Which is Better? Short-term pleasures or long-term goals?

Dr. Katharina Bernecker

Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

Dr. Cooper: (00:00)

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute. And last month I was reading one of my favorite columnist, Jason Gay of the wall street journal. And his article was titled you read Ulysses all eat potato chips, science defends, simple pleasures. Well, obviously I had to dig in and soon after that I was trading emails with the researcher in Zurich, whose research he was quoting Dr. Katharina Bernecker. I’m not sure we’ll give you reason to reach those potato chips, but we will be exploring self-control hedonic goal pursuit and so much more in this. I mean, this was just a fun, fun discussion. If you’re wanting to pursue your wellness coach certification before the end of 2020, your last chance is now just a couple of weeks away, November 14th and 15th, it’s all virtual that weekend, and you can complete the rest of the requirements virtually as well, but the past five fast track events have filled up early. So if that’s an interest head over to CatalystCoachingInstitute.com or reach out to us anytime Results@catalystcoachinginstitute.com. Now let’s dig into the evidence surrounding self-control hedonic goals, stress, and so much more on this latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching podcast. Well Dr. Bernecker welcome to the Catalyst Health Wellness and Performance Coaching podcast.

Dr. Bernecker: (01:21)

Thanks a lot for inviting me, Brad.

Dr. Cooper: (01:23)

The wall street journals Jason Gay tapped into your research to write an article about how potato chips can actually provide as much pleasure as long-term accomplishments, which I tend to think no way. Can you tell us more about what the research really says beyond what Jason did with the whole thing?

Dr. Bernecker: (01:41)

Yeah, so I also, I also read the article and was pretty entertained by it, it had a good take on it. Um, but I also think he took it maybe a bit too far. So I think, um, I’m going to try to twist it back in. Yeah, yeah. So, so what we did in this research was really looking at, uh, people’s ability about pursuing their hedonic goals. By hedonic goals we mean stuff that we do just to really get immediate pleasure or enjoyment out of it. So might be relaxing on the sofa, eating potato chips, going for a walk, you name it. And, um, what we thought when we started this project was that actually getting pleasure, pleasure out of these activities is not as easy as we might think. It’s not an automatic. And this is because we are also having long-term goals in our lives that we regard as very important. So we want to be successful in our careers. We want to be good parents, good partners. We want to stay fit, you know, all of these goals that we all pursuing, and then what’s in a, it wouldn’t be, uh, trying to get immediate pleasure or, you know, enjoy a pleasant moment. This is maybe not conducive to these long-term goals at all. Maybe you might even be in conflict. And these are situations when we experience something that we call intrusive thoughts. So for instance, when we are relaxing on the sofa, and then we think about the sports that we should actually be doing, or about the laundry that should be done, or that call we wanted to do. So basically our long-term goals are getting into the way of us really enjoying that moment. And yeah, so far self-control research was, we’re always thinking the other way around. So that hedonic goals actually get into the way of our long-term goals, right. They distract us from what is actually important in all these guilty pleasures and temptations. And we thought, yeah, it’s the other way around too. So sometimes we want to relax and sometimes we want to have fun. And also these situations just kind of conflict between these two things, having pleasure now or pleasure later is kind of relevant to us and, and might actually get into our way.

Dr. Cooper: (03:51)

That is really interesting. So the first thing that pops in my head as you’re talking this through that is this whole almost overblown idea of mindfulness now, but being focused on what am I doing now, whether that’s eating a potato chip or writing up my latest PhD research study or something, can you talk us through, what was that a part of it was that did that lead into some of the, the way you set up the research?

Dr. Bernecker: (04:15)

I think it’s definitely a related concept that we should study in the future. So how would you relate to that idea that really sometimes we really need to focus on what we are doing and that also switching between different things might be harder for some people than for others. So, but I think it’s definitely related. So really kind of making a decision what to do next and then really being there with your whole heart and mind, you know, and not letting these intrusive thoughts come in. Yeah, I think it’s, it should be related for sure, but we didn’t have to pretend, you know, to study it. And that whole thing that we, that we started on. So, but collaborations are already in progress on that.

Dr. Cooper: (04:56)

Excellent. Excellent. We’ll have to stay in touch and hear what you’re doing with that. Yeah. As I was going through my PhD, my professors consistently had to remind me, Brad, you can only have so many variables you can’t throw, I know that’s interesting. I know that’s a fun idea. You can’t throw it into this study. It’s not going to work. So I definitely hear you.

Dr. Bernecker: (05:15)

Yes, one thing at the time.

Dr. Cooper: (05:16)

So your, your research didn’t specifically go this direction, but as you were talking to folks, maybe some of the qualitative aspects of it, were there tips that came out of this of, because as you’re going through, I’m just thinking, Oh my gosh, she’s describing me. Like I struggled with that so much. And I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, we have a ton of like super type A people that listen to this show and they’re like, Oh my gosh, that’s so true. Like I’m not enjoying the show. I’m watching the show just cause I need some downtime, but I’m thinking about my, you know, thing I’m supposed to be doing over here or that, did you, did you pull any tips or did you garner anything out of that? That we can go, Oh, that would be helpful.

