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Better Behavior Starts with Better Thinking by Roger Hall

Roger Hall is psychologist, and the author of Staying Happy, Being Productive. He doesn’t do the whole “left brain/right brain” thing because, he says, while it’s a great metaphor, it’s based on biology that’s 50 years old. Instead, he gives us deeper structural insights about our brain, to maybe help us understand what’s going on up there.

Roger’s entire philosophy is that if you want better behavior, you first need better thinking, and says the key to being successful in life is by monitoring and regulating our thinking. A process that he works people through every single day. But the roadblock standing in the way, he says, is that we’ve many environments where regulating our thinking is very difficult.

He assures that he’s not anti-technology, but contends that the advent and embrace of technology has eliminated protections against us overworking and overthinking ourselves. Since people can get in touch with us at a moments notice, the amount of information we’re juggling at all times, theoretically, has no end. This makes quality decision making more difficult than it’s ever been.

He uses the example of a doctor with a pager. It used to be that the only person who could be contacted at a moments notice for emergencies were doctors. When that pager went off, it meant serious things were happening and you’d better drop everything. Now, the world collectively has multiple pagers beeping constantly. As a result, the benchmarks we have for what constitutes as an emergency are completely skewed. So everything feels urgent all the time.

The implications go on and on, but Hall’s main takeaway is that the lack of space between us and the overwhelming, ever-beeping notifications of the world make us less effective at good decision making. If we focused on making two big decisions a day, those would be made with the proper amount of thought given. With 20 a day, at a certain point we’re phoning it in.

Here’s a video of Hall explaining more about how he helps people make positive changes: