Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Coaching

Good Habits, Bad Habits (Best-selling author Dr. Wendy Wood) - #065

January 06, 2020 Dr. Wendy Wood Season 3 Episode 1
Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Coaching
Good Habits, Bad Habits (Best-selling author Dr. Wendy Wood) - #065
Chapters
Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Coaching
Good Habits, Bad Habits (Best-selling author Dr. Wendy Wood) - #065
Jan 06, 2020 Season 3 Episode 1
Dr. Wendy Wood

Are you looking to eliminate some of your bad habits or start some positive new ones this year? Look no further than this intriguing interview with best-selling author and researcher Dr. Wendy Wood. She shares new ways in which we can amplify the positive and drop the negative ones like a bad... well, habit! Outstanding, practical advice for all of us as we look toward #BetterThanYesterday

Show Notes Transcript

Are you looking to eliminate some of your bad habits or start some positive new ones this year? Look no further than this intriguing interview with best-selling author and researcher Dr. Wendy Wood. She shares new ways in which we can amplify the positive and drop the negative ones like a bad... well, habit! Outstanding, practical advice for all of us as we look toward #BetterThanYesterday

Dr. Cooper:

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper, and the topic of the discussion today is habits. What if I told you the key to eliminating bad habits or implementing good habits wasn't willpower or determination? What if there i s a relatively simple step any of us could take or help our clients take t hat would automate the habits we desire and eliminate the ones we don't? Today's guest is Dr. Wendy Wood. She is a professor of psychology i n business at the University of Southern California and is the author of an outstanding new book titled Good Habits, Bad Habits, the science of making positive changes that stick. Clearly, effective behavior change is at the heart of of everything we do in health and wellness. So we're obviously very pleased when Dr. Wood agree to join us and share some of h er insights around her research and the book that she's written. With 2020 right here, upon us right now, it's hard to believe the next wellness coach certification in Colorado on February 8th and 9th is just around the corner too . As of this recording, we do currently have space available but the fast track programs, the ones we do here in Colorado are limited to just 24 people and they have been filling early. So if you've been pondering pursuing your wellness coach certification or you want to pursue the national board exam before their requirements increase, you might want to check on that soon and there is the six month no interest option when you go through registration that we do with PayPal if that helps. All the details at CatalystCoachingInstitute.com and of course you can always reach out to us with any questions at Results@CatalystCoachingInstitute.com thanks for joining us. Now let's listen in on the conversation with Dr. Wendy Wood on this episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching podcast. Dr. Wood, welcome to the show.

Dr. Wood:

Oh, thanks for having me, Brad.

Dr. Cooper:

I loved your book and we'll talk a lot about that, but can you start us off by telling us how did you end up focusing your research on habits of all topics?

Dr. Wood:

Well, I didn't actually start looking at habits. I was a researcher who is trained to study attitude change, how we change our beliefs and opinions. And it became clear early on that people are reasonably open to change at the level of their attitudes and beliefs. It's much harder to get people to change their behavior. So even if you have a wonderfully persuasive message that captures their values and makes them look at the world slightly differently, it doesn't necessarily translate into behavior change. And that's when I started to think about what behavior change involves and how we can persist or not at changing our behavior. And that's where habits came in. So habits are the way people naturally persist. So when you are successful at changing your behavior and making it stick, that's usually because you formed a habit. That doesn't necessarily involve a change in your opinion. Instead, habits follow a slightly different logic. So that explains why many of us are really good at thinking through what we want to do in the future for our health. So new year's resolutions, the top ones have to do with diet, exercise. People, when swimsuit season comes, we all make resolutions. We're going to change our diet, we're going to become healthy, look fit, but then so many of us don't follow through and that becomes frustrating for people. So I wanted to understand what that follow through thing involves and that's habit.

Dr. Cooper:

Okay. And you note in your book, and by the way folks, this book is fantastic. It's titled Good Habits, Bad Habits. We were up on a planning retreat this last week and I took a deep dive into it. You're going to love it. Now in that book you talk about habits aren't really something we control. There's not the grit your teeth bare down, white knuckling. It's things we've automated. Can you talk us through that concept and how maybe it differs from the typical perspective on habits?

Dr. Wood:

Yeah, so habits are, as you said, part of our non-conscious mind. We don't have access to them. We're not aware of them in the same way that we are aware of our thoughts and our feelings. Habits are learned over time as we repeat an action in the same way. And we form mental associations between the context we're in and the response we just gave that got us some reward. So when I get up in the morning, I walk into my kitchen and I just automatically start making coffee. I'm in the context in which I've done it in the past and the thought of making coffee automatically comes to mind. It's my habit. That's what a habit is. It doesn't require willpower and self control in the way that we typically think of behavior change. And it may take willpower to make a decision to change. But the habit learning process itself and once you've formed that habit requires no willpower. It's automated in the sense that it runs off without you having to make a decision to do so. It's how we drive. It's how we do so many of the repeated activities that we do in life. And one of the really interesting things that I've learned in the research I've done is that we are largely unaware of the extent to which our behavior is a habit. And instead we tend to interpret it as a result of our decisions or our intentions. What we should be doing. So many of your listeners may have habits to eat very healthy, lots of fruits and vegetables and they've probably made a decision at some point to do that. But once it becomes a habit, you no longer have to make that decision. But your conscious self, however, the conscious parts of your brain aren't aware of the habit component. And so you continue to think it's due to your decisions and attentions . It's such an interesting way our mind sort of covers up from us the functioning of habit.

Dr. Cooper:

Very interesting. We identified it as who you are versus what you do. The who you are is, is the way you're describing that is the habit. It's ingrained. It doesn't take conscious thought versus the what you do. Those are the things that you consciously must work through, plan out, put into your schedule, check off the box , those kinds of things. Am I hearing that correctly?

Dr. Wood:

Yes. Planning is part of our decision making, conscious selves and habits are part of the automated components that typically support our conscious selves, typically are consistent with it. And we have these different parts of ourselves because our brain is not a single unified whole . Instead, it evolved in parts over time and those parts work somewhat separately. I mean it's all interconnected in the end, but the systems in our brain can function somewhat independently of each other, which is why we have bad habits, things that we're doing that we wish we didn't and might plan not to do, but then fall back into when we're not really thinking about what we're doing.

Dr. Cooper:

Yeah . One of the analogies you had in your book that I just loved, it's so sticky, is the idea that forming a habit is like falling asleep. You're forming it, you're forming it , you're forming and forming it and then it's there. Same with when you fall asleep, you're kind of falling asleep, I think I'm feeling more tired and you don't realize that moment when you actually fall asleep. Can you expand on that just a little bit? I thought that was a really good way to think of the process.

Dr. Wood:

Yes, it's a good metaphor because when we form a habit, we're not aware of the habit forming. That learning that we're doing as part of habit formation is stored in parts of our brain that we just don't have access to. So once it becomes a habit, it's like we no longer can be aware of the process. It doesn't need our decision making. It doesn't need our thoughts. And so it's sort of like falling asleep. You just, it happens. So gradually over time you just let it work its way out. And then after a while you have a new habit.

Dr. Cooper:

Hmm , good, good. Now I didn't plan this order here. So environment, you talk about environment is key to good habits and similar to sleep, it's much easier to fall asleep in a good environment. So we roll into that. But when we think about environment with habits, what mistakes are many of us making in terms of optimizing those environments?

Dr. Wood:

Well, I think the biggest mistake is that we don't realize how much impact the environment has on us. You probably are aware that being in a noisy room with lots of bright lights is not a good way to fall asleep. But we think with our habits that we can overcome challenges in our environment, and I use the word friction to describe this, which actually echoes an early psychologist who argued that there are psychological forces that function very much like physical forces. This is Kurt Lewin and the psychological forces in this case are the environments that we're in can put friction on our behavior and make it more difficult. And let me give you an example. A phone company tracked cell phones. They weren't actually interested in the use. They were interested in how far cell phones traveled to a paid fitness center, our cell phones are getting evaluated at all kinds of ways we're not aware of. But this study looked at how the distance traveled to paid gyms and found that cell phones, or people, who had to travel five or more miles to a fitness center only went once a month. But those who were traveling only about three and a half miles, they went five times a month. So that's really just a difference of about a mile and a half, but it's the difference between being able to do something with little friction on it. If you can connect your visit to the gym with your commute to work or to the grocery store, if it's close by home, then it's very convenient and you're just much more likely to go. If it's quite a distance and you have to travel far to get there, that's friction. There's friction in distance and that makes it less likely that we are going to follow through with a given behavior and repeat it so that it becomes automatic. It becomes our habit and we just don't give the environmental forces that we're all dealing with enough credit. We think we can overcome them, but we can't.

