What would be the approach to overcoming negative behaviors and making positive changes in one’s life?

1. The first step involves Learning and Education – The systematic training of mind. By selecting and focusing on positive mental states and challenging negative mental states. Learning and education are important because they help one to develop conviction of the need to change and help increase one’s commitment. Therefore learning and education is the first step in bringing about internal transformation, rather than more transcendental or mystical spiritual practices. In try- ing to determine the reasons for these beneficial effects of education, scientists have reasoned that better educated individuals are more aware of health risks factors, are better to implement healthier life style choices, feel a greater sense of empowerment and self esteem, have greater problem solving skills and more effective coping strate- gies – all factors that contribute to a happier, healthier life.

  1. The next step is Developing Conviction (confidence) – This con- viction to change then develops in to determination.
  2. Determination and Enthusiasm – This determination transforms in to action. This step is also widely accepted by the cotemporary Western Science as an important factor in achieving one’s goals. In certain studies psychologists have examined the lives of some Amer- ica’s most accomplished artists, athletes, and scientists and have dis- covered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to their success in their respective fields. As in any other field, one could assume that this principle would equally apply to the art of achieving happiness. Behavioral scientists have extensively researched the mech- anism that initiates, sustains and directs our activities and that mech- anism is called ‘Human Motivation’.
  3. Human Motivation – Psychologists have identified three principle types of motives –- a) Primary motives – are drives based on our bio- logical needs that must be met for survival. This would include for example, needs for food, water, and air. — B) Stimulation and infor- mation. – This is an innate need required for proper maturation, de- velopment and functioning of nervous system. – c) secondary motives – these are motives based on learned needs and drives. Many second- ary motives are related to required needs for success, power, status or achievement. However these motives generated are not used only in the pursuit of worldly success but develops as one gains a clearer un- derstanding of the factors that lead to true happiness and are used in the pursuit of higher goals, such as kindness, compassion, and spiritual development.
  4. Action – The strong determination to change enables one to make a sustained effort to implement the actual changes.
  5. Effort – The final factor of effort is critical. This is the final factor in bringing about change. The effort is the necessary factoring estab- lishing new conditioning. Through new conditioning we can change our negative behavior and thoughts.

7. Genetic, Social and Cultural Forces; – While science has recently revealed that one’s genetic predisposition (one’s nature) clearly plays a role in an individual’s characteristic way of responding to the world. But most social scientists and psychologists feel that a large measure of the way we behave, think and feel is determined by learning and conditioning (one’s nurture), which comes about as a result of our up- bringing and the social and cultural forces around us. And since it is believed that behaviors are established by conditioning and reinforced and amplified by ‘habituation’, this opens up the possibility of extin- guishing harmful or negative conditioning and replacing it with help- ful, life-enhancing conditioning.