(00:00): You're listening to the live happier longer podcast, episode 76
(00:15): Welcome to the live happier longer podcast. This podcast is equal parts, information, inspiration, education and motivation, all dedicated to increase longevity and improving overall quality of life. I'm your host, Molly Watts and I'm here to help you build the habits of a happier, longer life. Let's get started.
(00:37): Well hello and welcome. Welcome back if you have been a long time listener. Thank you so much. You're listening to the live happier, longer podcast. I'm your host Molly Watts, coming to you from a fairly gray and a little bit damp Oregon right now, but I've looked ahead into the future and I see sunshine next week and middle to high seventies which is, you know, kind of a sweet spot. So Memorial day weekend may not be perfect, but I am definitely feeling like we are seeing a bit of the glimpse of summer coming. So it's always happy. This podcast, you hopefully know if you've never tuned in before you're going to hear it is all about building the habits of a happier, longer life and habit building and habit breaking or things that we talk about quite a bit or I've talked about quite a bit over the last year especially.
(01:34): And one of the things that has been a reason that that has been the case is because I've become a student of self coaching. And so this episode, this episode I'm calling it PB and J and for me and many other people, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich brings back a lot of fond memories. It's something that we love and it's just a simple, delicious comfort food that actually is not that bad for you, right? So especially if you like me, prefer to prefer it on a nice grainy, seedy bread. So, okay, I'm making myself hungry anyways. What does a PB and J have to do with building the habits of a happier, longer life with optimism of mindset? Well, I'm happy you asked. In this case, it doesn't actually stand for that tasty little sandwich. It is instead an acronym for something that I want you to remember and use for helping you with those pesky little things called urges.
(02:37): So what's an urge you might ask? Well, an urge is according to the dictionary, a strong desire or impulse. And as I mentioned, we talk a lot about habits here and the importance of building habits that serve you as well as getting rid of habits that don't serve you. In habit speak the habit loop as defined by clear. It says there is a cue that is tied to a craving. And from there that leads to a response and then a reward. So a craving is just another word for an urge, right? The habit loop exists for both positive and negative habits. And I think it's especially important to understand it's all part of the brain's most important function. And that is efficiency. Literally, the brain wants to be efficient above everything else. And habits are how it can be most efficient. So even if it is a habit that's not really helping you, right?
(03:39): So cravings or an urge, we often believe that they are happening as a result of something external to us. Like right now, people tell us, tell me that Corona virus is causing them stress and that it's causing them to want to eat because they're stressed out, right? They blame the Corona virus or stress on their urge to eat anyways. The perceived the cue that James Clear talks about is what we, is that what we perceive the circumstance or the food or the time of day. And you know, if you've listened to this podcast at all, you know that really none of that's true. What triggers, urges and cravings are our thoughts. So it's not the Corona virus, right? That's causing something in you. It is everything that you are thinking about the Corona virus. And this is really wonderful news because if you can slow your brain down enough, you can redirect habits that don't serve you by changing your thoughts and responding to the urge in a different way.
(04:48): So you're still wondering what PB and J has to do with it. Well, it would be really fun if I told you that I had a habit of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at night that I was trying to break. Right? But that's not really where the idea came from. So sorry could have been cute, but no, it's, you know, because I've been studying so much over this last year and especially over the last two months on how to think on purpose, how to avoid buffering with negative emotions and how to build habits and overcome habits that don't serve me. You know, I've shared before on the podcast that I've struggled with emotional overeating and some other unhealthy buffering habits. And this whole self coaching journey has been such a big part of building my happier, longer life habits that I want to help all of you understand what a powerful tool your brain is.
(05:38): Aging with optimism requires thinking on purpose and it requires positive habits. And maybe even more importantly, it requires resilience and managing your thoughts when circumstances are tough. So right now there's a lot of people going through some tough times and I want to help you. I want to help you not backslide on your positive habits and not allow negative habits to become even more entrenched. So I've created PB and J. Okay. I know it didn't create PB and J it's been here, but my PB and J, I use something like PB and J because it's an acronym that's easy to remember. You know that you've, you know PB and J, we all know it, but in this case, PB and J stands for something else. P stands for pause and ponder. B stands for breathe on purpose and J is for just 10 minutes. So whenever you have the urge to do something that involves a habit that doesn't serve you like drinking or shopping or couch surfing or biting your nails or picking a fight with your partner, wasting time on social media, you name it. If you have the urge to eat something in response to stress or any other negative emotion like I do, I want you to remember the PB and J.
(07:02): P I'm going to pause and ponder. I'm going to pause my brain and see which part of it is really talking to me right now when I'm having an urge. Is it the primitive brain also known as the habit brain it which is the part that only concerns itself with seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and being as efficient as possible. If it is, I have to slow myself down and tap into my prefrontal cortex, my executive function, human specific brain unique to humans and I have to ponder if eating potato chips. The urge that I'm having is actually going to solve is according to one solve whatever negative emotion I'm feeling. Answer here is no because potato chips solve only one problem and that would be hunger even though they aren't even a great choice for solving that problem. And number two is eating potato chips apart of my longterm goal of being a healthy eater.
