Yesterday’s post was about the power of community to change culture. A related question I’ve been interested in exploring for a while is – how might we better use the power of community to build better habits?
Three years ago, a couple of friends and I discussed the possibility of building out an app that would help people reflect more and share gratitude. We talked about the possibility of infusing community – but, we were hazy on the specifics.
Even as time passed, the idea lived on. We talked about it in passing. But, for one reason or another, we didn’t get to it.
That changed three months back when we excitedly exchanged notes and realized we’d all appreciate some positivity right now. And, thus, the idea for an experiment in enabling folks to share gratitude was born.
We’ve seen growing adoption of the Apple Watch amongst our group of friends lately. A big part of the reason to adopt has been sharing fitness activity with each other.
So, we see each other’s daily activity summary and get small haptic nudges when someone in the group finishes a workout. It is a lovely way for us to feel connected and motivated.
So much so that it has transformed the new adopter’s experience. A good friend recently joined the group and, inspired by the rest of the group, he’s hit his activity targets every day since getting the watch.
“People like us do things like this.”
It has changed our behavior by changing our culture. The combination of community and culture are among the most powerful levers we have to effect change.
As we head closer to election day in the United States, changes to immigration rules have been coming thick and fast. Naturally, it is a frequent topic of conversation amongst those of us who are impacted.
One friend described it nicely when he sighed and said – “Let’s add this to our growing list of immigration related things to stress about.”
We then made a few jokes made about the fabled green card – a multi-decade process for most Indian immigrants. Those jokes reminded me of a video of Ormie the Pig trying to get hold of a few cookies on top of a fridge.
I’ve spoken to many first time parents since we had our first kid four years ago. First time parents, as is their wont, typically ask for advice. I say the same thing to all of them.
When we were expecting our first child, the one idea that helped us the most was – “expect it to suck.” Go in expecting the first couple of years to be a nightmare. No sleep, no rest, no husband-wife time – the works. Definitely avoid any expectation of the fabled “miraculous” bonding experience.
It inevitably ends up being better than that. :-)
Our day-to-day happiness is a function of reality over expectations. Expecting a better reality means saddling your poor new born kid with the pressure of being a good sleeper, healthy eater, etc.
Just lower your expectations and embrace what life presents.
There’s a learning curve involved with habitually doing things we’re afraid to do.
My reflection from taking such plunges in the past is that their value is often misrepresented. When we hear folks speak about this, we only hear the positives.
We hear folks encouraging us to embrace our fear and step into the unknown. They tell us that it is always worth it to take those uncomfortable steps. Fear is overrated, carpe diem, etc..
Interestingly, such narratives implicitly assume that the reward at the other end always makes the discomfort worth it.
However, that is only true some of the time. Many a time, we learn that we were uncomfortable for good reason. And, sometimes, such failures can be costly.
So, if habitually doing things we’re afraid to do doesn’t always pay off, why should we do it? (or should we?)
My learning is that the reason to take such plunges habitually is because they’re good for our soul. By habitually removing any chance of regret, they change how we see ourselves. We go from passive observers to active changemakers. And, we find ourselves embracing more discomfort and, eventually, more growth.
So, it doesn’t always work out in the short run. But, in the long run, the learning and growth it inspires counts for a lot.