Dr. Cooper:

Interesting. And so the opposite of that, or I guess you kind of talked about both of these, you have friction and you have stacking and those seem to be the core to your guidance in this area. Is that, is that correct?

Dr. Wood:

Yeah. So friction are the forces that make a behavior more difficult. Let me give you another example of that. In the US in the 1970s we became very aware that smoking is bad for our health and we started taxing cigarettes. We banned smoking in public places. We took cigarettes off the shelf , so you have to actually ask someone in the store for a pack so they can check your age. All of these things put friction on purchase and smoking and that reduced smoking a tremendous amount so that now only about 15% of us smoke, whereas before it was almost half. It's an amazingly successful health intervention and it just simply arose from friction, putting friction on the behavior. There's other forces though, as you said in our environment that helped to drive that behavior that make it easier. One of them is proximity, being very close to some exercise or healthy food and that can drive you to a healthier lifestyle. A recommendation is often that you take all of the cookies and candy off the kitchen counter, put it away and make healthy food more accessible so that it's easier for you to access it and use it. And you'd be surprised how much more likely you are to eat healthy things that are close to you. There's actually been studies where people have big bowls of popcorn and Apple slices and if the popcorn is right in front of them and the Apple slices they have to reach, then they eat three times as many calories as when the reverse is true. And the Apple slices are right in front of them and the popcorn is where they have to reach . So these are very subtle differences, but they are enough to put friction on our behavior and drive what we do. And you mentioned another driving force, which is stacking . And if you're trying to form a new habit, this is a useful way to do so. It's an interesting hack that we have found in our own research. And that is if you take a behavior that's already automated in some way and you just add a new behavior to it, you're much more likely to form a habit with the new behavior. Because in a way you're taking advantage of the existing automaticity, the learning you've already done. And an example of this is with medical compliance. So we've all gotten pills forgotten to take them, but if you put them on your nightstand or next to your toothbrush, you are in a way stacking so that you are taking advantage of your toothbrushing habit to remind you to take your medication. Or you're taking advantage of your routine of getting into bed at night or getting up in the morning to take your meds. So again, these are ways of inserting the medication into an existing routine and making it easier to remain adherent to actually take them as your doctor has prescribed.

Dr. Cooper:

Right, right. I love this stuff. This is so critical. I mean, our audience, their lives, whether they're coaches or not, their lives are about this concept of behavior change. And you're giving us some tools that aren't, we're not sitting there going, oh my gosh, I could never do that. We're sitting here saying, well, I can do that. Well , that makes sense. This is great. This is fantastic. Okay. You take the 21 day myth to task. What do we know about the importance of frequency and duration? Kind of two related concepts. Walk us through maybe where the 21 day myth came from, if there was some origin to it and then from my memory of reading the book, it depends on what you're doing. That 21 day adjusts depending on if it's this type of change or that type of change.

Dr. Wood:

Exactly. The 21 day description of how long it takes to form a habit. It's a wonderful idea, right? We can do anything for 21 days, so it's very doable. The trouble is there's no data behind it. It seems to have come from a self help book in the 1960s that described how long it takes people to get used to their new physical appearance after plastic surgery, which has very little to do with habit formation. Instead, we do have data from more recent, much more recent research , by Pippa Lally on how long it takes people to form a simple health habit. Now these were people who were coached to choose a specific behavior like drinking a glass of water when you get up in the morning or going for a walk after dinner and they were told to embed it in part of their life routine. So they're already taking advantage of stacking, right? So when I get up in the morning, I'm going to have a glass of water or right after dinner I'm going to go for a walk. Even when people are taking advantage of existing routines like this, it takes two to three months to make behaviors really automatic so that you're not thinking about doing them anymore. So they become sort of incorporated into your life. And you're absolutely right, this is just for simple health behaviors. Things like going to the gym are much more complicated and so will take longer to learn. They're just going to take longer to become automatic and probably they're never going to be completely automatic. Cause there's a few different things we do, like if it's raining out, you might decide to go to the gym. Whereas what if it's really sunny and lovely. You might decide to go running outside, so there's still decision-making that is intertwined with our habits for these more complex behaviors.

