The Power of Small Changes

All it takes is a little nudge.

No one wants to be called a nudge. In case you needed proof of this, let us turn your attention to trusty Dictionary.com, which defines the noun form of the word nudge as “a person who pests.” Ew. Can we not bring pests into this?

What we often overlook, though, is that there is another way to use the word nudge — as a verb, and one that means “to touch or push gently,” according to Merriam-Webster. This take on nudging is explored in the most recent episode of one of our favorite podcasts, The TED Radio Hour. The episode is called, well, Nudge, and it explores the shocking power of small changes in the way that we act and speak to each other. Tweaks that seem minor have been proven to have massive results in all kinds of outcomes, and while the examples detailed in the episode are at a much larger scale than the things we encounter in our own lives, it’s encouraging to see that there’s real strength in baby steps. Those cheesy sayings about starting small? They might not be so cheesy, after all.

In this episode, the TED Radio Hour brings together an addictions specialist, a highly respected psychology professor, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and two behavioral economists. While it would be impossible for us to sum up their brilliance in a matter of a few sentences — these people are seriously smart, and we would totally recommend a deep dive into the podcast itself if you want to learn more — we feel pretty confident that even a sneak peek into what they had to say will get your wheels turning on the power of the nudge. Here are a few of our key takeaways:

  • It’s easier to push people in the right direction when you stop telling them what to do and start encouraging them to pay close attention to themselvesAddictions psychiatrist Judson Brewer speaks to the importance of mindfulness in helping smokers quit their unhealthy habit. Smokers who were treated with mindfulness — who were encouraged to tap into their own bodies and really pay attention to how they felt when they needed to smoke and what the actual experience of smoking felt like — are twice as likely to give up cigarettes as those smokers treated simply with medication and reminders that smoking is baaaaad, he says. This is Exhibit A for nudging — a real world example of what happens when we reframe the way we think about people and behaviors and (in this case, at least) encourage others to do the same.
  • A growth mindset is all about semantics. As kids, many of us got used to hearing how darn great we were. “You’re so smart!” “You’re so great at soccer!” “You’re an amazing artist!” It felt good to hear that, huh? Even now, we think back on the praise of our childhood and feel a little ego boost. (Thanks for that, Mom!) While we’re all about positivity here at bulldog, we were fascinated by psychology professor Carol Dweck‘s thoughts on the importance of believing that you actually have room for improvement. Kids whose parents and teachers say things like “I love seeing how hard you’re working!” or even “Not yet!” are less likely to be frustrated by challenges, because they don’t feel a crushing pressure to be good at something all the time. Nudge-y changes to the way we talk to each other about strengths and challenges can help all of us get more confident moving out of our comfort zones… and even more comfortable with — gasp! — failing.
  • Thanks to nudge, solving big problems is often a lot easier than you think. You’ve probably heard a lot about the movement to bring more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The gender gap in these industries has been well-documented, and people much, much smarter than we are have been working to solve that discrepancy for years. Reshma Saujani — founder and CEO of Girls Who Code — speaks to a refreshingly manageable approach to the problem, and it all comes down to access to technology for young girls. “It’s a nudge that can have massive consequences,” she says. “This is the big secret. You can convert girls pretty quickly. You just have to show them what [technology] is and what they can do with it… You can close the gender gap in our lifetime. It’s absolutely possible and doable.” Thanks to nudge, apparently!
  • Thinking of something as a choice can often make it more complicated. Behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan uses his daily workout as an example of this itty bitty mental shift. Ever since he stopped thinking about going to the gym every morning as a choice, it became way easier for him to actually do it. He goes to the gym every day because… well, because he goes to the gym every day! Like most of us, he says that if he gave himself a choice in the matter every day, he probably wouldn’t get out of bed for a sweat session nearly as often.

Do you see what we mean about baby steps? About the very real chance that, simply by making a small adjustment to the way you think or talk about something, you can massively change the way that that something plays out in your life? How cool is that?

If you want to reach a goal or make a change, bulldoggers, start small. Start with a nudge!

When has a nudge made a big difference in your life? Tell us more on Facebook + Twitter!

