The best advice is usually the advice we ignore! That’s the message from psychologist Martha Beck, who says people often pay her big bucks for advice that seems like it should be obvious. But instead of listening, many go back to doing the same things that caused them problems. Beck says it’s not until people actually follow these tips that their lives change! For example:
- What makes you feel bad, do less of. And what makes you feel good, do more of. Sounds easy, right? In fact, studies show that when given a choice between picking food - or an electric shock - even worms learn to always choose the food! But Beck says people tend to over-think things, and we come up with reasons why we “deserve” our version of an electric shock. It’s like thinking, “I worked hard, so I deserve this cigarette or this pint of ice cream.” Instead, Beck recommends pausing before taking any action, and asking: “How did this make me feel the last time I tried it?” Because if ice cream always leaves you feeling guilty and bloated, that should be a cue to stop eating it!
- Get more sleep. Research shows that most people who complain about weight gain, depression, anxiety, or wild mood swings tend to have one thing in common: they’re all chronically tired! That’s why Beck says no matter how complicated your problems feel, the fix could be as simple as taking more naps. Because even napping for just 10 minutes is a proven way to energize your body, sharpen your mind, and boost your mood.
- To achieve big goals, take small steps. Beck says professional runners know that the quickest way to run uphill is to slow your pace, and take smaller steps. That’s because the runners who try to rush to the top put too much stress on their bodies, and end up getting winded or hurt! So, take the same approach with any goal you have – whether it’s losing weight, or writing a novel. For example, instead of aiming to lose 10 pounds, set a goal to lose just one pound in a week. Beck says by cutting big goals into smaller, easier steps, you’re more likely to achieve them.
- When you don’t know what to say, try telling the truth! Like when a friend invites you out to dinner, do you make up an excuse about being too busy with work? Or, do you admit that you’re just too tired to go out? Beck says telling the truth can be hard for some people, because it may mean hurting someone’s feelings – or admitting weakness. But think about it: If you lie, you’ll damage your relationships. If you tell the truth, Beck says you’ll have stronger relationships, because you’ll be surrounded by friends who understand you better.
Want to go further? You can find more of Martha Beck’s life-changing advice in her book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.