Dr. Cooper:

And if we up the frequency, does that reduce the duration? Is it a, is it a multiple?

Dr. Wood:

If you do it more reliably, more consistently, yes, you're going to form a habit faster than if you do it only occasionally, but one of the really positive messages from that research is that you can skip a day or two and your habit memory will still be there so that you can go back to it after a day or two and start building almost where you left off, and this is because of an interesting feature about habits is that they form and change only very slowly. In fact, some researchers think we never really forget established habits that they're always going to be with us and we just have to be in the right context again and the old habit will be activated.

Dr. Cooper:

Hmm. Interesting. All right , so surprises. What biggest surprises or some of the biggest surprises that you discovered about habits as you're going through this, that you thought, wait, what?

Dr. Wood:

Well, one of the, one of the more interesting things I think is rewards. So we all know rewards are important. They get us to do things repeatedly. That's the definition of something that we find rewarding. It'll get us to do the same thing again. But rewards are very important for habit formation for several reasons. One is if you like something, you're much more likely to repeat it. But also when we get rewarded, there is a release of dopamine in our brain that ties together the information that's currently there. So when you get rewarded, your brain starts to tie together the context you're in and the response you just gave to get that reward. And that's why I call habits a kind of a mental shortcut. They're your best guess when you're in a context of what to do in order to get the reward that you got in the past. So there's sort of mental shortcuts and what I think is so interesting about that is two things. There's two very practical implications. One is if you don't like something, it's not going to easily form into a habit. So if you're working with folks who just hate to exercise, exercise is going to be a challenging habit for them to form. They're not going to repeat a behavior often enough. And if they do, they're not going to get the neuro transmitter of dopamine working in ways that's going to help them form a habit. So what you need to do is figure out how to make things more fun. I used to be a runner and my back started to hurt, so I now use an elliptical and there is nothing more boring than working out on an elliptical. I hated it until I figured out that I can watch stupid TV shows that I would never normally watch. And I only watch them when I'm using the elliptical and it's actually become a really fun thing. So I look forward to it. This terrible, terrible, boring activity has become something that's fun in my day. And I clearly have a habit where I use an elliptical for about an hour a day. And that for me is a great solution to the exercise challenge that we all have. There's something else though that's interesting about this, the way rewards work and that is the dopamine works for maybe less than a minute tying together the information that's currently in memory. Which means that rewards at the end of the month, at the end of the week for doing something, I'm going to have the same effect as the rewards you experience right now when you're doing it. So you have to really enjoy it in the moment, somehow. That often comes from feeling pride, right? Making the right health choices for yourself and figuring out some way to make boring exercise fun as I did or maybe finding a friend to exercise with who is fun to be around and talk to. So that you're experiencing rewards in the moment, really limits the kinds of rewards that will be effective for habit formation. But it fits all of the empirical data we have out there on longterm rewards that they just don't seem to have that much of fact when people are forming a habit. I get a reduction in my health insurance costs each month if I exercise and don't smoke. But honestly that doesn't have any impact on my exercising and smoking, that's not why I tried to live a healthy lifestyle. Those rewards are too far removed from the behavior to have much impact.

Dr. Cooper:

And does a reminder of a reward. So if I'm , uh , I dunno , doing my first 5K does a reminder that, oh yeah, that race is coming or I'm doing this fun thing with my family, does that give us a little dopamine shot? Or is it a completely different response we're talking about there?

Dr. Wood:

It can, sure. But the issue is that you're not always going to be reminded when you work out and you're not always going to be thinking of how much faster your time is now than it was when you started or how proud your family is going to be of you when you run this race. It's more reliable. It's a better idea to have the reward be part of the activity itself.

