Smart Change: Want to Change a Habit? Change the Environment

Smart Change:  Want to Change a Habit? Change the Environment

Here is an excerpt from on changing behavior and erasing bad habits and then a book review on Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others by Art Markman PhD.

Mike Roizen is the wellness director at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most renowned hospitals in the United States. In 2005, Roizen initiated a round of wellness programs at the hospital. He was concerned about the health of the employees, as well as raising healthcare costs. Seven years later, employees had collectively lost three hundred thousand pounds; smoking rates plummeted to less than 7 percent—less than half the national average. Remarkably, the Cleveland Clinic went four years without having to increase healthcare costs for employees. What did Roizen do?

The wellness programs were extensive. In 2008, the Cleveland Clinic began offering free yoga classes. Two years later they removed sugary drinks from the cafeterias and vending machines. They sponsored farmers’ markets and created a mentor program so employees could learn about how to eat and exercise. The biggest change came in 2005: the Clinic banned smoking and started offering smoking-cessation classes.

I read about this turnaround in Art Markman’s Smart Change”. There are a litany of books on changing behavior and erasing bad habits. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret sold over 20 million copies on the premise of the power of positive thinking—your experience in life is the result of your thoughts. But the best books on habits and behavior change take a different approach. While it’s tempting to look inward and scrutinize your own psychology, Markman suggests that behavior change is also about changing the environment (which is why Roizen banned smoking at the Cleveland Clinic instead of only offering smoking-cessation classes). As Markman writes, “You want to set up your worlds so the things you don’t want to do are hard and the things you want to do are easy.”

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Smart Change – Description

Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others by Art Markman PhD.

An insightful guide that shows how habits of behavior are formed, and how we can transform bad habits into positive behaviors in ourselves and others.

Smart Change” explores the psychological mechanisms that form and maintain habits in individuals and groups and offers real, accessible and actionable advice for changing habits. In an engaging narrative, Markman covers a wide range of habits, from individual behaviors like eating better and exercising regularly to work-related behaviors such as learning effectively and influencing customers’ purchases. He proposes that there are five effective tools to help individuals change behavior and to help people influence the habits of the people around them:

  1. Tame the “Go” system: Identify the triggers of habits, replace old behaviors with new ones and generate specific plans to deal with obstacles.
  2. Harness the “Stop” system: Learn to deal with stress and other factors that hinder the development of new and positive habits.
  3. Optimize your goals. Determine the course of behavior change and how to successfully incorporate those changes for the long term.
  4. Manage your environment: Change your surroundings to dramatically reduce poor behavior and habits.
  5. Engage your Neighbors: To affect other people’s behavior, understand the shared culture that creates a mutual dependency, and allows neighbors and colleagues to have a profound positive influence on the behavior of other members of their community.

Smart Change – Review

“Technology promises to make our lives easier and more efficient, but too often it has just the opposite effect – we feel rushed, harried, “always on,” and we take refuge in bad habits like procrastination. If this sounds like you, you need to try Smart Change. It’s based on the science of motivation and designed to tap into our habit-forming circuits and use them to create a more satisfying life.”

—Daniel H. Pink, To Sell is Human and Drive

“Full of tools to help you change your behavior.  You’ll reorganize your life, and be on your way to a healthier you, and not just for the next week.  This book will have lasting impact.”

—Dr. Mike Roizen, RealAge: Are you as Young as You Can Be?

“If you are serious about changing habits, read this. It is written in an insightful yet accessible style. FOUR STARS”—HR Magazine

“Markman has a knack for writing clearly and sensibly about our thought processes and habits. He realized, however, that making change is difficult for nearly everyone, mainly because there are so many temptations. So he sets out to show us how our brain works and tries to unlock the mysteries of motivation.”

—Austin American-Statesman

“Markman is…a respected pop culture expert…That has a lot to do with book’s snappy pace and appeal…Smart Change” is not a personal story or memoir.  Readers will enjoy the level of specificity to change old habits.

—San Antonio Express News

“Art Markman’s smart, engaging, quirky book will teach you how to do more of the things that make you healthy, wealthy, and happy, and less of the things that don’t.  Smart Change is an important book that’s also a delight to read.”

—Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink

“Change is hard; but it doesn’t have to be. In this insightful book, Art Markman gets to the root causes of our habits and explains what it takes to reshape them and make lasting, positive changes in our lives.”

—David Burkus, The Myths of Creativity

“Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, but if you have tried and failed, you may need to change your approach. The author believes the key is to change your behavioral patterns–only then will you be able to break the negative cycle for good.” —The Sun

Praise for Art Markman’s Smart Thinking

Markman provides a helpful guide for developing smarter habits, and ultimately, a smarter, more fulfilling life of learning.

— Charles Ealy, Austin American

…the book is an easy read, though rewards re-reading. Unlike many of these “Think yourself smarter” books, this one has lots of good advice, and feels like it relies on primary sources more than secondary. In fact, I bet I end up reading a lot of what is in this book, taken out of context by “Think yourself successful” gurus. Save time, read it here, at the source.

— Tom Otley, The Business Traveler

“Smart Thinking teaches people how their minds work so they can be more effective performers at work and at life. An essential read for anyone who wants to operate at their best, think outside the box, and accomplish whatever goals they set out to achieve.”

— Sian Beilock, PhD, author of Choke

“If you want to be more creative, if you want to be an innovator, Smart Change is the book for you. Creativity doesn’t fall out of the sky. It favors the prepared mind. This book prepares your mind.”

— Hara Estroff Marano, author of A Nation of Wimps

“What does thinking quickly create a positive mood?  Are goals contagious?  How do you create a culture of smart thinking?  Building on decades of research in cognitive psychology and replete with stories and practical tools, Markman answers these questions and in doing so teaches you how to learn.  Once finished, you’ll feel smarter.  Consider it an owner’s manual to the mind.”

— Jennifer Lynn Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing, Stanford GSB and author of The Dragonfly Effect

Smart Change not only enriches the literature on human thought–and its foibles–it takes it to the next level, offering clear prescriptions for how to sharpen memory, analysis and creativity in our daily lives.”

— Wray Herbert, author of On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits

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