61: An Electrifying New Way To Change Habits

61: An Electrifying New Way To Change Habits

00:00 / 00:58:46

An Electrifying New Way To Change Habits with Maneesh Sethi

In this “electrifying” interview, I catch up with Maneesh Sethi, blogger, world traveler, and creator of Pavlok, a behavior modification wristband that shocks you into achieving your goals.

And I do mean that literally!

When I first met Maneesh on a bus ride years ago, we connected right away. I was fascinated by his commitment to shape his best self and dream lifestyle. In fact, he is so committed he created and uses a wearable device that delivers a low voltage shock whenever the user commits a bad habit.

It’s aversion therapy for the masses, and its applications are endless … if you are brave enough to try it!

The Unconscious Power of Habits

There’s no getting away from it. Our habits define much of who we are and how we spend our time, but we have trouble knowing how to get a handle on them.

In his 2014 article “Making Habits that Last,” Maneesh Sethi writes:

“As I began the descent into my own bad habits, I realized something powerful: your brain doesn’t always have your best interests in mind.… The Reptilian Brain has one function that it likes to perform more than anything else: seek pleasure.”

Yet we know from the results of overeating, oversleeping, or overindulging in anything that seeking pleasure isn’t always in our best interests.

We live in a world that makes it easy to track our sleep, our steps, or whatever other habits we desire. The Fitbit, the Apple Watch, and countless apps promise to help us discover where we’re falling short and where we can improve. But ultimately, we’re on our own when it actually comes to changing those behaviors.

Or are we?

Pavlok (named in honor of Pavlov and his dogs, and because it “locks” on your wrist) promises not just to track what you do, but change what you do by adding a negative stimulus. We will work harder to avoid pain, Maneesh argues, then we would for a positive reward.

If that sounds harsh, you’ll be glad to know Pavlok can be adjusted through an integrated app that allows the user to set the stimulus from a mild buzz (think gentle reminder) to a more uncomfortable sting.

A 5-Day Personal Productivity Program

Pavlok isn’t all about negative punishment, though. The device comes with a 5-day coaching program to guide you along. The basic program goes something like this:

Day 1: No zap. Learn the science about habit-forming and the brain, and start to track unwanted behaviors.
Days 2 & 3: No zap. Learn to look for hidden triggers that cause behaviors and track.
Days 4 & 5: Receive zap when the negative behavior occurs.

Maneesh explains that in many cases just the promise of the negative stimulus is enough. Many users choose to stop the negative behavior after only one or two days just through the power of increased self-awareness (and the promise of future zaps, of course!)

Pavlok even offers additional apps targeted to specific behaviors, and in the podcast Maneesh gives us a preview of what’s in the works for future development.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • Why Maneesh once hired someone to slap him in the face (it’s true!)
  • The science behind how the primal brain forms deep unconscious patterns
  • Why we repeat undesirable behaviors like smoking, nail biting, negative thoughts, hitting the snooze button, overeating, or wasting time
  • The power of goal setting + stimulus to create the best version of yourself
  • How the Pavlok behavior-training device can change your habits in as as little as 5 days
  • A positive way to view ADHD and other attention disorders
  • How to use personality-type models to better understand ourselves and others
  • Key ways to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in yourself and your children

Resources Mentioned:

Special Thanks to Today’s Sponsors:

This podcast is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. If you love the benefits of bone broth but don’t love the time it takes to make and how tough it can be to find quality bones to make it, Kettle and Fire is for you! They have the first grass-fed (and grass-finished) non-perishable bone broth and it is ah-mazing! You can find them in many Whole Foods on the west coast and you can also order online from here.

Their bone broth is a regular staple in my kitchen these days, and it was what I used to create the recipes in my new bone broth e-book (releasing later this year).

This podcast is also brought to you by Thrive Market. If you live in a real food desert like I do, it can be difficult to find certain organic foods, speciality foods, or allergy-friendly foods. Thrive Market is my solution to this problem. They carry thousands of the non-perishable foods that I use most often at discount prices. I think of them as a combination of Costco, Amazon, and Whole Foods. They are online like Amazon, have a yearly membership fee to unlock discounts like Costco, and carry high quality foods like Whole Foods.

I order from them regularly and highly recommend them. Check out all of their products and grab a free jar of coconut oil here.

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Reader Comments

  1. wow this was super interesting I always imagined such a device and I can’t believe someone has actually created it… Thanks for cluing us in to amazing stuff, as always,

  2. I loved your podcast and decided to give the Pavlok a try.

    I also liked your personality test links. You mentioned on the podcast you know your childs personality type. How did you figure that out? Was there a test with questions more fitting to parents observations of their children that you used?


    • I’ve helped my older kids go through the 16-personalities test and the Fascinate test linked above to figure out theirs. I’ve only done this with the older ones though (ages 5+). The book he mentions about speedreading people is also helpful for figuring it out on younger ones.

  3. 2 years later and pavlok still can’t fix the issue with pairing the device to the app. Developers are more concerned with adding new features than fixing the product. I’ve lost all trust in this company and this man.

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