Dr. Cooper:

Sure, sure. No, that makes sense. All right . Is there a difference between best ways to eliminate a bad habit versus start a good habit, or are they essentially always two sides of the same coin?

Dr. Wood:

Ah , the answer to that is actually quite complicated.

Dr. Cooper:

Well, let's do it.

Dr. Wood:

So I described how to form a new habit, right? You do something repeatedly in the same context for a reward and your brain starts to connect the context and the response so that that then becomes your go to response. But that happens over time, right? It takes time to form that new habit. Once the habit is formed, rewards are much less important because now the behavior is queued by the context you're in. So in my example of getting up in the morning and making coffee, I'm not worrying about whether I'm going to get a reward or whether I particularly want coffee this morning. How tired am I? Do I really need coffee? That discussion just doesn't happen. I wake up, I make coffee because I'm there and I'm cued. I'm not thinking about the outcome. And the same thing is true with other habits after we formed them, the outcome is less important. I ran a study at one point in a campus theater where we gave people a bag of freshly popped popcorn, which was okay, we're not the best popcorn makers . They only said it was okay and then other people got a bag of stale popcorn and this was really stale popcorn. It had been in our lab for a week in a plastic, so you can imagine what it was like. It was pretty disgusting. People who had habits to eat popcorn in the movie theater. They ate the stale, the fresh popcorn, it didn't matter. They could tell us they hated the stale popcorn , but they ate it anyway. They ate 70% of that bag, which is a stunning outcome. And what this demonstrates is that you can take the rewards away for a habitual action. You can even make it sort of punishing and still people don't respond that quickly to the new information, the new outcome that they're getting. So outcomes don't make that much difference. Once you've formed a habit, it's not easy to get rid of that habit memory. Remember I said that they change only slowly. That habit memory is still there, even if the popcorn tastes bad and it's still cueing your eating. What does work for habits, for changing unwanted habits, is changing the cues , changing the context cues. So we took those participants and we brought them into the lab. We took them out of the cinema, brought them into the lab, and we had them watch music videos in a darkened room by themselves. And some participants had stale popcorn, some had fresh. The effect was no longer there . Both people with habits to eat popcorn in the movie cinema and people who didn't have habits to popcorn in the movie cinema, they all spurned our stale popcorn. They weren't going to eat it. They ate only the fresh popcorn suggesting that the popcorn eating habit wasn't activated in the laboratory context. They were making decisions based on what they liked and didn't like, which is what happens when we get into new context. So at times when people move, start a new job, start a new relationship, have kids, these are all times when we're feeling pretty overwhelmed, but they are also times when it's, we have an opportunity to form new habits because our old behavior is not being cued in quite the same way as it was in our earlier circumstances. So changing the cues is very helpful to changing habits. The other thing that's helpful,

Dr. Cooper:

Wait before we go to the next one, because you've got me thinking here, so would it make sense to encourage people to try a new habit as they're going on to vacation? As long as it's not something that's gonna ruin their vacation, obviously, but okay, we're going to go to such and such a place that you enjoy. Why don't we make the week you start X, Y,Z ? Would that increase their odds of holding onto that because you're completely changing everything else? You don't have that cueing that caused you to naturally grab the big cup of coffee or to skip the run or to whatever it might be.

Dr. Wood:

Exactly, yes. And that should work well. In fact, there's data suggesting it does work while people are away, but then of course they get back to their old environment and our old habits, as I said, we don't relearn them. We learn new ones on top of them. Those old memories are still there. Yeah.

Dr. Cooper:

Interesting. So it can help you get a springboard, but then you need to come back and make some adjustments to your old setting to eliminate or at least impact those cues that you had in place previously.

Dr. Wood:

Exactly. You'd need to set driving forces on your new habit and put some friction on the old behavior, the one you're trying to change. So that's the second way to do it. You can change the cues and you can deal with these driving and resisting forces in our environments, in our living environments.

Dr. Cooper:

Hmm. Very interesting. All right. Let's flip the mirror around. How about you? Your own life? We've all got stuff we're working on. How are you using your research to address a habit in your own life that you wouldn't mind sharing with us, that you're using this research to make your own adjustments.

Dr. Wood:

I have an example of something I did recently. This was a successful habit formation and that was writing a book. Writers have some of the best habits to study, right? They have to somehow motivate themselves day after day to keep turning out pages and pages of manuscript and you don't do that by white knuckling it through. Instead, they all have habits, writing habits. They write in certain places. They write certain amounts each day or maybe for a certain time each day. They have formed these patterns that allow them to do it over and over again and it's one of the first things that I started to study when I was writing this book because I wanted to take advantage of the insights and they are doing this naturally. They're doing it without understanding how habits work or what it is they're doing. It's just what works for them. And I was able to do that myself. I have a very supportive family, so they are okay with me waking up every morning and just starting writing and I would write for several hours until finally a few years later I had a book.

Dr. Cooper:

Hmm . Wow. And that was not a habit you had previously. You would not get up and write some of your research papers, you would not get up and work on class notes. This was a brand new approach to what you're doing with the book?

Dr. Wood:

Not with this intensity, no. I had to figure out how to structure my day so that I was reasonably happy, only reasonably because writing is very solitary. You have to do it by yourself. And I am used to being in much more of an interactive work environment where there's graduate students and there's other faculty and interesting speakers and you get to read all kinds of stuff. You get to teach classes. It wasn't that way at all. It was quite different.

Dr. Cooper:

Now with your book. I just want to jump in on something that caught my attention this morning. Your epilogue covers a topic that probably a very large percentage of our audience is saying. Yeah, I'd kinda like to do better with my phone. Can you talk us through some of the strategies for checking our phones less for having our phones be less of a dominant aspect of our lives. You cover it well in the epilogue, but just for the folks listening to this, can you give us some tips in that area?

Dr. Wood:

Yeah, I agree with you. This is a real challenge for a lot of people. We all check our phones on average over 50 times a day, which is a stunning number. It's crazy. I think the most painful times are when we're out at dinner, right? We could be enjoying conversation with other people, but instead we get a ping or a buzz or the phone rings and we're off down that rabbit hole of our phone. So many of us would, as you say, like to control its impact. And let me say that part of the reason that the phone is so compelling to us is because it builds on many of the components of habit formation, that we get rewards, but there are only occasional rewards. It has a structure and a way of engaging us that is very habit forming. And that's not an accident. Silicon Valley knows well how, how to structure their products so that we keep using them. But we can fight back. I think we all want phones, but we want them in moderation. We want to be able to be in control of them. And that involves changing a bad habit. And the bad habit in this case is checking it constantly, even in places where you should really be talking to your kids and the people you're having dinner with. So to make that happen, it's helpful to think of the two features that I mentioned before as being important in habit change. One is changing cues so that the old behavior isn't activated in the same way. And the second is putting some friction on phone use. So this would involve maybe leaving your phone at home when you go to dinner. Sounds wild, but you could do that. I know it's become such an accepted part of ourselves, but we could do that. We could leave it at home or we could turn it off. If you turn off the phone, you are putting friction on phone use so that you actually have to take, go through the steps to turn it on again in order to use it. At the least, you can turn off all those pings and buzzers and other things that attract us to the phone when we don't really want to be checking it. So making it more difficult to use your phone and changing the cues that your phone is all the time giving you to get you to look at it are the ways to corral, control that particular habit.

Dr. Cooper:

Love it. That's great stuff. And that was the first thing I thought of as I was reading through it was yeah, that's something I can address. It's an issue and I'm relatively controlled in that area, but it can get out of control. So well done. I was actually interviewed in a different podcast, somebody else's podcast today on some of the research I've been involved with and I actually quoted you and talked about some of this idea of friction and stacking and the idea of the phone . So well done. You've influenced two podcasts in one day, how do you like that one? Let's touch on one more and then we'll kind of have a broader wrap up question for you . You mentioned rewards with the phone and in the book you discuss the importance of the rewards varying so that they're more effective. Can you flesh that out for us a little bit?

Dr. Wood:

Yeah. This is something that we don't always have control over in our lives, but habits form most effectively with intermittent or occasional rewards. That's one of the reasons why gambling is so addictive that slot machines make it look like you're almost winning, but you don't win most of the time. In fact, if you did, casinos wouldn't be there.