***You can get the bulldog experience anywhere, anytime with our online classes — and make sure you check out our full line of bulldog swag, too! Don’t forget to subscribe to the bulldog blog so you can get e-mail notifications about every new post.***

Featured image: Kamil Manka/Unsplash; lights image: Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

 

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    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 I'm fairly new to practicing yoga. I love that I can access this from my home so I can get a nice 25-30 minute yoga session in right before I get ready for work. It helps me feel refreshed and energized for the day. I love the different levels and intensity of the sessions, so I can choose which type of class I want to take depending on the way my body feels. I've only been a member for a week but I'm loving this so far!
    Shannon L.
    April 8, 2018

    I'm fairly new to practicing yoga. I love that I can access this from my home so I can get a nice 25-30 minute yoga session in right before I get ready for work. It helps me feel refreshed and energized for the day. I love the different levels and intensity of the sessions, so I can choose which type of class I want to take depending on the way my body feels. I've only been a member for a week but I'm loving this so far!

    bulldog online Rating: 4 out of 5 Good quality soft material. The white is nice and bright. Washed AMAZING! Had two big black stains and was able to get them out and my tank still looks new and white! Tank is a little boxy fitting but super cute with a side knot or back knot! The saying is a perfect reminder of how strong you are physically and mentally no matter where you are in your Bulldog journey! Excited to add to my new collection!!!
    Lindsey O.
    April 5, 2018

    Good quality soft material. The white is nice and bright. Washed AMAZING! Had two big black stains and was able to get them out and my tank still looks new and white! Tank is a little boxy fitting but super cute with a side knot or back knot! The saying is a perfect reminder of how strong you are physically and mentally no matter where you are in your Bulldog journey! Excited to add to my new collection!!!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 Love
    Kathy N.
    April 2, 2018

    Love

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 I love bulldog yoga! Every class is one hour full of fun music and a kick a** instructor so when I walk out I feel stronger and calmer at the same time! I also love the online flexibility so I can take class from anywhere!!
    Bizette G.
    April 1, 2018

    I love bulldog yoga! Every class is one hour full of fun music and a kick a** instructor so when I walk out I feel stronger and calmer at the same time! I also love the online flexibility so I can take class from anywhere!!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 Loved Tessa's online Invigorate. The online classes are just as great as the in studio :) Would highly recommend to anyone who doesn't have access to the studio or wants to Bulldog from home!
    Allison S.
    March 31, 2018

    Loved Tessa's online Invigorate. The online classes are just as great as the in studio :) Would highly recommend to anyone who doesn't have access to the studio or wants to Bulldog from home!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 Amazing feature !!! Love these classes!
    Mary W.
    March 30, 2018

    Amazing feature !!! Love these classes!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 I took a class last week. It was creative, fun and set to great music. I don't particularly love practicing at home, preferring my studio. This has been a welcome addition to my routine. It changed my mind about streaming class.
    Jane S.
    March 24, 2018

    I took a class last week. It was creative, fun and set to great music. I don't particularly love practicing at home, preferring my studio. This has been a welcome addition to my routine. It changed my mind about streaming class.

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 No matter your level of yoga or fitness this IS for you!!! I love how it fits my most busy days and laid back! I can do it anywhere! Also I love how you feel stronger after only a short period of doing bulldog and also how it still challenges you months later! There is nothing like it! Love it!!
    Lindsey O.
    March 22, 2018

    No matter your level of yoga or fitness this IS for you!!! I love how it fits my most busy days and laid back! I can do it anywhere! Also I love how you feel stronger after only a short period of doing bulldog and also how it still challenges you months later! There is nothing like it! Love it!!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 I love bulldog yoga! It's helped me get back in shape after having kids. Best way to work out!
    Madison J.
    March 20, 2018

    I love bulldog yoga! It's helped me get back in shape after having kids. Best way to work out!

    bulldog online Rating: 5 out of 5 These classes are so great when you can't make it into the studio. They are just like a live class minus the heat
    Megan S.
    March 17, 2018

    These classes are so great when you can't make it into the studio. They are just like a live class minus the heat