Learning = Behavior Change, Clarification

By Leo Gura - August 21, 2017

There is a subtle point which I failed to make explicit in this week’s video.

“Learning = Behavior Change” doesn’t just mean forcing a behavior change. No! Thinking of it like that makes it seem too much like a brute force technique. Intellect must still be involved. In fact, it must play the leading role. The real essence of the the phrase is: grasp the intellectual lesson so deeply that it results in an internal SHIFT, which then naturally leads to a behavior change. See the subtle difference?

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re overweight and you constantly eat junk food. Eventually you tire of it, so you want to stop. First you try some behavioral changes like forcing yourself to go the gym, watching your eating habits like a hawk, shopping for better groceries, reading some health books, etc. That’s a good start, but it’s not learning. All of those behavior changes and book lessons are only skin-deep. Which is of course why you fail. After a few months of hard work you will get sloppy and backslide to your old ways. Why? Because you didn’t actually learn a god damn thing! To learn the lesson of health means that you have an insight so deep that it makes you stop wanting junk food, whiling starting to want health and exercise. Notice how different that is from merely forcing a behavior change, or reading some health books, or even telling yourself, “I must stop eating junk food.” Think about what kind of lesson you’d have to learn to finally make healthy eating natural? Maybe you almost have a heart attack, and that near-death experience jolts you awake and now you FINALLY learn something: “OHHHH!!! Of course!!! Health!!!”

That’s when you’ve learned.

Try to recall some times in your past when you really learned something. Not just a piece of information, but you grasped something so deep that it actually shifted a part of who you were. Like a small piece of you died that day. And from that a permanent change in behavior happened, and it was rather effortless. You didn’t have to moralize to yourself, you didn’t have to fight with yourself. You just finally learned the lesson.

Notice how rare such instances are. The point of this technique is to increase their likelihood.

This is why it’s good to ask yourself both these questions: “What did I learn?” and “How will my behavior change?”. Ask them separately, with a little gap in between to contemplate. It will be easier to make the insight click if you approach it from both ends like this. First, wonder about the intellectual component, then wonder about the behavioral component. As you do that, the two will tend to merge into one singular LESSON.

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