“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle
I came across Aristotle’s insight decades ago and (with mixed results) have since tried to apply it in my life. Frankly, it has not been easy to replace bad habits with good habits, avoid or overcome addictions with moderation or abstinence, and minimize (if not eliminate) self-destructive behavior. What’s the problem?
According to Richard O’Connor, “Too often, our behavior takes on a life of its own and turns into a pit we cannot crawl out of, even if we’re aware of what makes us miserable. Then there are self-destructive patterns that we don’t see but that still hurt us over and over.” Most humans seem to have two brains rather than one and they do not work very well together. They compete for control of our decision-making process. “The bottom line is that there are powerful forces within us that resist change, even when we can clearly see what would be good for us. Bad habits die heard. It seems as if we have two brains, one wanting the best for us, and the other digging in its heels in a desperate, often unconscious, effort to hold on to the status quo. New knowledge about how the brain works is helping us to understand this divided self, giving us guidance and hope that we can do more to overcome our fears and resistance.”
So what we have here is everything that O’Connor has learned thus far about what the brain is, what it does, and what it can do as well as an explanation of how his reader can replace bad habits with good habits, avoid or overcome addictions with moderation or abstinence, and minimize (if not eliminate) self-destructive behavior.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of his coverage:
o Inside the Mind (Pages 11-16)
o How and why expectations create our world (23-27)
o Fear Incognito (47-73)
o Mindfulness (67-69)
o Rebels Without Causes (75-96)
o Rebelling Against Yourself (86-91)
o Self-defeating consequences of acting on feelings of entitlement (97-114)
o Self-esteem and self-ccontrol (127-128)
o Developing willpower (123-131)
o Self-Hate (133-153)
o Chronic Trauma Syndrome (160-165)
o The Vicious Circle of Stress (201-202 & 206-208)
o Addiction (209-220)
o Depression 223-229)
o Anxiety (230-233)
o Overcoming self-destructive habits in yourself (247-255)
Richard O’Connor is spot-on: “Nobody’s perfect; we’re all likely to procrastinate at times, break our diets, ignore unpleasant truths. But we can choose to do this deliberately, to give ourselves a little deserved break before we get back to reality. And we absolutely can develop greater control over our most self-destructive patterns, and in the process become wiser and start to feel like the conscious and thoughtful part of ourselves is in charge of our lives.”
I am deeply grateful to him for the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides in this volume. As a new year rapidly approaches, I will renew my commitment personal growth and professional development. Thanks to him, I and feel much better for the challenges that await in months and years to come.