Blog #4 The 5 Second Rule

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the 5-second rule where you pick the food off the floor within the 5 seconds of dropping it and eating it.

The 5 Second Rule I’m talking about is this 5-second window that we, as humans, have to follow our instinct and take action.  After this window, our brain starts to cloud our minds with doubts, questions, and whatever other thoughts that can talk us out of the decision & action.

5 Second Rule.jpg

This 5 Second Rule was discovered by Mel Robbins, a CNN commentator, television host, life coach, author, motivational speaker, and contributing editor for Success magazine.  Here are some of the powerful points from the book:

  • The 5 Second Rule is a “starting ritual” that activates the prefrontal cortex, helping to change your behavior (prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that you use when you focus, change, or take deliberate actions).
  • Right before we’re about to do something that feels difficult, scary or uncertain, we hesitate.  Hesitation is the kiss of death.  You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes.  That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you.  And it happens in less than –you guessed it– five seconds.
  • Use the 5 Second Rule whenever you feel an instinct fire up to act on a goal or a commitment, or the moment you feel that yourself hesitate in doing something and you know you should do.
  • That 5 Second window is a moment when your instincts, values, and goals align, and you move so quickly you don’t have time or valid reason to stop yourself
  • None of us realize it, but we make almost every single decision not with logic, not with our hearts, not based on our goals or dreams — but with our feelings.
  • Study after study shows that we opt for what feels good now or feels easier rather than doing the things that we know in our hearts will make us better in the long run.
  • According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, it’s our feelings that decide for us 95% of the time.  You feel before you think.  You feel before you act.  As Damasio puts it, human beings are “feeling machines that think” not “thinking machines that feel.”  And that’s how you ultimately make decisions — based on how you feel.
  • Logically, we know what we should do, but our feelings about doing it make our decisions for us.
  • When you feel anxious, you are in a state of physical agitation.  When you tell a person to calm down, you are asking someone to go from 60mph to 0mph.  It’s like trying to stop a freight train by throwing a boulder in front of it; it’ll jump the tracks
  • A study in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy showed that people who naturally try to suppress their unwanted thoughts end up being more distressed by said thoughts.
  • Physiologically anxiety and excitement are the exact same thing.  The only difference between is what your mind calls it.
  • “Anxiety reappraisal” — reframing your anxiety as excitement — really works; since anxiety is a state of arousal, it’s much easier to convince your brain that all those nervous feelings are just excitement rather than to try to calm yourself down.  Also, it gives your mind an explanation that empowers you
  • Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks has conducted study after study to prove that “anxiety reappraisal” not only works to lower anxiety — it actually makes you perform better in math tests, speaking, and so forth!
***I’m a very science-based person so I connect strongly when research data are provided.  However, if you connect better with anecdotal data there are plenty of personal success stories provided in the book as well so please read the text.

Personally, I’ve always been more driven by logic than feelings.  However, last several years I’ve become more intuned with my feelings and that’s been quite revolutionary in becoming more self-aware.  However, when it came to decision-making and taking action I recognized myself to be a bit more hesitant and “paralysis by analysis.”  I have learned that there are times when spontaneity and listening to my feelings is great, like my trip to Oregon and some of the spontaneous adventures I took.  However, I need structure to guide my day to feel and actually be productive because well, my feelings are so unpredictable.  The 5 Second Rule confirmed my realization of needing to separate my feelings from my decision-making.  Not all the time but at times.

The 5 Second Rule is merely a tool, not the way of life.  It may work for some and may not work for some.  It all comes down to knowing yourself and figuring out what works best for yourself.  However, one way to figure that out is trying things…like the 5 Second Rule! 5-4-3-2-1 GO!


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