Two very different trips to Berlin prompted this reflection on broken systems. The metaphor is chilling, but a new and better way is entirely possible!
As a teenager I visited my Aunt Karla who lived in Berlin. I had been there before… Continue reading →
A recent episode of “Brain Games” featured a social experiment on human behavior. They staged a waiting room where everyone (except one person, the subject) was instructed to stand up every time they heard a beeping noise.
After only a few beeps, the subject began standing up with the rest. She was not rewarded or instructed to do so, but she did it anyway. Slowly all the other participants left the waiting room, leaving only the subject. She kept standing at the beep. Then as new subjects entered the waiting area, all but one person mimicked her behavior and stood at each beep.
We humans are funny creatures. We have a natural tendency to go along with the crowd. Perhaps wanting to fit in is a survival mechanism, or maybe it is a social thing. Regardless, the fact is that even without logical reason we will conform to the environment and behaviors around us. We see it in residents demanding clothing protectors, even thought they never used them before. We see residents head back to their rooms after the evening meal and, at the call light, race to go to bed even though they used to enjoy staying up in the evenings. Could this be an anchor that has held long-term care in its institutional mindset?
Doing what everyone else does is a powerful human trait, but maybe we can use this tendency to create positive change. If people are so strongly driven to replicate the behaviors they are exposed to, then let’s give them some positive behaviors to grab ahold. And this goes for staff, families and residents alike. Look at an objective in your daily environment. What behaviors are mimicked by others? Are they positive ones? Are we building people up or tearing them down? The good news I see in the Brain Game experiment is that even when just one person exhibited a behavior, those around joined in. So it only takes one person to get something positive started.
We have the opportunity to use this human trait to make change, to plant seeds for positive behaviors and actions. If those around join in and behave the way we behave, then we can be a catalyst for change. However, we must be very consistent and aware of how others see us. If we are positive and supportive sometimes, and grumpy and talk about others behind their backs at other times, which behavior will others most likely repeat? Try playing some brain games of your own, and present those around you with positive behaviors. At the same time be very conscious of any negative behaviors you may be conforming to and speak up about them.
Driving home the other day I heard an interview that caught my attention. It was a reporter/writer that had spent a lot of time studying South Africa over the years. He focused on a visit where he was invited in … Continue reading →
A while back I was walking along, my mind ruminating on negative thoughts and worries. I found myself getting a little stressed out, tensing up and getting even more worried. And then, I suddenly felt better. A load had been … Continue reading →
In a 72 year (seriously…72 years) study, Harvard University researchers have been looking for answers to what makes for a happy life…This research affirms what most of us have felt for years: to live life well, we need healthy relationships with those around us. Continue reading →
Wellness means different things to different people. Unfortunately, many seem to think that wellness means lack of illness. If this were true, then many of the elders in nursing homes everywhere are doomed to a life void of wellness. In my years of experience I have found this “wellness = lack of illness” equation to be false. Continue reading →