Bridget Freeman - The Domino Effect

Bridget Freeman - The Domino Effect

Posted by Bridget Freeman on Aug 08, 2016 in #Ambassador Blogs.

Today I made my bed. 

Not being a naturally tidy person and always being very busy, I tend to let some housework tasks slide. However, I recently read a very interesting article on how, if you want to change the world, you should start by making your bed! This taps into a behavior pattern which is often referred to as the Domino Effect, which states that when you make a change to one behaviour it can activate a chain reaction that effects related behaviours as well. Remember the awesome feeling of satisfaction you had when you used to line up a heap of dominoes in a row then knocked over the first one? We can get that same feeling every day and change our whole selves in the process! The Head of the Navy Seals had this to say:

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you can’t do the big things right.”

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you can’t do the big things right.”

So yes, I made my bed and that felt great! Then with the momentum that brought, I picked up the clothes that were in a pile by my bed and put them all away. How much tidier the room looked then! It gave me a boost! I noticed that I had a random pile of reference material on top of my bedside table. Hhhhhmmm, that looked pretty untidy next to my now-lovely bed so I sorted that pile out into ‘things I definitely must read’ or ‘put in the recycling’. Ta dah! By now I had run out of time before having to get to work, but the momentum carried through my whole morning ! And upon returning home, I had a much nicer and more relaxing space to come home to, improving my mind set for the whole evening.

Making the bed took me about two minutes, tops. But the positivity it invoked brought a much greater payoff. Stanford Professor BJ Fogg states ‘You can never change just one behaviour. Our behaviours are interconnected, so when you change one behaviour, other behaviours also shift.” (Actually he says ‘behaviors’ but I added the ‘u’! My English teacher would be proud!)
I have noticed many times previously that if I start my day with some form of exercise (ANY form of exercise) my diet is better throughout the whole day and my additional activity factor is greater. I feel much more like going for a walk at lunchtime, choosing the healthier foods, doing something active with my daughter after school or walking to a colleague’s office rather than phoning or emailing them. I believe that, as well as following the law that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, we are also ingraining in our personalities that we are ACTIVE people, not sedentary people. It can actually be the first step in a whole self-image thing!

Of course, the Domino Effect can also work in reverse. As an example, have you found that if you think to yourself ‘I will just quickly check my emails on my phone’, from checking your emails you then start checking your Facebook, your Instagram etc etc and before you know it an hour or so has gone by where you have just sat around on the couch and you haven’t actually achieved anything truly productive or worthwhile?

One of the keys to using this principle is to start with something small, that won’t take a huge effort or amount of time to accomplish. If we look at it from an exercise point of view, it might be as short and sweet as starting the day with a walk or a few minutes of sun salutations. Once you have done something like this, your blood will be flowing, your heart pumping with life, your lungs working and your brain switched on. Even if you do nothing else differently from here for the first few days, your days have started off positively, far more than those extra few minutes of pressing the snooze button would have given you! And you can build on that as time goes on. Who knows how far you will take it? YOU are in charge of that!

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