Nutrition, sleep, circadian rhythm … so many key points to optimize to activate your full potential all the time. But how can you do it? I propose the sausage principle—a name that clearly reveals that I have spent many years in France, where nibbling on delicious dry sausage is a social pastime. What is the link between sausage and well-being? No, it’s not the aperitif. The same way you enjoy dry sausage, I propose achieving goals or making a change by dividing the objective into thin slices, each offering a moment of pleasure and appreciation that makes you want to start over again, all in the company of friends.
A change, such as adopting a lifestyle to boost your well-being, depends on neuroplasticity. This is good news because we can use this information to reach the goals faster.
Here are a few basics: When a craving is satisfied, dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in well-being, is released. With dopamine comes a feeling of pleasure, which helps to establish neuronal connections that reinforce the habit. The first time you do something, the dopamine reward comes after the event. Each time thereafter, dopamine is released earlier and earlier, until the mere fact of thinking about that action causes an anticipated dopamine surge. The dopamine preceding the action motivates you to adopt the behavior.
4 KEYS TO SUCCESS: THE SAUSAGE PRINCIPLE
Thin slices. Changing behavior requires willpower, which uses serotonin. Willpower is a bit like a muscle. It gets tired. However, you need a lot less willpower if you divide a goal or a change into thin slices—this is also called chucking, but that doesn’t fit the metaphor as well. Take the small changes one at a time. There is power in accumulation.
The taste of pleasure. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. To make a change or reach a goal more easily, you can increase your serotonin to boost your will. How? Go out in the sun, get a massage, do some exercise, or think about some good memories. Serotonin is made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Your body does not synthesize this amino acid, so you have to eat it. It is found in foods such as nuts, almonds, cashews, turkey, cheese, and red meat.
Enjoy each bite. Each achievement, no matter how small, deserves your full attention, because that’s how you get the dopamine flowing to stay motivated. Studies show that focusing on each step and small wins effectively contributes to building new habits.
In good company. Research shows that behavior and feelings are contagious in our relationships up to three degrees. Whatever behavior change you want to create, find people who encourage you and want to change too.