Rationality for Habits
I read a New York Times Magazine article by Jennifer Kahn called “The Happiness Code”. Kahn spent time at the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) in Berkeley and reported on the experience.
The idea of tying rationality to happiness habits appeals to me. Many of my habits come about because of rationality—the fact that exercise is good for you, the fact that eating well is good for you, the fact that it’s easier for me to put my keys in the same place each night rather than running around looking for them, the fact that I remember things better when I write them down, and many more.
And I believe strongly in proactive positivity—the magic for happiness is in taking certain actions, not in hoping for something to magically happen.
Kahn says some of our problems are byproducts of our brain’s reward system. We cash checks quickly but drag our feet paying credit-card bills because cashing a check makes us feel good and paying a bill makes us stressed. Understanding this may help us to adopt better habits.
She also points out because long-term goals typically require sticking it out through a series of unpleasant intermediate steps, it can be easy to lose the original motivation—yet another reason to break down big goals into tiny pieces, small enough to turn into habits by focusing on them for 21 days.
Kahn’s takeaway from her time at CFAR was finding herself experimenting more and noting the results, positive or negative. For example, she found signing up and paying for spin classes in advance helped her to exercise more.
How do you feel about rationality and your happiness? Please join the conversation with your comments…