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How to CHANGE your LIFE (Scientific Method to Change Habits)

How to CHANGE your LIFE (Scientific Method to Change Habits)


If you are like most people, there are a lot of things that you would like to change about yourself. Maybe you wish you could exercise every day of the week, or procrastinate less, or study instead of surfing the web, or get up early every morning, or stop smoking. In this video, I will show you the scientifically proven method to change your behaviors, your habits, and your life for good. What’s going on guys? Dr. J from MedSchoolInsiders.com Chances are that you’ve already read books, blog posts, and watched countless videos on how to build good habits in place of your bad habits. Problem is, you still have not changed because you’ve only been attacking the problem from one side. Here we will go over a scientific method to actually implement the changes that you want to see into your life. This video is based off an excellent book written by Dr. Sean Young titled “Stick With It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life – For Good.” If you like the content in this video, you will definitely enjoy the book. Link is in the description below. Now there are two steps to the process for creating lasting change. First, you must identify the type of behavior you are trying to change. Second, once you have determined the behavior type, use the appropriate techniques and methods to elicit change. So step one, Identify the Behavior Type. The ABC’s describe the three types of behaviors. First is Automatic Automatic behaviors are those behaviors that we do without conscious awareness. It is almost impossible to stop ourselves because we are not even aware that we are doing them. They are therefore the most firmly engrained behaviors. Examples would be biting your nails or unconsciously slouching with poor posture. Next are Burning Behaviors. This refers to those activities you do because of an irresistible urge. Burning behaviors are the second most ingrained behaviors because of feelings that seem impossible to resist. Examples include constantly checking your phone for Instagram likes or checking your phone for emails, or feeling the need to play a video game. The third type is Common. Common behaviors are the most common behaviors that people try to change. These are the least engrained but are still difficult to change. We do them repeatedly and consciously. An example would be wanting to eat junk food rather than exercising or hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock. Step two, Implement the Appropriate Techniques Now that you’ve identified whether your unwanted behavior is an automatic, burning, or common behavior, the next step is to utilize the appropriate forces to elicit a change. There are a total of 7 techniques in your toolbox, and the easy way to remember them is with the acronym SCIENCE. That stands for Stepladders, Community, Important Easy Neurohacks Captivating and Engrained. Now let’s go over each one in order. First are Stepladders. Dr. Young suggests a three tiered model: Steps, Goals, and Dreams. We all have lofty goals, ambitions, and dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s critical that you understand that having dreams is not what will push you through the day-to-day that life puts in your path. Dreams are lofty goals such as becoming a plastic surgeon or a movie star. Goals are more quantifiable and would be something like getting 1 million subscribers on your YouTube channel. Steps are even smaller, bite-sized chunks that direct you in achieving your goals and your dreams. If you focus on your goal to become a physician, that will motivate you, but it will not last. You will end up planning large steps that are so big that they can’t quite get done, you will get discouraged, and you will quit. Science shows that people have a better chance of success by focusing on small steps. And when I say small, I mean tiny. So if you want to be a doctor, start small and break it up into steps. Rather than completely focusing on getting into medical school or residency, instead break the task down. You need better grades. How do you do that? Study more effectively. And how do you do that? Start by doing two hours of Pomodoro per day for one week. Then next week, go up to three hours of Pomodoro every day. Or maybe start doing flashcards every day but still, start small with just 10, then 20, then 30 cards per day. Start small and slowly build. Number two is Community Dr. Young breaks down the science of why cults are so effective and turns it around to teach us how to train ourselves to implement good habits. Effective communities yield great power in influencing us to change our behaviors. These effective communities utilize six principles The Need to Trust because when people trust other community members, they become more willing to learn, they are more open-minded, and they are more willing to change The Need To Fit In People need to feel like they fit in with this community of people. The Need For Self-worth People will keep doing things that make them feel good about themselves. Building on this improves self-esteem and keeps members motivated. The Need for a Social Magnet This is a symbolic magnetic draw between community members and keeps them working towards a common goal. The Need to Be Rewarded People like being rewarded for good behavior. and The Need to Feel Empowered People need to feel like they are in control of their lives to satisfy this need. So how can you implement this in your life? Let’s take exercise – to implement community with exercise, you could either join an online community on reddit or a fitness website like Scooby’s Workshop or you can find a group of work out buddies in the gym that align with your goals. Three is Important Conventional wisdom says that there are “motivated people” and others who are “lazy.” If you’ve been unable to go to bed early or watch less TV, or eat more healthfully, you may consider yourself lazy. But scientific research shows that this is not accurate at all. The problem may be that you just didn’t understand the importance of doing it. People are more likely to change if they’re motivated and understand that the behavior change is important. What things do people find important? The three biggest ones are Money, Social Connections, And Health. If you can tie your behavior change to one of these three, you will impart it with great importance and increase the likelihood of being successful with your desired behavior change. Only you can decide what is important to you. For me, I exercise regularly because its important to my health and to social connections. Being stronger allows me to do the fun activities I want to do, it prevents illnesses and injuries, it makes me feel more energetic and happier, and I look better with my shirt off. Number four, Easy. Once upon a time, a man named Joseph Coulombe owned a convenience store, but a 7-Eleven opened in his neighborhood and he was having a tough time keeping up. Growing frustrated and unable to change customer