How to Change Behavior Through Learning and Growth

What we do depends on how we feel about what we know.

by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
The key to behavior change is changing what we think, what we know, and how we feel.
by Colter Reed
2:07 read (647 words)
The key to behavior change is changing what we think, what we know, and how we feel.

Hyrum W. Smith taught that behavior has two primary drivers: “What we do depends on how we feel about what we know.”

We are the sum of every action we have taken. Everything we have ever done has brought us to this point.

As you might imagine, who we are is constantly in flux. We take new actions. We revise how we interpret the past. We are continually exposed to new ideas and new emotions.

This can push us around, if we aren’t careful. If we intentionally change what we know and how we feel, we can change however we want to change.

How do we change what we know?

  1. Read books. Books are amazing. We have more information available to us than our grandparents dreamed of. Anything you want to know, you can find a book for it. If you want to read more, try reading while you drive.
  2. Attend classes, seminars, conferences. In-person instruction is an even more powerful forum for learning. You can ask questions. The facilitator can tailor their instruction to the audience. You’re also surrounded by others who are trying to improve themselves, too.
  3. Talk with people. Ask them questions. Get to know them. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn. Iron sharpens iron.
  4. Keep a journal. We are forgetful. Writing down your experiences helps you remember where you’ve been. It also helps you process the past, which changes how you feel about it.

How do we change how we feel?

  1. Dream. Some dreams you achieve, some you don’t; we need both kinds. Create a vision of who you want to be in five years, or how you want to celebrate your eightieth birthday party. Regularly reconnect with that vision. (Your day will be much more focused and productive if you start by reconnecting with your vision of a better self.)
  2. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. People who live with a purpose live longer, are happier, and are four times more engaged at work. This is the change that transformed Ebeneezer Scrooge’s life. The spirits changed how Scrooge felt about his life and he turned on a dime. He found a purpose.
  3. Find a new normal. If the people surrounding you aren’t lifting you up, it’s time to leave the crab bucket behind. Get a new reference group. Surrounding yourself with the right people will naturally change how you feel about how things are.

You may be sick and tired of the way things are, but you’re not going to change until you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. That’s a strong negative feeling that how things are today does not meet your needs. Why not? Because you know that a better tomorrow is possible.

Who you are today is the sum of your past. This is also where your future starts. If you do nothing, you’ll drift along. You’ll spend more time working on other people’s goals than your own.

Or you can choose to make today the day that everything changed. Figure out what you want to do. Learn the skills you need and develop the conviction that it’s possible. You can do it. You just need to get your heart and mind on the same page.

Question: Is it easier for you to change how you feel or what you know? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.