C-Force: So Much Standing in the Way of Healthy Habits
Which leads us to one major factor over which folks have more direct control -- lifestyle habits. The eight things highlighted in the list are well known. The question is will attaching specific years of potential life extension to the conversation about adopting healthy habits make a significant difference in the results? Can it override a pattern of bad and risky behavior that seems so ingrained in the world we now live in?
"After two years of COVID, the escalation of ordinary citizens' bad behavior is hard to ignore," writes clinical psychologist Francine Toder in a May 2022 story in Psychology Today. One explanation is "the weakened cornerstones of our societal structure. ... In the last decade, laws, which include government agency dictates, may be having less of a restraining effect on American society -- because more people are disregarding them, emboldened when consequences aren't significant."
In February, the Harvard Business Review ran a story on how risky occasionally destructive behavior spreads, co-authored by Jennifer M. Logg, an assistant professor of management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and Catherine H. Tinsley, a professor and chair of the Management Area at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
In examining the problem of excessive risk-taking as seen in a business context, it led them to a phenomenon they called "risk creep," the growing tolerance of risky behavior. "If people engage in risky behavior without serious consequences," they become emboldened to continue, they write.
A five-month longitudinal field study they conducted following lockdown revealed that "people who said they took part in riskier public activities one week gradually engaged in more subsequent discretionary activities the following week."
Being more physically active, quitting smoking, maintaining a good diet, avoiding drinking alcohol, along with the other suggested changes, all take time to cultivate, and a sense of discipline that seems greatly lacking nowadays.
Says a January report in Environmental Nutrition, an independent newsletter written by nutrition experts, "According to Wendy Wood, author of 'Good Habits, Bad Habits,' research shows about 43% of behaviors are driven by habit, which means about 43% of what people do every day is repeated in the same context ... People try to change behavior by getting motivated (how healthy and fit I'll be!) and exerting willpower. But these don't last very long -- they are effortful, require thought, and are not much fun," says Wood.
"Repeated actions are very much dependent on our immediate environments," Woods reminds us. "I buy already-chopped veg so that it's easy to add to meals when I am cooking. It's now my habit." The problem is, there are sure to be additional bad choices no matter what alternate route a person may choose.
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