behavior so that they would patronize his stores, he took a vacation. He went to the Caribbean, where life was easy. It was easy to think, easy to drink, and easy to make decisions. There was one restaurant within walking distance from his hotel, and the Hawaiian-shirted waiters were happy to direct him to the limited list of places to visit and sightsee. Joseph realized he needed to bring this lifestyle to his stores. How could he do this? By making the shopping process easier. Rather than offering customers a variety of options as to what they could eat or drink, he would offer a few high quality targeted selections. He rebranded his store as Trader Joes. Next time you shop at Trader Joe’s, the floral patterned shirts of the employees will remind you that it was all inspired by Joe’s trip to the Caribbean. The moral of the story is make things easy. This is one that I have mentioned multiple times on this YouTube channel. People want to do things that are easy for them. Small changes in the environment can make big changes in your behavior. It’s easy to eat healthfully if you don’t stock cookies and chips in your pantry at home. It’s easier to go to the gym if it’s on your way back from work and you’ve already packed your gym bag the night before. This is one of my personal favorites because of how powerful it truly is. It’s easy for me to use a standing desk at home because I simply do not have the option to sit when I’m working. Number five, Neurohacks. Dr. Young describes Neurohacks as shortcuts to reset your brain. Conventional wisdom teaches us that behavior change begins in the mind. Change the way you think, and then you will change the way you act. But Instead Dr. Young suggest that you make a small change in your behavior and let your mind reflect on that change. You’re exploiting the importance of self-identity in our behavior. If you want to be a nicer person, don’t tell yourself you’re a good person. Just start helping others and you will become a good person, and the self-identity will make it much easier for you to stay a good person. When Benjamin Franklin was running for his second term as a clerk, one of his peers delivered a long speech that attempted to ruin Ben’s reputation. Mr. Franklin ingeniously used a neurohack to win over his enemy. Knowing that the man proudly owned a rare book, Ben contacted the man and asked to borrow it. Flattered by the request, the man quickly sent the book over and Ben wrote a nice thank-you note in return. This small act changed their entire relationship dynamic. The man realized Ben wasn’t an enemy, because enemies don’t loan each other books or act graciously. This changed his identity and he began to see himself as Ben’s friend rather than his foe. The man was now committed to doing nice things for his friend Ben. In an interesting study, researchers had two groups of students listen to the same advertisement. One group nodded their heads up and down while listening, while the other group shook their heads from side to side. The group that nodded their heads rated the ad much more positively. This goes to show how our behaviors can influence our perceptions. So how do you apply this powerful technique to your life? If you want to stop procrastinating, then start a self-help group or podcast on how to stop procrastinating. It’s hard to procrastinate yourself when you’re the leader of a group that teaches others not to procrastinate. There’s much more to neurohacks beyond what I can cover in this video, and I recommend you read the book to learn more. Six, Captivating. People respond to rewards, but not just any reward. The trick is that the reward needs to feel incredibly powerful – captivating. There are multiple things that can serve as captivating rewards. From social rewards to psychological to good health, freedom, and independence, the list goes on. Here are five methods you can use to actually make something captivating. Make doing the “Right Thing” fun. Most of us believe that doing the right thing can’t be fun, like eating healthfully. Number two, use the carrot instead of the stick. Fear motivates people only for a short while. Positive incentives are much more powerful. Three, money is not the best reward. Money is rewarding for some people, and only up to a certain point. Number four, forget using education by Itself. Educating people on the toxic effects of smoking is not enough to get them to stop. And number five, make the activity itself rewarding. This can be done by gamifying the actual activity, or by providing social capital, self-esteem, and fun by participating And number seven, Engrained. The last force is to engrain the habit. Our brains are amazingly efficient. We try to make tasks easy. Driving to work or school takes very little thought and effort because the brain has recognized this pattern and easily places you on autopilot The secret to making things engrained in the brain is repetition. if you can do the same thing, at the same place, at the same time, every single day, you are telling your brain that this is important, needs to be remembered – start making this easy for me. If you want to meditate every day, build a habit and set an alarm every morning that alerts you its time to meditate. Pairing new behaviors with habits you already have also increase the likelihood of them sticking and becoming engrained. So for me personally, every time I watch TV, I have made it a habit to stretch. It’s now engrained that before watching TV, I would grab my yoga mat and my foam roller and get that much-needed mobility work while watching TV. So finally, let’s put it all together. Now that you’ve identified the ABCs and are familiar with the 7 tools, its time to make the magic happen. The more tools you use, the more likely you are to make a behavioral change. I do acknowledge, however, that it is nearly impossible to utilize all 7 for every single thing that we wanna change about ourselves. So here’s a quick summary to determine which tools are the most effective for each behavior type. With Automatic behaviors Easy and Engrained are the two most powerful, but Neurohacks and Captivating Rewards can also be helpful. With Burning behaviors, Easy and Engrained are again the two most powerful, followed by Neurohacks and captivating rewards. But Stepladders, Community, and Important are still effective. With Common behaviors, the most important is Community. After that, try to utilize Stepladders, Important, Easy, Captivating rewards, and Engrained. There was a lot in this video so feel free to rewatch this from time to time and use it to reference your own behavior and strategies to change your habits. Thank you to all the Patreon subscribers that helped make videos like these possible. If you would like to support Med School Insiders, then please check out our Patreon page where you can get T-shirts, vote on upcoming videos, listen to my exclusive commentary and more. Thank you all so much for watching. If you liked the video, make sure to press that like button. New videos every week so hit subscribe if you have not already and I will see you guys in that next one.

