Tag Archives: aging

researching motivation

a beautiful body, a calm mind, health into old age, a job that makes you bounce out of the bed in the morning with excitement – aaah, we all want it. and for many of us, these dreams area attainable.

what often stands in the way is our sluggish attitude towards changing our ways to make those great things come true.

once in a while this really bugs me and i sit there frowning, pondering the mysteries of motivation. today i went on a hunt to see what other equally puzzled people have found. here are five researchers who are working on interesting angles:

jeff stone: how hypocrisy motivates change
in their article, stone and fernandez wrote:

“the dissonance and the need to restore consistency are induced by subsequently making people aware of the fact that they themselves have failed to practice the target behavior in the past. mindfulness for past failures is accomplished by having people examine or generate a list of their reasons for not performing the behavior when they had the opportunity.”

when a person has the realization, the co-authors wrote, they begin to feel discomfort which then leads them to feel motivated to make a change.

one study in particular asked students to help develop an aids prevention and education program. during the process, students talked publically about important safe sex acts and half of them were later asked to write down their own personal behaviors. others were also asked to video tape messages about safe sex.

“it’s really most effective when people publically advocate to people and allow people to discover on their own – or lead them to discover on their own – that they don’t perform the behaviors that they tell others to do,” stone said.

the researchers found that those students who were realized that their words did not necessarily follow their actions were most likely to report that they would change.

this is tied to a person’s perceptions of self-integrity and also to honesty and sincerity. “following a hypocritical act,” the co-authors wrote, “maintaining or restoring these perceptions of self-integrity requires that people act in a more honest and sincere manner than in the past. thus, when they behave like a hypocrite, people become motivated to be honest and sincere about the norms for behavior, which is most directly accomplished by bringing their behavior into line with the proposed course for action.”

what motivates older people?
an excerpt from the online book when i’m 64 by the committee on aging frontiers in social psychology, personality and adult developmental psychology:

older people might have unique motives for change: for example, they might be especially and uniquely family oriented, and thus, wish to be less of a burden to their families, or they might be motivated to maintain an exercise program in order to retain physical functioning. or they might be uniquely motivated by a behavior change that would promote global good. for instance, older adults might be willing to make a contribution to the needs of one generation in hopes that their contribution might flow through to other generations.

stephen intille – cell phone health
dr. stephen intille from MIT is

developing and evaluating software for a common mobile phone that uses context-aware, tailored, just-in-time presentation of information and operant conditioning, a training technique, to encourage brisk walking. the system uses subtle audio cues as positive reinforcement. the prototype is an example of a ubiquitous computing health intervention that presents behavior-specific prompts and encourages incremental behavior change using successive approximation. to evaluate the effectiveness of the system, it is being deployed in a population of finnish mobile phone users. the impact of the technology on physical activity and feelings about fitness and readiness to engage in physical activity will be measured.

fear, romance and motivation
vladas griskevicius (university of minnesota) suggests that the effectiveness of persuasion tactics can be dramatically changed by two primal emotions – fear and romantic desire.

in the forthcoming paper “fear and loving in las vegas: evolution, emotion, and persuasion,” griskevicius and his co-authors find that the emotion we are currently feeling has a strong effect on whether we decide to conform or to go against the grain “being afraid especially leads people to go along with the crowd, activating a ‘safety-in-numbers’ psychology,” says griskevicius. “a feeling of lust, however, motivates people to go it alone, activating a desire to be seen as unique. feeling scared or amorous can greatly change the way people make decisions.”

power motivates
the thought of acquiring power motivates people to act.  in the wake of barack obama’s “yes we can” victory, a study has emerged from stanford about what motivates people to take action. the prime mover, say researchers, is acquiring a position of power.

specifically, it is people’s new, more elevated perception of themselves after assuming a position with more power that inspires them to take more risks and pursue goals more confidently. taking on a formal position of power”be it managerial, political, or cultural”gives people the illusion they have more control over their organization and their world, which, in turn, can propel them to go for the gusto. in the best-case scenarios, this can lead to achieving unimaginable accomplishments. in the worst, it can lead to poor decision making and devastating losses.

buddhist carnival, may 2009 – the mixed-bag-it’s-all-connected edition

may 15 – time for another buddhist carnival. if you want to see previous buddhist carnivals, go here.

today there is no topic, really, just a criss-cross romp through the buddhasphere.

another enlightenment machine
… like the one you see depicted to the right. here are some explanations

i have made an exciting new “thought to textâ„¢” technological breakthrough that has enabled me to record my actual thoughts and non-thoughts. Today I unveil to the world for the first time a transcript of one of my deep meditation sessions.