(08:04): Who feels her body with quality food? Again, answer here is no, not really. The pause is not intended for me to get all mad at myself for having the urge. In fact, I might even think the thought, Oh, there goes my highly efficient habit brain. Again, just trying to do its job that I've taught it through years of emotional eating. Luckily I now know better that chips aren't the solution here and nor are they the problem. The problem is whatever thought I'm thinking and I'm going to take time right now to pause and ponder about what just what that thought might be.
(08:46): And here's the thing, sometimes there is no big negative emotion. So just in case you're thinking, Oh, this only applies when there's a pandemic and I'm having a lots of stressful emotions, no and big negative thoughts. Sometimes there's just a little time cue or location cue that triggers an urge and it happens because we've conditioned ourselves into thinking permission, giving thoughts. Like for an example, you're watching TV at night and a thought could be as simple as I want some chips or I deserve a treat and the urge hits us. It doesn't have to be a big scary negative emotion or anything. We just have to uncover the thought that is there and pause with it. We have to see that the thought might just be that simple permission giving thought of, I want some, right?
(09:44): Here's the thing about an urge, which is really, we talked about it before in terms of a definition, just a strong desire, right? It's a feeling that we can feel in our bodies. When you have an urge, it's like an itch you want to scratch. We get a little restless, our chest tighten, our breathing might get shallow, our muscles tense up, and we want relief from it. And in the habit cycle, when we act on that urge or craving with a response, we get a reward. Literally, our brain has a dopamine release, which is part of why the brain wants to continue doing the habit in the first place because dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for us feeling happiness. And dopamine is released during pleasurable situations, and it influences motivates people to seek out pleasurable activity, right? So it's one of the reasons that many habit experts say that you can't get rid of a negative habit, negative habit altogether.
(10:46): You have to replace it with a different response to the urge, but also something that creates a reward. Right? For me, I think the most important piece of allowing that urge and changing those negative habits is the understanding that I've created the habit that there's nothing going wrong. When I experienced an urge, okay, I've created that and just because the urge is there, I don't have to respond to it. Just as I have in the past. The PB and J tool here helps me do it and I hope that it will help you too. Okay, so we have P pause and ponder. B is breathe on purpose. So we've got this urge and we're looking at it. We're pondering thoughts that have led us to feeling it and now I want you to not fight the urge, not white knuckle through it, not resist it, not call upon all your willpower. I want you to instead breathe on purpose. There are some wonderful books and resources on breathing, which I will link in my show notes, but suffice it to say that deep breathing is a powerful tool for releasing stress and anxiety. It's also wonderful for relieving tension in the body, brought on by an urge and it's simple to do. You're going to simply breathe in for three seconds and exhale for three seconds.
(12:15): You're going to repeat that three times and just notice how much it can help you calm down. If three times doesn't feel like enough, do it again. I find breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth is most successful for me. Hopefully you'll notice that your body is more relaxed. The tension is relieved a little. Now, I'm not going to say that that's immediately going to get over your or your urge, especially if you've done this. You know, if you've created this habit and you've had this similar urge many, many times over many, many years, all right, this is work that you're going to be doing, but this is going to lead us to the J of RPB and J strategy and J stands for just 10 minutes. I want you to commit to not eating the chips if you're me or whatever.
(13:09): Negative habit of choice. Your negative habit is of choice for just 10 minutes and even tell yourself if it helps, if, if I still want the chips in 10 minutes, I can have them. Because here's the thing. When you allow an urge to be there, when you pause and ponder and think about it with your higher human brain, when you breathe on purpose and release the tension that builds up with an urge and that commit to just 10 minutes, 99% of the time, the urge will go away. When you feel it initially, it feels so strong and it feels like it's going, it's going to be, you know, like it's awful. Like it's the worst thing that that urge feeling like it's going to last forever. But those are just thoughts that you're having about it. Tell yourself it's okay. This is just an urge.
(13:57): This is my brain doing what it's supposed to do. This is my brain being taught, my brain being efficient. I don't have to feed it and if I really still want it, I can have it in just 10 minutes, just 10 minutes. It's the jelly in our peanut butter sandwich because all of us can wait for 10 minutes to decide if we still really want to fuel our negative habit. Okay. I will link to a couple of deep breathing resources in my show notes and if you would like a great PB and J graphic to help you overcome an urge and break a NIC negative habit, just send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org that's email@example.com and I will send one to you and if you have anything else that you'd like answered on the podcast or any other subjects that you'd like me to discuss, please send me a note about that as well. That's it. Just a short episode this week folks and I will be back next week with a great guest and I hope you have a very safe, happy and relaxing Memorial day and if you're somewhere where you can get out, you know, get outside,
(15:09): I hope you'll do that to be well. Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. If this podcast is helping you and you'd like to go a little deeper, maybe track your progress on your habit building, you should check out our five for life planner. The planner is 13 weeks undated, and you can start literally at any time to create the habits of a happier, longer life. It'll keep you motivated and it will keep you accountable. Hand, Hey, it's affordable. So go to shop dot five for life.co that's shop.buy for life.co and enter promo code podcast for a special discount.
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Here are some resources on breathing: