Awareness of the Three Practices

When a person subscribes to my monthly newsletter, "Promoting Responsibility & Learning" at, the automated system prompts an inquiry as to how the person found out about it . Responses ranges from parents seeking ways to reduce their stress and promote responsible behavior to the following:

"I am an online student that does research from the net and just came across your site. I found it to be very enlightening and have decided to use it for personal  development."

I responded:

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

You are very perceptive. When you use the approaches, you are engaging in a paradigm shift. To quote Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989, p. 125), "A paradigm is like a new pair of glasses; it affects the way you see everything in your life."

Being positive with oneself and others, being aware that we ALWAYS have a choice in our responses, and using reflection to actuate behavioral change is, for most of us, a paradigm shift. Practicing these three noncoercive principles promotes responsibility, increases our effectiveness, improves our relationships, and reduces stress.

In a way it is, as Covey says, like being fitted for and wearing new glasses. It takes a little getting used to, but the brain adapts by making new neural connections. The more we practice, the stronger the reinforcement, the more glial cells our brain manufactures, and the easier and more creative we are in the use of the principles.

So as not to fall back on previous habits and approaches, it is necessary always to be AWARE of our choices. This is what is meant in the expression, "Live in the present." You can do this very simply by saying to yourself before any action, "I am choosing to . . . ."

Teaching young people—and yourself—to start with this internal dialog, "I am choosing to . . . , " is perhaps the most effective way to live a more fulfilling life. The reason is that awareness is the first step toward being in control and changing unsuccessful habits.