Did you know there’s an equation for human behavior? What’s more, you can apply this equation to your everyday life to instill bone-smart habits.
Good habits help you achieve optimal bone health as you implement changes to your diet and lifestyle. I know it sounds simple… but that does not necessarily mean it’s easy for everyone.
As you’ll learn in today’s post, there’s solid science behind how the brain works and the reason why forming new habits can sometimes be difficult. And this information, captured in a simple equation, can pave the way for you to ultimately succeed at replacing bad habits with good ones.
The power to make positive change resides in each of us, so let’s get started!
What Is Lewin’s Equation?
Kurt Lewin was a German-American psychologist who was born in 1890. During the 1920s and 30s, Lewin contributed much to his chosen field, earning him the unofficial title of the “founder of social psychology.”
In 1936, Lewin formulated the following equational statement: “Behavior is a function of the Person in their Environment.”
Written as an equation, it looks like this: B = f(P,E).
In Lewin’s time, printed words that represented important concepts in a sentence or paragraph were often capitalized. “Person” and “environment” are emphasized in Lewin’s equation, shedding light on its meaning, which was actually quite revolutionary in its time. Prior to this, a person’s actions were attributed entirely to their temperament and personality, not their environment.
Lewin’s statement takes a rather complex subject – how a person’s behavior is influenced by their environment and vice versa – and simplifies it into a single, insightful statement that holds the keys to building good habits and stopping bad ones. It’s something of a formula for positive life changes and personal progress, but it also shows why bad habits can be difficult to break.
Breaking The Habit Of Personal Blame
One of the intriguing aspects of Lewin’s equation is that to in order to apply it, you have to accept it. For example, you first have to get past the old idea that failures and struggles are solely the product of a flawed personality. How many times have you blamed yourself for not reaching a bone health goal? Listen to your internal dialogue – do you say things to yourself like,
“I could eat bone-healthy foods if I didn’t have such a sweet tooth,”
“I am just too lazy and undisciplined to exercise regularly.”
These self-condemning statements are not only negative; they can become excuses that prevent you from trying to improve your habits.
Of course, it’s not healthy or advantageous to blame everything on the environment, either; personal responsibility still holds true. But Lewin’s equation puts the situation in the center of these two extremes. Your behavior, in other words, is a product of your personal characteristics and how you individually respond to your environment.
Take the negative statements above. Maybe your “sweet tooth” is due in part to co-workers who have candy jars on their desks, or family members who always have sweets in the house. Perhaps you have trouble maintaining an exercise routine because you’re surrounded by people who don’t care about exercising and do not practice healthy lifestyle habits. Clearly, your environment has a marked influence on you, making it a challenge to overcome it and develop positive behavior.
But this realization can actually be very liberating. Rather than creating a sense of victimhood, discovering that your environment plays into your personal behavior relieves you of self-blame. It’s not “just you,” in other words. And your environment can change, especially if you take a proactive part in changing it (more on that in a moment).
In addition, it is just as liberating to understand the role your personality plays in all this. If some of your bad habits are due to unhealthy mindsets, for instance, you can work on changing those mindsets.
In short, mindset plus environment equals behavior.
Believe You Can!
Everyone reading this has the ability to change their mindset and break bad habits. Understanding and accepting this concept is the first step toward making positive behavioral changes.
And fascinating research suggests that sometimes a change of habit or mindset needs a “trigger” or motivation, as exemplified in the following study.
Eating Walnuts Improves Health…But Not The Way You Think
A Yale University randomized study revealed a surprising link between walnuts and health. Savers already know that walnuts are good for bones due to their Omega-3 fatty acid content and other Foundation Supplements; but when researchers monitored the health of 112 participants, some of which ate two ounces of walnuts daily for six months and others who did not eat any walnuts, they found something they did not expect.
Only half of the participants received nutritional counseling about the impact of walnuts on their daily caloric intake. Amazingly, both groups improved in nearly all health measures, including body fat and BMI.1
It turns out that including walnuts in the diet for six months “with or without dietary counseling to adjust calorie intake, significantly improved diet quality…”1
In fact, the only difference between the walnut-eating group and the non-walnut-eating group was that the walnut-eaters’ overall diets improved. The walnuts acted as a sort of trigger to motivate them to improve their overall food choices.
