it is not enough to tell people what not to do. Rather it is better to tell people what to do. When telling what to do, make it also very concrete. Positive statements are more concrete that negative ones. Vagueness is often misunderstood and leads to inaction.
For example, we can say “don’t eat this, it is bad for you”. In a short-term a person can stop undesired action, but the effect may persist in a long-term.
This is important as majority of our today’s anti-marketing and anti-consumption communication is made from a negative and vague standpoint. We have probably all heard that: “McDonalds is unhealthy”, “Coca-Cola is too sugary” and “Smoking kills”.
Anti-Smoking labels, for example, were shown to make smokers want to smoke more. Rather than saying “stop smoking”, perhaps it is better to say “go out enjoy fresh air” instead.
Furthermore, we are known to make logical decisions based on emotional information. Emotions have a very strong hold on us. This is easy to see at times people when people try to stop a negative behaviour. Our emotions give us negative feedback an our logical mind verbalizes them in the reasons we cannot do that behaviour, even if we know that it is a right thing to do.
To make it worth, we have all heard of the power of our unconscious mind that leads up to 98% of all our activities. This insight also shows that up to 40% of all our decisions are habits. We think that we are making our own decisions, but realistically we are just doing what we always did, on autopilot. If we smoke, it is hard to stop smoking because we are on an autopilot.
Antony Robbins, one of the most influential public speakers today, says that in order to change behaviour we need leverage. We need to have a bigger desire to stop than to continue doing undesired habit. In case of smoking, our desire to stop should outweigh habit, emotions and logic.
How to find leverage to overcome bad habits?
My answer is “easy”. We need to have a common enemy.
Blame marketing. Get angry and pissed off at people who made us consume. More than that realize that most ideas that you hold true make that lead you to bad habits were given to you for other people to make money.
Be that Marlboro, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, or any other company (even the “benevolent” one) companies exist to take money of your pocket and to put to pocket of someone who already has more money than they can spend.
At this point you know that a habit is bad for you and you have enough leverage. You can attack a habit. Whenever you smoke, eat bad food, or any other habit get angry and start reciting all reasons that the bad habit is bad for you. Tell yourself concrete positive things you should do instead.
Your bad habit will not persist for long.
Click here to see some bad habits you can start working on today.