Saturday, November 08, 2008

Curious about Behavior: Can We Change Our Behavior? What Does Our Behavior Say About Us?

Definition of Behavior: Manner of behaving, whether good or bad; mode of conducting one's self; conduct; deportment; carriage.

Behavior is what a man does, not what he thinks, feels, or believes.” - Emily Dickinson, American poet

Originally, this blog was to be titled: “Curious about Behavior: Using the Knowledge of Behavioral Styles to Advantage.” It was to be all about the four styles of behavior that have been stated and studied for centuries. They show up with different names, but still bear the same descriptions and properties.

I found, however, when I started to peruse the experts’ quotations that the directions described covered much more and differently the word “behavior.” These quotations were so interesting that I did – as you can see – change my title and decide to share what I found with you.

What about the styles article? I will have it finished by the end of this weekend (November 9, 2008) and you will find it at .

My first question is, “Can we change our behaviors?” The good news is that we can. Usually, this means that we need to work on certain habits – either getting rid of them or adopting them. It is said by the gurus that you can change a habit in 21 days. But I have found that to make a habit change, it usually takes between 60 and 90 days.

Being a fitness instructor, I find that many of my students succeed with new diets and regularly attending classes. However, if they don’t establish the habits of eating properly and exercising, they return to the original habits and behaviors, and before you know it are back to their original weight and lack of fitness. It is almost heart breaking.

And, of course, this can happen across the board with our goals and intentions. Have you ever started on a habit-behavior-changing-program (often the same one you’ve started many times before) and either dropped it or kept it up? I know that I have. I would love to hear how you did it.

Let’s investigate some of the quotations I found during my extensive search:
  • Human behavior is incredibly pliable, plastic.” - Philip Zimbardo, American psychologist
  • Anything that changes your values changes your behavior.” - George A. Sheehan, American writer
  • People don't change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” - Sharon Stone, American actress
  • It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction.” - Warren Buffett, American businessman
  • Our learning ought to be our lives' amendment, and the fruits of our private study ought to appear in our public behavior.” - Thomas Nashe, English writer
  • Public behavior is merely private character writ large.” - Stephen Covey, American businessman

And some more with a different focus:

  • Desperate? That can be a justification for all kinds of behavior.” - Jessica Walter, American actress
  • Human beings, viewed as behaving systems, are quite simple. The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves.” - Herbert Simon, American scientist
  • The contradictions are what make human behavior so maddening and yet so fascinating, all at the same time.” - Joan D. Vinge, American author
  • Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” – Plato, Greek philosopher
  • Behaviors are a choice. Feelings are sometimes out of our control. Behavior has to do with choices.” - Randall Terry, American celebrity
  • Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behavior.” - Logan P. Smith, American writer

Three more to keep you thinking. I know they will do the same for me:

  • Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.” - Marshall McLuhan, Canadian sociologist
  • When you're the victim of the behavior, it's black and white; when you're the perpetrator, there are a million shades of gray.” - Laura Schlessinger, American writer
  • The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.” - M. Scott Peck, American psychologist

So, how do you feel about behavior – yours and others’ ? I have written out some habit adjustments to work upon. I feel that pursuing them daily is the way to succeed. I’ll let you know how it goes.