Head researcher David L. Katz commented that:
“Our primary outcome was diet quality, and that differed significantly between walnuts-added and walnuts-excluded. The implication of that is that…walnuts displace less nutritious foods when added to the daily diet; and…the net effect is a significant improvement in overall diet quality.”2
Finding Your Motivation
Getting back to Lewin’s equation, the walnut study shows that your mindset has much to do with your behavior. Remember the equation: B = f(P,E). The “P” is the part that is your personality and characteristics. It’s the portion of the equation that involves your commitment to making small changes in your behavior to achieve larger goals.
There was nothing exemplary in the the walnut study participants. They were not given personal trainers, and even those who did not receive nutrition counseling and ate the walnuts changed their diets for the better. Rather, they were ordinary people who were inspired to improve their food choices.
This is why providing information is one of the key aspects of the Save Institute. Knowledge is empowering, and the more you learn about bone health, about what motivates you, and discover unhealthy behaviors you need to change, the easier it is to make those lifestyle changes and stick with them.
This is all part of the “P” in Lewin’s equation – you, personally, with all your characteristics and quirks. Next we’ll look at the “E” part, and of course, you’ll be bringing the “P” with you! And that’s a good thing, as you’ll soon see.
Changing Your Environment Your Way
It’s tempting to think that your environment is entirely out of your control. Happily, this is not the case. You have more influence over your environment than you think, and you can adjust it to fit your individual personality.
Let’s go back to the sweet tooth. Part of the problem with giving up unhealthy foods is that they are so easily accessible. But that’s not difficult to change.
For example, ask your co-worker to move the jar of sweets somewhere that you can’t see it easily. At home, store the sweet treats in an inconvenient location, so when a craving hits, they’re not readily handy. This prevents mindless snacking.
Notice that keeping sweet treats in hard-to-reach places doesn’t completely deny you of the treats you enjoy – after all, total deprivation is not recommended on the Program and it’s nearly impossible to implement long-term. So designing your environment helps you to decrease the habit. And you’ll find that you get along just fine without indulging that habit every day, which will further inspire you to continue your quest to break it.
Basically, changing your environment comes down to minimizing prompts that trigger you to engage in bone-damaging behavior. Lewin’s equation gives you the insight you need to make changes accordingly, and it’s okay to start small. In fact, that’s the best way to start!
Big Changes Start With Small Steps
Positive behavioral changes are often best accomplished in small steps, such as a making few tweaks to your environment as described above, or replacing a bone-damaging snack with a healthy one. Feel free to do this at your own pace, but with the firm belief that “you’ll get there”. So even if you can’t do every single recommendation in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, each new good habit you form, or each bad habit you stop, will help your bones and your health, just like the study on walnuts has shown.
So keep Lewin’s equation in mind: “Behavior is a function of the Person in their Environment.” Your personal bone-health habits are the result of how you behave in your surroundings. And you have more control over both your behavior and your environment than you may have realized.
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program: From Knowledge To Action
At the Save Institute, we understand that information, including Lewin’s equation, must be put into action. To help you achieve this, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program includes a full section devoted to chapter summaries and Action Sheets.
This helps you put the information presented in the Program to practical use, and it condenses each chapter’s key concepts down to brief summaries that briefly reviews how each particular chapter applies to you. The Action Sheets, which you can print out and use as checklists, include practical steps and reminders to guide you on your bone health journey.
Here are some examples from the Action Sheets:
“Take a deep breath every once in a while, especially if you are stressed, to have adequate tissue oxygenation.”
“In addition to taking a daily supplement, try to spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun to get the most bio-available form of Vitamin D3.”
“Include some lycopene and polyphenol-rich foods in your daily menu.”
As you can see, adopting a bone-healthy lifestyle is achievable for everyone within their personal “equation.” So don’t be discouraged – take heart, learn to take small steps to form healthy habits, and remember that you’re never a helpless victim to your personality or your environment!
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Till next time,
1 Njike, Valentine Yanchou, et al. “Walnut ingestion in adults at risk for diabetes: effects on body composition, diet quality, and cardiac risk measures.” BMJ Open Diab Res Care. 3. E000115. (2015). Web. October 1, 2016. https://drc.bmj.com/content/3/1/e000115.full