Dr. Cooper:

Yeah, they wouldn't have those big buildings, would they ?

Dr. Wood:

No. So part of what our brain response to is unusual rewards, rewards that are bigger than normal and if you're playing the slot machine, the typical outcome is lots of buzzing and lights and other things that are entertaining and then you get close but you don't get the reward. And that in itself is kind of fun, but what makes it really fun is every once in a while you do get a pay off and that's what cements in the habit of staying there a little longer and putting more of your money in the slots . That's also how your phone functions because most of the time when we hear these buzzes and pings and we check our phone, all we're getting is just garbage.

Dr. Cooper:

Right? But every once in a while,

Dr. Wood:

There's something, some negative information that really is rewarding to us and that's what keeps us checking our phones.

Dr. Cooper:

Very interesting. This is so good. Any final words of wisdom, especially for the health and wellness coaches or folks that are helping other people try to improve their lives? Anything that I haven't teed up with the right question or something you'd like to get out there that you think would be helpful, we'd love to hear it.

Dr. Wood:

Well, I wrote this book because I was seeing a real gap between the science on habit and what's available in the popular press and the popular culture, because habits are part of our unconscious. We don't know much about them and we can't intuit how they work. This is something where I think we really have to rely on science. Our own experience is not reliable as an indicator of what's really gonna work for you in forming a new habit. Every once in a while we stumble across something that does work, but really understanding the foundation of why takes understanding of some of the science. So I hope that much of your audience will recognize that everybody has theories about their habits because we observe ourselves acting and others acting habitually . So we have theories about how they work and we have tried out some of those theories and probably have some data for some of them, but a real understanding of how people form habits throughout their daily life is easiest to get from the science literature. So that's what I hope people will start to realize. And I'm sure that in another decade there will be another science book on habit that provides newer insights beyond the ones that I was able to present in this book. And so we should all look forward to that.

Dr. Cooper:

Perfect. Well , loved it, again everybody the title of the book is Good Habits, Bad Habits, the science of making positive changes that stick, and great way to wrap things up because that's our focus here is we want to help these folks avoid the fads that are so prevalent in health and wellness these days and get into what does the science really say. So thanks for joining us. Wonderful having you keep us updated. What's the best way for folks to follow you? Is it on Twitter or do you have a website you'd like them to reference? What's your preference?

Dr. Wood:

People can follow me on Twitter @profWendyWood. I also have a website, GoodHabitsBadHabits.org or people can email me from my university email account. I'm happy to talk to anybody who wants further information.

Dr. Cooper:

Perfect. Well thank you again for joining us. This was wonderful,

Dr. Wood:

Lovely talking with you, Brad.

Dr. Cooper:

You already have a habit in mind that you're going to try to put all this into practice to address, don't you? So valuable and while I know some of you are probably listening to this later in the year, it was so nice having Dr. Woods join us now as we head into the new year when so many of us and so many of our clients are thinking about this idea of habits and changing them or addressing them or developing new ones. So wonderful timing and just so nice having her join us. Speaking of habits, let's talk social media. We have not historically made a habit of doing much in terms of providing information on the social media side, but we continue to have students ask us about it. So we're going to start providing some more health and wellness tips and insights in that format. So if that's your thing and you'd like to follow along, if you're on Twitter, you've got two options @Opticoaching, O P T I coaching, that's the one that's more focused on the coaching piece or @Employee_Health. That's the one that's more employer related, employee organizational related. If you're on Facebook, it's simply Catalyst Coaching Institute and if you're on Instagram, same thing, but no spaces. CatalystCoachingInstitute, no spaces, however, you can always reach out to us anytime the old school way . Email is Results@CatalystCoachingInstitute.com or access resources at CatalystCoachingInstitute.com. In the meantime, what's your better today? Thanks to Dr. Wood, we now have new strategies to move forward toward that better and help others do the same. Let's all make today count in that better journey. Thanks again for joining us. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper signing off. Make it a great rest of your day, and I'll speak with you soon. On the next episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching podcast.