Ceiling Height Can Influence Your Thinking. Really?

Yes, really! Researchers from University of Minnesota and University of British Columbia have indeed shown that ceiling height can affect your thinking. They argue that low versus high ceiling can activate different concepts in your brain, and this will affect the way your brain process new information and do problem solving. A high ceiling would evoke concepts of freedom (abstract, relational thinking) while a low ceiling would evoke concepts of confinement (attention to details). By no means should you have the idea that one thinking method is better than the other. They are just different tools that can be used to solve different kind of problems.

The research results are about to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The researcher web page can be found here, and a copy of the research paper can be found here.

Now, if ceiling height can affect your thinking, what about your office color, layout, and furniture?

What about the software tool you use? Do some experiments yourself. Try to remodel your office space, and test different software tools until your find a best fit, which really improves your performance.

Building an Accomplishment History

There is no doubt that in order to accomplish a goal you must firmly believe that you CAN and you WILL accomplish it.

So, the next step is “How to put my brain in the right mood, to firmly believe it.”

You can try to repeat to yourself all day “Yes I can, Yes I can, Yes, I will”, but research has shown that the best way to do it is by building yourself an accomplishment history. The best predictor of your future behavior is your past behavior.

Banks and other financial institutions are well aware of that. They are seriously in the business of making money, and they can’t afford to take risks. They make the decision of weather to lend you money or not based on your credit history. The way you behaved towards paying your bills in the past is used to predict how you’ll be paying your bills in the future. Is this always true? Not necessarily, but for most of the cases, it is, and that’s what matter. They cannot afford to play with individual cases.

The same way you need to make your bank believe you’ll be paying them back, you need to make your brain believe you are capable of doing it, and that chances are high that you will eventually do it.

The best approach to do it is by building yourself an accomplishment history. Start small and let it grow over time. Set yourself small goals and learn how to appreciate what you have done by the end of the day. Keep it consistent. The results will be amazing.

Being Adaptive

Habits are good, but what would life be like if there were only “habits”? Boring! You don’t want to be a robot spending most of your life following programmed behavior patterns, do you?

Habits are good to free our brain to execute more noble and challenging tasks such as “adaptation”. That’s what make us humans so special, we can be amazingly good at that.

Most people are anxious about adaptation because it’s usually seen as a threat, causing us to feel insecure. However, when seen from a different perspective adaptation can be fun. Video games are all about new challenges and adaptation, and people love them, so, why not try some of that in real life?

You had planned a short weekend trip to the country side. Your goal was to be at “This Cute Little Town” before noon. You’ve made a perfect plan: what roads to take, where to stop for gas…and if you are like Jack Nicholson in “As Good as It Gets”, you had even planned “when to play your favorite songs”. It’s 10:30 AM, you’ve been driving for 3 hours and you’re now half way to your goal, …then you find out that Highway 83 has been blocked because of a landslide! What do you do now? Get angry? Cry? Give up your trip and go back home?

Well, the most important thing is to realize that your original plan WON’T WORK anymore, but there is no reason to despair. Now it’s your chance to exercise some of your “adaptation muscles“: if Highway 83 is blocked, what can I do to reach my goal (“This Cute Little Town”)? Are there other roads? Which one should I take?

Successful people have good habits, they know what their goals are, they are determined to reach their goals, they make good plans, but what really sets them apart is that they are very adaptive! They embrace new challenges and quickly adapt to the new conditions.