100 comments on “How to CHANGE your LIFE (Scientific Method to Change Habits)

  1. Just what I needed to see. Gotta replay it at least twice tho. Now I feel like I can fit everything into my schedule and still have time for a beer with friends. Wow the next 8 years are gonna be a helluva ride for me.

  2. Hi Dr. J, can you please talk about your standing desk in your next vlog? I'm curious when you mentioned it since I've never heard of it nor do I know someone who uses. Maybe you could also throw in some benefits if it has any.

  3. I recently came across one of your videos, and now I can't stop watching! You're videos are real, honest, and mostly inspiring. Definitely an eye opener if you're looking to change your life. I love the work you put into your drawings as well. Keep up the good work, thanks ^_^

  4. Fire video as usual my dude! Have you done a video on how to avoid distractions? I've been pretty good at slowly building positive habits and keeping consistency. BUT the moment txts, invitations to go out, snaps, events in my community, and bright sunny days come about – it's REAL tough to stay focused. How do you do it??
    Thanks Dr. Jay!!

  5. I wish I watched this video earlier on my life. Hope its not too late to change. As usual awesome video and great content. 🙂

  6. I'm going to take 2minutes to comment this video before I start applying this "Science-tific" method.
    Your content is what keeps the world spinning (together with some laws of mother Nature, but they ain't as entertaining.)

  7. Finally an useful video!
    Yeah I have read 10 books on how to develop good habits and to understand how it works, I am subscribed to a blog where they show you different ways to study and be effective… and also on yt my whole account is basically flooded with these videos. For what ? To never be able to practice what I learn because I do not have the courage to try it!
    6:06 I see what you did there 😂
    Thank for the effort put into creating these videos!

