So now that you understand all the ways that our health and well being fundamentally contribute to our ability to live a full, high quality life. I want to know, assuming that you did your assessment this week, what did you learn? Where are you thriving? What needs a little bit more of your love and attention? Did it confirm what you already know? Or did you learn something new about yourself? Whatever you got from the experience and I hope it was helpful, the point of this session is to explore what you might do with what you discovered. Now I want to warn you the session really is about where the proverbial rubber meets the road. You know it, I know it, lasting behavior change is no easy feat. Whether the change involves diet, exercise, daily habits, dependencies or anything else, it's likely one of the hardest things any of us will ever have to do. Have you or someone you know ever engaged repeatedly in a behavior that was obviously self-destructive. Like continuing to eat poorly after receiving a diagnosis of diabetes, or avoided participation in a new habit that you knew would be in your best interest. Like not following an exercise plan after having cardiac arrest, if so, then you already know just how tricky our minds are when it comes to trying to change our habitual behavior. Remember early on in the course when I told you that our brains operate with a reward based learning system, or habit loop that has a couple of key pieces. A trigger, a behavior, and a reward, and this evolved to help us remember where food is. You remember the hungry cave man, he finds food, he eats it, he feels good, and this helps him to remember where the food was, so he can repeat the behavior. This is reward based learning, though it may not always seem obvious, every habit ends in a reward. Even brushing your teeth has a reward, to tingly freshness that you feel in your mouth. If the reward is positive your brain will remember the habit and want to repeat it. Habits are powerful, research has shown that almost 40% of our everyday behavior is repeated in the form of habits. They shape our experience almost literally hour by hour. In fact, they're the key to her whole well being. Studies indicate that once formed habits become encoded in the brain structures and can never be truly eradicated. They're just replaced with stronger habits, that's why they're so difficult to change. It's not just a matter of willpower, it's a matter of rewiring the brain. But we can maximize our probability for success when we engage in behavior change mindfully. How? Well among other things, our mindfulness practice can help us address the driving impulse that's underneath so much of our habitual behavior. Remember, mindfulness teaches us how to observe what's going on in our bodies and in our mind in the moment without judgment. It helps us to meet reality with curiosity and a sense of allowing, rather than being pushed or pulled by the things we do or don't like about it. Because mindfulness increases our awareness we can use it to become more tuned in to the situations, people, emotional experiences, or places that trigger habitual behavior. It also gives us a chance to clearly see a habit loop in process. For example, maybe you're the type of person who mindlessly smokes a cigarette when you're bored. Or you buy a bunch of stuff online when you feel sad, can you tune into the feelings underneath the behaviours here? Feeling bored triggers the behavior to smoke which results in you feeling rewarded by the stimulation that comes from smoking. Being mindful of this as it's happening is like turning on a light in a dark room. When you can see your habitual behavior happening in real time, you can get a better sense of what's driving you to it, and what you're getting from it. And this second aspect is important, before we try to change our behavior, it's helpful to know what about it works for you. And you can bet that something does or you wouldn't be doing it, and then what about it's harmful? Setting aside some time to explore the costs and benefits of behavior is helpful because it gives us a chance to recalibrate the experience of the reward. If we can directly see the harm it's causing to ourselves and maybe even the people we care about, it changes the perceived reward value of the behavior. And as we've become less enchanted with behaviors that aren't as rewarding, space and possibility for new behaviors open up quite naturally for us, no willpower required. And lastly, remember that our mindfulness practice teaches us how to stay and simply be with the difficult, negative emotions that often drive our more compulsive habits. Over time we find that we don't have to work so hard to avoid or control certain emotions by distracting ourselves or eating our feelings. We can trust that we have enough resilience and inner wisdom to work with the difficulties of our life skillfully. We've included a few mindfulness exercises with this module designed to support you in changing the problematic behaviors in your life. One practice called RAIN is really helpful for dealing with difficult emotions. It can be accessed in almost any place or situation, or it can be done as a more formal meditation. What I like about it is that it directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through the confusion and stress that often accompanies hard times and hard feelings. This is useful because it allows us to be with the truth of things long enough for deep insight. And can stop us from engaging in pesky, ineffective coping habits that have caused us problems in the past. Another practice we've included is a loving kindness meditation, and its aim is to help us cultivate feelings of warmth and goodwill towards ourselves and others. It's been shown to improve emotional processing and to increase positive emotions. And it helps us quiet the default network of the brain, which is an aspect of the brain that gets activated when we crave things. You can try it out this week when you feel the urge to eat a cookie or not really hungry for or reach for a second or third glass of wine. Remember, we're both creatures of habit and creatures of change and adaptation. Our brains are continually evolving in response to our changing environment, and our adaptability is the secret to our success as a species. The challenge is to harness our adaptability and to use it towards a positive ends. To make choices about who we want to be in our world, you don't have complete freedom to create yourself. You do come with genetic gifts and limitations or temperament, but you have a lot more power to become the person you want to be than you might think. Since everything you do changes your brain, you can get trapped in habits by doing them over and over. Or you can make the decision to change those habits, choose a new path, and create new habits that are more in keeping with your values. The good news is the choice is yours.