Why we can’t help comparing ourselves to others

It’s a very natural human tendency to compare ourselves to the people around us–and even to the people we see portrayed in the media. And like so many other behavioral tendencies, this one is a double-edged sword.  Looking at what others have achieved can inspire us to greater effort. It can also make us feel like crap. And we don’t want that!

Today, we’re delving into the psychology behind why we are driven to compare ourselves to others, the impact it can have on our mental well-being, and some strategies to help you avoid the compare-and-despair cycle.

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Why behavioral economics shouldn’t be the only tool in the toolbox

Behavioral economics has given us a lot of insights into how we can influence our own and other’s behavior. But the approach has some serious limitations, especially when applied to promoting health behaviors.

Joining me on the podcast is Michelle Segar, a frequent guest here on the Change Academy. Michelle is an NIH-funded researcher at the University of Michigan. She’s also a best-selling author and health coach whose work focuses on fostering behavior change that can survive the complexity and unpredictability of the real world. 

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Looking for happiness in all the wrong places, with Oliver Burkeman

What if the pursuit of happiness is NOT the path to greater life satisfaction? What if being more productive and getting more done isn’t actually the way to get ahead?

In today’s episode, I’m talking to author Oliver Burkeman about some of the ways in which we might want to re-examine our relationship to goals, happiness, and the things that are most important to us.

This is sometimes a bit painful. because so much of it has to do with confronting some of the hard limits that we like to pretend don’t exist. But, as you’ll hear, there is ultimately a profound relief and freedom to be found in facing finitude.

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How to get back on track instead of sabotaging your progress

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of people on various aspects of behavior change–mostly having to do with health behaviors.  I have witnessed and celebrated some amazing breakthroughs and successes.  

But I have also seen people stumble and struggle. Regularly. Something happens and they fall back into old habits or patterns that they’d successfully moved away from. 

It’s disappointing but it’s not a tragedy.  Because this is just part of the change process. What I do find tragic–and unnecessary–is when these lapses cause people to people give up entirely.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to survive these inevitable episodes and get yourself back in the game more quickly.

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How to stop complaining and find the path to positive change

Is there something in your life that’s been driving you crazy for a while? Some situation at work that you find yourself venting to your spouse about every night at dinner? Or maybe a recurring conflict with your partner or your kids that never seems to be adequately resolved? Do you find yourself ruminating over a problematic situation every time you have a moment alone in the car? 

In this episode, Dr. Bethy Campbell and I are sharing a 4-step process that can help you exit that complaint loop and actually move toward positive change. Bethy is a clinical psychologist, a marriage and family therapist .

The technique that we’re talking about today is taken from her book on Helping Skills, a book that would be a great resource if you are in a situation where you’re frequently called upon to provide guidance and emotional support.

But this absolutely an approach that can (and should) apply to your own knotty situations.

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The inner work that makes outward change more possible

In this conversation with a recent “graduate” of the Weighless program, Lauren shares some of the key insights that helped her permanently transform her physical and mental health.

Lauren is a healthcare professional herself, with a front row seat to some of the consequences of unhealthy habits and lifestyles. She had plenty of motivation to change. And yet, she still needed some support to turn that knowledge into consistent behavior change.

As you’ll hear, Lauren was a little surprised at how much of the work of behavior and lifestyle change is actually about some key mental shifts–including one that really struck me as critical.

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Why it’s so hard to convert good intentions into action

There’s clearly no shortage of good intentions in the world, and most of them actually have to do with health. People want to get into shape, they want to eat better, they want to lose weight. Unfortunately, very few of these good intentions get converted into reality.

Believe it or not, there’s a technical term for this: It’s called the intention behavior gap. And in this episode, I want to share with you some research-based strategies for bridging the gap between good intentions and healthy habits.

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How to know when it’s time to make a big change

Careers are one of the ways that we find meaning and purpose in our lives. Not the only way, of course. But what if you wake up one day and realize that your true purpose might be better fulfilled by doing something other than what you originally trained for.  Now what?!

Design thinking offers tools and processes that can help us both imagine and then execute big shifts in our lives. 

Lisa Waltuch and her business partner, Jen Sullivan, are co-founders of Encore Retreats, where they host transformational getaways and events. Lisa also has her own practice as a Life Coach through Thrive Coaching, where she uses design thinking to help her clients imagine and then inhabit really big changes. I thought she’d be the perfect person to talk about this with.

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What if you didn’t have to be more disciplined to succeed?

I was recently exchanging emails with someone who was struggling to change some unhelpful behaviors.

He wrote:  “I do really well for a couple of days and then I go totally off the rails again. It’s such a vicious cycle. I just need to be be more disciplined.”

And if there is something that you are struggling to change, you’ve probably thought the same thing. But I don’t think summoning up more discipline is necessarily the answer.

In this episode, I’m talking with someone who found a better way to create positive change and momentum–which led to dramatic improvements in her health.

As you listen, think about how the specifics of her translate into whatever you’re working on and the kind of effort you are applying to that work. 

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Behind the scenes of our recent reboot

I’ve decided that my special word for 2024 is Reboot. 

Much of my last year was consumed by the reboot of the Weighless program–a coaching program that I launched with Brock Armstrong 7 years ago, and which has now been now relaunched in a new format that I think is its best version yet. 

The Change Academy is not about weight management, per se. My goal in this podcast is to give you tools that you can apply to create positive change in any aspect of your life. But in this episode, I want to talk more specifically about the Weighless Program and take you behind the scenes of our recent reboot. 

If that is not of interest, you might want to check out our introductory series The 8 Things You Need to Create Change, or the more intensive series called the 50,000 Mile Tune up.  There are free listening guides available for both of them and either one of them would be a great way to charge up your batteries for your own reboot, or whatever else 2024 has in store for you.

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