  8. I click on this video helped me stop procrastinating doing my homework and then I got bored watching it and now I'm leaving like 2 minutes into it to go do homework thanks much help

  9. I'm not even able to drive but I want to be a doctor for pregnant women or be a doctor for kids you making these videos prepare me for a future I want thanks.

  10. I discovered Med School Insiders halfway through my first year of college, and I don't know where I'd be without the quality advice from your channel. As a first generation college student your channel has provided guidance in my studies where I would've otherwise been so lost. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!

  11. I've going through a period of anxiety and questioning who and what I am. This video is literally every problem I summed up and resolved(if I would act upon it). I thank you very much good sir doctor J!

  12. Hey, Med School Insiders, I am new to your channel but I have already seen some videos already and I like the way your videos are. Very helpful and Insightful. I was wandering if you could do a video on how International students can have a good shot at getting into medical schools in the U.S and dealing with the massive expenses. Im a freshman currently majoring in Biology.

  13. Hey Med School Insiders I just recently found this channel and I would like to know if you have any tips/strategies or videos on how to study for the SAT or any standardized tests?

  14. You helped me change my life- I started watching you (and others) about 9 months ago and managed to overhaul and transform my life. Still loads to do but, Thank you!

  15. Great video! I would add at 6:30 that another importance factor is "Faith". Example: Christians strive to follow a certain lifestyle because "God said it is important". Same with Muslims, Buddhists (Budda said it was important) and so on. I am a LDS member and the early members of my church changed their behavior and left areas of persecution so because they understood it was important to live in an area where they could freely practice their faith rather than hiding their faith because others disagree and abuse them for it.
    So, 1. Faith 2. Money 3. Health 4. Social Connections

  16. You can tell most of the words in "SCIENCE" were chosen arbitrarily to fit the stupid acronym. I hate when dumb gimmicks like this are used.

  17. I used these ideas. Now my life is worse than it's ever been. I'm not blaming this video, I'm just pointing out how foolish this logic is.

  18. Whenever I am down and feel like not working, binging junk food and skipping karate, I watch this, done deal! You make my day brother! I only wish you success! Lost 23 pounds in 3 months!!

  19. Dr. Jay, thank you for recommending this book. I'd seen this video when it was first released and heard you talk about Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life-for Good in other videos and around social media, but it was your newsletter alerting me that it was only 99 cents for Kindle that drove me to purchase the book and I couldn't be more glad that I did! It is full of excellent information – I know the scientific approach to goal setting will help me accomplish my goals. Thank you.

  20. 1:45 Was anyone else biting their nails and slouching in their chairs at this exact moment? Looks like I needed this video lol!

  21. Appropriate is one of the worst words in the English language. Change requires only ONE thing – want, true desire. Without that one thing, lasting change doesn’t happen in the real world.

  22. I love this, man. Very inspiring. I was always afraid to accept changes until I realized that it is vital to success.

  23. This is why i always watch Med school insiders vids everytime u upload, I WATCH THEM OVER & OVER TILL MY BRAIN STARTS TO THINK ITS IMPORTANT TO WATCH UR VIDS, coz it is.

  24. Well that was super interesting. I haven't finished the video yet, but the point about Neurohacks may have just explained why I always feel more capable of doing something, when I am in the role of a tutor/helper/more experienced person. Like at karate – it is weird, but I feel like I can take more push ups when I am in charge of the strength/warm up program compaired to when I'm following someone else. Or if I need to get over my introvercy and insecurity and f.eg. ring door bells, I feel stronger in doing this when I am helping someone else to see that it isn't that bad. Very interesting indeed! 😊

  25. I found a retreat center in Florida sad to say I'm just a black girl broke with absolutely no resources at all they accepted me with just my health insurance alone no choice my only hope

  26. This video is interesting. Are you happy to help? I am in a critical stage of life where I am unable to change myself at all on the direction I wanted. May I get your email to inbox you something to share.

  27. Thank you very much.
    The first step specially creating STEPS really saved my day I mean it.
    Good luck.

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