Keep things simple

This week I came across a paper in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine entitled “The Mediating Role of Reasoned-Action and Automatic Processes from Past-to-Future Behaviour”.

What a title hey?

Some people may have guessed by reading that title, that the article is about habits and how they affect your future outcomes. However, I am sure there are many people who would come across the title and would have been either baffled or think that it is discussing a ridiculously complex theory which they can only hope to grasp.

The funny thing is, it’s a really simple concept. It is some thing that we are all familiar with and can easily comprehend. The article basically says, the habits you have (and have had) in the past, are a great indicator of what your health will look like in the future. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if you emotionally eat, you are likely to consume extra calories on a regular basis and become overweight.

The article for me highlights 2 things:

  1. We like to make things more complicated than they need to be, and...
  2. The importance of habit. Most of the things we do are done out of habit; largely from the way we react to external stimuli.

When we run a project at Don’t Tone Alone CIC, habit is what we are essentially focussing on. Our nutrition projects via Fit By Phone or in-person workshops, focus on habit. Exercise services look at building in exercise routines and habits. Mindfulness projects look at how we can take a second to become self-aware, observe how we feel, take note the external stimuli, and stop before we (guess what?)… Perform a habit.

Yet if we just said we are going to change peoples’ habits, would projects have an uptake? Would people commit and introspectively look at what they could do better? People want to know what foods to eat, what exercises give the fastest results, and life-hacks to lose weight.

Is it easier to provide information on the dangers of the external stimuli rather than look at what we do when encountered with those decisions? Is it easier to disassociate the problem from ourselves and make carbohydrates or bad genes the enemy? After all that way we have an excuse.

Sometimes the solution to our problems is staring us in our face. It is so simple, so easy to change, and so completely within our grasp, we do not recognise it as a viable option. Maybe because it would require an honest conversation with ourselves, and responsibility to be assumed. Maybe “it’s complicated” is the best excuse we have. Our advice is to keep it simple.