The disappointing stats about how well (or, not-so-well) people do at upholding new year’s resolutions made me think of the Staples advertising campaign that features the “easy” button.
How great would it be to be able to press a personal easy button to help stick to aims we’ve set for ourselves!
In theory, it’s awesome. In reality, it’s weak at best since, as the numbers reveal, developing new habits is anything but easy.
The idea of having a button to help navigate through life is, however, a concept that has great merit.
And if I were to design a button that displays just a single word that I think would have a meaningful impact on people, I would have it read “remember.”
Simply said, we need reminders—constantly, because our brains are wired to default to conditioned survivalist patterns. So, even when we are motivated to adopt new ways of being/thinking/behaving, if they aren’t implemented with amazing consistency, over time we will easily forget how to integrate the newly learned habits.
Fortunately, science offers the great news that the brain is highly malleable; it has the ability to re-wire and thus, we can override forgetfulness to bring about the changes we list in our new year’s (or anytime) aspirations.
Enter the “remember” button.
It is the mechanism by which we can minimize the tendency to resort to default (READ: undesired) habits. Essentially, once we tap our personal “remember” button, we create an opportunity for the brain to welcome new input/stimulus instead of rely on its usual course of action.
As you might imagine, the “remember” button isn’t an actual button you wear. Rather, it is a personally-designed technique that you practice often to create space in your brain.
It may sound like a foreign concept, but I bet you’ve witnessed it in action before…not by a human though.
I’m referring to when a dog twists and shakes its body and head vigorously, a.k.a., the “shake-off.”
As I’ve recently learned, a dog’s shake-off is considered a re-set. The shaking motion releases stressful energy so that the dog can proceed from a much more centered, refreshed state. In other words, space is created in the brain!
With the shake-off, dogs are able to activate their parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that cues us to slow down and relax sensation in the body) on demand.
This is highly instructive for humans because the ability to re-set allows us to remember better. If we can engage our parasympathetic nervous system on demand, it is less likely that we will be flooded with stressors that cause forgetfulness, thus pulling us back to default patterns.
Basically, if we want to forget less, we need to “shake” so we remember more.
Your “remember” button or version of shaking will likely look very different from a dog’s, but as long as you have a go-to technique that activates your “slow-down” system, your brain will be more available to adopt new and improved messages.
Doggone it, once you develop the use of your personal “remember” button, you just might find that it’s easy to shake off what’s between you and your aspirations!
To help you forget unhelpful default habits, here are some “remember” button ideas:
—Recite “I am breathing in (and inhale); I am breathing out” (and exhale) at least 5 times.
—Close your eyes and count to 10 silently.
—While inhaling, stretch your arms out from your sides to the ceiling/sky, hold at the top for a few seconds, then bring them back down slowly to your sides while exhaling, at least 3 times.
—Hold one hand on your belly and one on your chest for 20 seconds.
—Clench everything in your body from your fists to your toes, hold it all tightly and then release everything with a lion’s breath (big sigh and stick out tongue).
—Gently massage your face and neck.
—Wrap your arms around your chest in a tight hug.
—Mimic a dog and literally shake your body (not too vigorously).
Tell me which one(s) are just right for you, I’d love to hear!
And, if working with a “remember” button is foreign territory for you but seems worth exploring, let’s chat…if a dog has the ability to re-set, so should you!