The rule of 4 and other hints to improve your life with Roy Baumeister (Bonus Track)

Roy Baumeister, Ph.D. is a world-renowned researcher known for his work on the subjects of willpower, self-control, and self-esteem and how they relate to human morality and success. Most recently, he is the author of The Power of Bad, with John Tierney, which explores how powerful bad experiences can be and how life is better when we seek out the good. We discussed a bit of the new book as well as some of his highly researched topics.

Roy’s peer-reviewed papers have been cited more than 200,000 times and he’s published more than 30 books. As one might imagine, our conversation was packed with insights into how we feel, think and act based on the complex ways we view and experience the world. We felt like we were starting a master class when we hit the record button and we love sharing this conversation with you. [link to the podcast]

The first thing we discussed with Roy was about Emotions and Decision Making. Roy reminded us that emotions are not as lightning fast as we thought they were. The idea that emotions are what kept our ancestors safe from wild predators has been displaced by new science that indicates that anticipated emotions have a powerful effect on how we think.

It turns out that the best role that emotions play in our behaviors is in forecasting what our emotions will be after we do a particular behavior. These Anticipated Emotions help us decide what we should do NOW based on how we anticipate feeling LATER ON.

As Roy noted, it’s okay to write the email when you’re angry, but don’t hit send until you’re in a cooler state!

We talked about his new book with John Tierny, The Power of Bad, and how the best relationships have at least 4 good things happening for every one bad thing that happens. It’s a simple equation that has powerful implications.  It can be put to use immediately.

A large portion of our discussion with Roy was about self-control and how important this is from an evolutionary perspective. He shared his thoughts on two self-control studies that really excited us. One study found that if we burn energy for self-control on one thing, it reduces the body’s ability for self-control on other things. And the second study found that the self-control “muscle” can be exercised and strengthened. Roy said that training self-control, for one thing, can lead to increased self-control in other things. We like that concept and how it can apply to all sorts of home and work ideas.

Our last major discussion topic with Roy was on the need to belong and how the most loyal and committed people in an organization are the most likely to cut corners – like in Richard Nixon’s White House or the Volkswagen emissions scandal. It was people who believed they were being loyal who became bad actors. That’s a fascinating thing to consider in our world today.

Groove Idea: 

Okay, let’s get to the Groove Idea for the week. Tim and I are big believers in successful relationships – at work and at home. Roy’s recent book, The Power of Bad, indicated that we need at 4 good deeds to overcome 1 bad one. It’s the Rule of 4.

So we’d like you to use it the rule of 4 this week with people you have relationships with. If there’s something you said or did that wasn’t as kind or generous as it could have been, make sure you do 4 really nice things or say 4 very complimentary – and authentic – things to this person.

It’s not an experiment, but an act of kindness that will likely improve your anticipated emotional wellbeing. And it won’t cost a thing! So let’s end on something Roy said that inspired us when it comes to sticking to your guns on taking on new ideas, “I think we should admire the people who change their opinions.”

As always, drop us a line and let us know what you think!

And for now, we hope you get out there, have a great week, and keep on grooving.

Link to the podcast