Data motivates, get credit, keep score

QUOTE: It was interesting to have a better sense of my daily habits. Also, the very fact of wearing a pedometer made me walk more. One of my worst qualities is my insatiable need for credit; I always want the gold star, the recognition. One night when I was in high school, I came home late from a party and decided to surprise my mother by cleaning up our messy kitchen. She came downstairs the next morning and said, “What wonderful fairy came in the night and did all this work?”and looked so pleased. More than twenty years later, I still remember that gold star, and I still want more of them. This generally negative quality had a benefit in this circumstance; because the pedometer gave me credit for making an extra effort, I was more likely to do it. One morning I’d planned to take the subway to my dentist’s appointment, but as I walked out the door, it occurred to me, “Walking to the dentist will take the same amount of time, and I’ll get credit for the steps!”Plus, I think I benefited from the “Hawthorne effect,”in which people being studied improve their performance, simply because of the extra attention they’re getting. In this case, I was the guinea pig of my own experiment. Walking had an added benefit: it helped me to think. Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,”and his observation is backed up by science; exercise-induced brain chemicals help people think clearly. In fact, just stepping outside clarifies thinking and boosts energy. Light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired, and even five minutes of daylight stimulates production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood. Many times, I’d guiltily leave my desk to take a break, and while I was walking around the block, I’d get some useful insight that had eluded me when I was being virtuously diligent.





What gets your attention?

What human needs or problems relate to the quote?

What is it like to have that problem?

What other resources connect to this idea?

What is the solution suggested in the quote, if there is one?

What would a camera see if the solution was implemented in my life, in my family’s life, or in my church or community?

What are the steps that I would take on Monday to implement that solution?



What does this say to my context as a …

… person?

… follower of Jesus? 

… to a church? 

… to a community – my neighbors?



The quote is from The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin,  located at page

Start reading this book for free:

This entry was posted in My Happiness Project. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.