The world is full of information and the information in the world is more readily available than any other time in human history.
When it comes to information on how to live a healthy life, there are endless tips and advice on what and what not to eat, what the best exercise is to achieve the physical look you want, what the best strategy is to achieve a perfect night’s sleep and how to perfect the work/life balance.
Most, but not all of the information is produced by experts in the field of health and wellbeing, with many years of experience of helping people achieve the health of their dreams.
So with so much information being delivered by so many experts, why are so many people suffering from poor health? Is the information wrong? Is the information not being delivered properly to the right people? Or is it, people are taking in the information and then failing to act on it?
As a health coach myself I have read countless articles and books on what it means and takes to be healthier. I have engaged with experts in the health industry and learnt from them the best way to deliver the right information to my clients.
So why is it some people take the information given to them and use it to live healthy lives, where others don’t and stay where they are with regards their health? In some cases people become less healthy after learning what it is they have to do.
This is not just limited to the health industry, it happens it all fields of learning. People get provided with the same education, the same information and advice, but end up using or not using the knowledge provided.
It has been found to truly learn something you have to implement what it is you learn for it to become knowledge. Action is needed for any information to be useful to you.
“Intelligence is the proper application of information and knowledge. Most people are not intelligent because they don’t apply what they learn. They aren’t hypercritical about what they let influence them. They haven’t developed a framework and set of values for determining what is a waste of time and what isn’t." Ben Hardy
Learning can be defined as making a permanent change in your cognition and or behaviour. It’s not learning if it doesn’t lead to a change in how you see and live in the world.
Gathering information is not learning. Doing the same thing over and over and over isn’t learning.
You must have emotional and transformational experiences that change how you operate and see the world. You must grow in understanding and intelligence.
So how do you best implement what you have learnt? The following are 6 mind skills you can master to help make the most of what you learn.
Mindfulness- the awareness of context and changes within that context (patterns, themes, connections, predictions). In other words being aware of what is going on around you. Recognising the power that your surroundings and situations have on what actions you perform.
“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us” Dr Marshall Goldsmith.
When you become mindful of your environment and more aware of what and who is around you, you become sensitive to the energetic effects of people, places and things. Not only will you start to notice how your surroundings influence your body, mind and emotions, but you will also notice any changes in your environment.
Having regard for your health, habits and behaviours will determine long-term changes for the better or worse. Habits and behaviours occur when a trigger occurs (e.g. you walk into the kitchen and smell a cake being baked, increasing your desire to eat cake, which wasn’t there before you entered the kitchen).
Mindfulness will help you notice, understand and deal with triggers that can occur subconsciously throughout your day.
Discernment- the ability to recognise and anticipate the consequences of the patterns and triggers around you, and to know what to do as a result. Discernment means you are aware of the implications of what you are observing and therefore you can predict where certain habits and actions will take you.
When you develop the mind skill of discernment, you can then make better choices, because you have both information and intuition. You can not have discernment without first observing and paying attention.
Too many people try to apply good health habits without first understanding what is going on around them, not considering the influence that certain people, locations and situations have on the actions they perform.
When beneficial health habits need to be followed, they become derailed by things that could have been avoided if they just took time to observe and pay attention to them.
This can lead to decision overload and decision fatigue. Trying to decide what the right thing to do at that particular time. Discernment can help you make the right decisions in advance.
Action- Your life and who you become is entirely shaped by the quality of your decision making. If you are not mindful and discerning, you will not make the right decisions. It all starts with a simple decision to act.
Research by Stanford psychologist, BJ Fogg, found that small wins create enormous ripples of confidence. Confidence is a byproduct of positive action. Inspiration and creativity are byproducts of positive action.
Your beliefs indeed influence your behaviour. However, your behaviour far more profoundly influences your beliefs. When you behave a certain way, your beliefs about that thing change.
When you start to behave in a healthy way, you will start to believe that you can achieve the health goals you have set yourself. The opposite is also true. If you behave in a unhealthy way, you will create the belief that it is not possible to improve your health.
When you become mindful and discerning by making positive actions, your beliefs, behaviours and personality will change.
Expectancy- Three things must occur for you to have the motivation to achieve your goals. You first must believe you can do what takes to achieve your goal, secondly you must believe that you know how to achieve the goal, and finally you must believe that the rewards from achieving your goal is personally meaningful.
“You cannot expect to achieve new goals or move beyond your present circumstances unless you change”- Les Brown
Very few people implement the healthy habits and behaviours they know they should implement long-term.
Expect to fail if you fail to plan. Coming up with a goal is easy. Creating and executing the plan is the hard bit.
Following a plan and taking action towards your goal, will increase your confidence and expectancy of achieving it.
Knowing something and believing it are two different things. Just because a health expert has said that following a certain plan will produce the results you want, means nothing if you don’t believe that you can follow that plan to it’s conclusion.
Many people know what they should do, but they don’t believe it enough to actually do it. They don’t truly believe in themselves and their ability to change.
Their lack of belief stops them from taking the needed actions to create that change. Instead, they become cynical or justifying of their actions.
Feedback- Failure is feedback. If you want to learn, therefore change, you have to accept feedback. Good or bad.
Feedback is how you change your mind and behaviour. The more immediate feedback you get, the faster you will learn. Without feedback you could continue negative patterns.
Constant feedback tells us what actions to change for the results we want. With the right feedback you will be able to create the right healthy environment.
The right environment will get you to take action, be more honest with yourself, take more responsibility, and become more proactive.
This will only happen if you allow feedback on what you are currently doing and what you have to start doing. Feedback will help you stay on the right track, so you achieve what you set out to achieve.
Adapt- Once you’ve developed confidence in your ability to learn and adapt — in your ability to mindfully mine and discern new situations and environments — you’ll be far more willing to jump into new and demanding situations. You’ll be willing to fail and be humbled. You’ll seek more feedback.
‘If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration”- Ellen Langer
To achieve a different result you first must adapt to the changes needed for the different result to be achieved. By acting in a different way, you will eventually adapt to your new situation and the new change will become the norm.
When you stop adapting to new things, you stop learning. This can lead to apathy and boredom.
People stop adapting because their current environment supports their current decision making. They justify what they are doing and don’t believe they can adapt and change.
If you are willing to change your health for the better, you can change it. But you can’t change unless you are mindful of your environment, what and who is around you.
If you don’t learn the skills needed for change, you will be shaped by an environment created for you, not an environment that was created by you.
Your Health Coach, Chris