[CAUTION: this thought to textâ„¢ transcript is uncensored. if you are squeamish about the human condition, please click away now.]

START : thought to textâ„¢ TRANSMISSION:

ok, here i am meditating. i’m so pumped up for this session!!!1! i just know i’m gonna break on through to the other side this time. i got a feeling enlightenment is going to be cool, enlightened dudes get all the hot babes. i know somehow, someway this meditation is going to lead to more money for me. everybody in abundance-land doesn’t care about money because i know they have a hidden stash somewhere. there is probably a secret enlightened ATM cash machine with lots of clouds around it and a rainbow over the top of it. i can’t wait until a wise old voice sends me my PIN number in the mail.

excited?  me, too.  see what monkmojo is up to.

poem
usually we start with a poem; this time i had to get monkmojo out of the way first. but here’s the poem – an excerpt from one of my twitter friend dirk johnson’s poetry notebook

i offer you a cool and gentle breeze
on a sultry day.

i offer you the toxic spill
in a stream by an apartment building.

i offer you refineries burning
off waste gas in a miasma of stench.

i offer you the hiss of wind in grass,
thunder, and heavy rain.

whet your appetite? here it is in all its glory.

kant and buddha
if philosophy is your bag, you’ll enjoy this:

ironically, this treatment of kant is much like the western reception of buddhism, in which it has been branded as nihilistic, romantic, mystical, atheistic, and so on. as with kant, the enormous corpus of buddhist writings makes it easy to cherry-pick those that agree with our temperaments or prejudices (either favorably or unfavorably). i cannot claim a comprehensive knowledge of either, but i can say that my experience of both has taught me to be extremely suspicious of “extreme” interpretations of either.

the rest is here.

fear and the economy
dharmabrother takes the difficulties with the economy with serenity:

i refuse to be afraid of losing my job, even in this economy, because that fear is poisonous and inhibits the practice. good workers get laid off for a variety of reasons, even outright fired because they suddenly do not match the goals of the organization.

don’t know
“don’t know”, says the good blogger at ox herding, “forms the core of buddhism”

one time, zen master seung sahn said:

i don’t teach korean or mahayana or zen. i don’t even teach buddhism. i only teach don’t know. fifty years here and there teaching only don’t know. so only don’t know, okay?

nothing happens
“don’t know” and “nothing happens” are cousins. i was interested to come across this blog, aging as a spiritual practice:

nothing happens when you die: two contemporary buddhist masters ” suzuki roshi and the 16th karmapa ” both said this. when the karmapa was dying ” according to people who were there ” he opened his eyes and said, “nothing happens.”

and in suzuki roshi’s book not always so he says, “don’t worry about dying. nothing is going to happen.”

well. this is the kind of out-there statement that skeptics of buddhism point to as a way of discrediting it.

this brings me back again to the post earlier about kant and buddhism. everything is connected.

listen!

what am i to do in the face of another person’s suffering? how can i best live my vow? the thing i’m called to practice is “deep listening.” to put aside my own concerns about “what to do” and instead give my full attention to what’s in front of me. and to listen within, to notice how my own suffering gets aroused by hearing the other’s story. that is what’s meant by mindfulness: to witness what arises inside and outside of ourselves from moment to moment, in thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

more here. again, i see connections; to the deep “nothing” that is so important in buddhism – and to my post a few days ago about peaceful communication where ian peatey pointed so wisely to listening (and silence) as a good communication tool (which again reminds me of my post on improving on silence – it just goes round and round, doesn’t it?)

pain
and finally, before we close this with a nod to my friend william, here’s a fellow canadian therapist i discovered the other day, who posted on research about zen meditation and pain relief

grant and rainville noticed a marked difference in how their two test groups reacted to pain testing – zen meditators had much lower pain sensitivity (even without meditating) compared to non-meditators. during the meditation-like conditions it appeared meditators further reduced their pain partly through slower breathing: 12 breaths per minute versus an average of 15 breaths for non-meditators.

four noble truths, street version
and here comes william

1. the nature of shit is that it stinks
2. we stink because we have smeared ourselves with shit
3. we can be free of the stink and the shit
4. a dude laid out 8 steps to free ourselves from shit

next buddhist carnival is june 15th. send me your ssss…tuff.