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The homo economicus view of human beings states that we think and choose unfailingly well, and we fit within the text book picture of economists.
According to economists we will choose what's best for us.
Clearly, this is not the case. Research in psychology and behavioral economics proves we are very, very irrational creatures.
On one hand (I like to call this our long term self / rational mind) we know what's best for us. We know we shouldn't overeat, drink and smoke.
On the other hand (I like to call this our short term self / irrational mind) we're highly impulsive and succumb to temptations all the time.
We could also call these two minds our cold and hot sides. Cold being rational and hot being irrational. A temptation then is anything we consume more of when we're hot/irrational/short sighted.
Here's the challenge: Right now (2:45 EST on Friday), I feel pretty good. No cravings. I plan on going to the gym later on and I feel focused and on point.
However, in 3 hours when I plan on going to the gym, I might feel tired. Being tired helps our irrational mind get louder. So does being hungry. So does being anxious.
Research has proven, and we obviously don't need research to prove this, we grossly underestimate how we'll feel and act when we're tempted - which in turn, wakes up the hot/irrational part of our brain.
Right now junk food isn't in front of me. I'm thinking rationally. I'm good to go.
But, if you put my favorite treats in front of me (I'm not even going to write them) it would be an entirely different ball game.
A few lessons can be learned:
1. Don't have any temptations near you. In your house, car, desk, whatever.
2. Tell your loved ones / friends / etc., that you're on a mission and that you'd appreciate if they didn't bring you your favorite treats or keep them around.
3. Protect yourself from getting irrational. Remember: Hungry, tired, and anxious are the 3 killers.
4. Don't go where there will be temptations! Sometimes we can't control this but many times we can. A client told me how she read an article about doughnuts in the LA Times and all day long she was thinking about doughnuts. Why do that to yourself?
Don't underestimate how hot you can really get! But see, right now, we're cold so we'll rationalize and say things like "Na, I'm good! I'll be fine!"
Remember, Tiger Woods destroyed his career as soon as he landed in Las Vegas because clearly he can't control himself and he knew that. We all know our weaknesses.
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