"Ain't no drag." - James Brown, Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (Part 1)
On the plane yesterday, the flight attendant offered me some two packs of peanuts. I wasn't hungry and I knew I wasn't going to eat them but I took them anyway. Her outstretched hand elicited a pavlovian response from me. I sent my left hand out to receive what was offered without even thinking. The nuts sit in my backpack right now...uneaten.
This afternoon, I walked past a person I normally see as I come into the office in the AM. "Hello," she said. "Good morning," I responded. It was 4pm.
In both instances I was reminded of Nudge's discussions of human behavior. How inertia and the automatic functions of our brain lead us certain places. Often to places our thinking, more reasoning brain matter wouldn't want us to be...if the situation was altered just slightly so that we'd have to think about it in the right way.
I went in to Nudge expecting eye-opening tips and guidance at a micro level: what could I do as an individual to improve my decision-making around Health, Wellness, and Happiness, as their tag line proclaims. Instead, what I mostly got was a macro-view that seems to be talking to policy makers about how they can improve the way they do business with "humans" making complex decisions.
Great, I guess? Sure, I'm going to take a look at my 401(k) and make sure I've made the right choice for me and, sure, I enjoyed the discussions about human behavior and why we are likely to make bad choices about things that are very important but, ultimately, it wasn't what I was looking for.
Give me something practical about how to nudge me towards better food decisions (the opening anecdote about cafeteria planning didn't really cut it) and, really, there isn't much about actual health and happiness in the book. There's a lot of great stuff about financial planning but...
But, where was the meat? If you're going to lay out such a compelling explanation of human behavior, inertia and our lizard brains and all that, give me something that's actionable as an individual. Some tools and tips to recognize and adapt my nature.
Because now I'm stuck with nuts I don't want and the receptionist thinks I don't know how to tell time.
Soundtrack to this post
- Papa Got a Brand New Bag (part 1) - James Brown
- I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown
- Ain't That A Groove - James Brown
- It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World - James Brown
- Money Won't Change You - James Brown
- Don't Be A Dropout - James Brown