Dr. Bernecker: (05:56)

Yeah. So at the moment we are conducting studies where we look at planning, hedonic activities, so kind of really making room for them in our everyday life and our busy schedules. And whether that might tell, and we already have some data that’s showing really that planned hedonic activities, um, have less of these intrusive thoughts. So people really seem to have less trouble, you know, of saying, okay, now I’m going to relax. And then, you know, an hour later, I’m going to do something else. So I think that might help. But at the same time, the question is whether we also enjoy these activities more. And there, I’m not sure yet, because I also think that really in this hedonic moments, it’s also about what you need, you know, and what you want to do. So planning ahead, you know, the beautiful hike or the evening with your friends. I mean, it could also be that, you know, in this moment, at this very moment, you would enjoy something else better. So there’s also, there might be also some processes that actually in the end, we should be more spontaneous, you know, to really fit our needs. So at the moment we are kind of in this running another study, looking into this other process, I can already say that these intrusive thoughts definitely go down for things that we include in our daily plan. And I think it is really just because we know it’s going to happen. We can already make some progress on the longterm goal that might distract us in the end. So we are really kind of fitting it in. And I think therefore it really gets more time.

Dr. Cooper: (07:26)

Okay. So two really interesting concepts there, let’s run down a couple paths. So the planning piece and correct me if I’m saying this wrong, but I heard you say, when I plan this more hedonic activity, it’s almost like it lets me off the hook from focusing on this long-term achievement because I’ve planted in, I booked it out. So for example, my wife and I enjoy watching one show most evenings of the night. And so I’m not, I’m not a TV watcher at all, like almost zero, but that hour with her, I really enjoy. And I’m not thinking I should be doing something. So if I’m hearing you right, you’re saying, well, that’s cause you kind of plan that in. And so you’re shutting off the more long-term stuff, am I hearing that part, right?

Dr. Bernecker: (08:11)

Yes. Yes, that’s right. So I think you already know that within that hour you will not work out or work on anything that’s conducive to things in the longterm. So you’re, don’t even have that expectation that this is a productive hour, you know, for one of your long-term goals. So it’s really, we are also our regulation with these long-term goals is not that we want to achieve them in one day. Right. We know that once we do it, because, you know, we have expectations of how much can we actually achieve in one day and this expectation, which just, you know, be smaller for that day because you know, well, this one, Oh, I’m not gonna invest into anything, but really in my momentary pleasure.

Dr. Cooper: (08:56)

Okay, and then the other side of the coin you talked about, but spontaneity has value in what we’re finding in what way? Like how?

Dr. Bernecker: (09:03)

Yeah. So, so what I found in that study was that, you know, the, the number of intrusive thoughts goes down lower for planned activities. But then at the same time, the enjoyment didn’t go up. And that tells me that there must be another process working against us basically in just getting the most pleasure out of it. And one just intuition that I have about it is that yeah, the spontaneous, um, activities we are doing might meet our immediate needs a bit better. So we’re really, you know, would like to do something I don’t know, social, and then we should go for the social. And the planning has the problem that you cannot tell, or maybe some people can, but I think in general, we are maybe not good at knowing what we would like to do, you know, next weekend. So if you have something planned, sometimes it happens and you think, ah, I would rather like to stay home on the sofa, but you have to be out with your friends then maybe therefore the enjoyment is you might have less intrusive thoughts, you know, when having those beers, but maybe you don’t enjoy it as much because it’s something that you wouldn’t have chosen in that very moment.

Dr. Cooper: (10:12)

Right. Okay. Good. Good. All right. So this question overlaps a little bit of what we’ve talked about, but in your research with hedonic goal pursuits, what are some of the most important things you’ve learned more broadly? And you’ve mentioned a couple of them, but what else is out there that would be important or interesting for us to learn about?

Dr. Bernecker: (10:30)

So I think we do just the insight that it’s not automatically given that you’re gonna enjoy the moment just because you want to. So, and then also just the insight that sometimes we have these moments where we do things where we just want to have fun in the moment. And that was an insight for me that there is something like in hedonic goal, you know, it’s not a temptation it’s just popping up. That’s how we thought about it. Or many self-controlled researchers were thinking about it that, you know, suddenly there’s this piece of chocolate cake and then self-control means to, um, not go with it or to, you know, um, just inhibit that, that impulse. And I think in life, it’s really also about in a sense that, you know, yeah sometimes you really want that now. And it’s, it’s really a decision a motivation that we, that we can study and find out, you know, what helps people to get the best thing out of their hedonic goals as well. So it’s not only, you know, impulses and sudden things that happen to us.

Dr. Cooper: (11:29)

So are you getting pushback from the like self-discipline group, not necessarily researchers, but just folks that are like, Oh, that’s a terrible idea. Especially after Jason wrote about you in any, any feedback you’re getting or pushback you’re getting on that front.

Dr. Bernecker: (11:44)

So, so, so far the feedback was really amazing, really positive from onsite. So we sent the article to some of our colleagues that are really big names in the field and they really replied super positively and agree that this has been overlooked maybe in the past that there is some adaptive, healthy side to hedonism or to hedonistic pursuit it’s not only guilty pleasures and something we should inhibit in like every moment of our life. But I think, I think a few degrees and there’s also some streams, I would say in other authors that have already done research, that’s going kind of in a similar direction. So I think we are in a good place at the moment to really hopefully spark some new interest in when that, and maybe changing a bit the way people think about these pleasant moments.

Dr. Cooper: (12:32)

Where did this all start? Like when did you sit there and go, you know, I think I’ll invest two years in a research study on,

Dr. Bernecker: (12:40)

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. It was really, it was really over two beers. So I conducted this research together with Daniella Becca, you know, so we were both, post-docs in a very small city in Germany and they have been super nice, you know, um, bar where we went together with another colleague. And we really thinking about, um, self-control and talking about that research and there, it really kind of suddenly popped out as you know, we are really also missing a really important, important part of life, you know, by only looking into this, the self disciplined way, and we all need to be super successful and healthy and whatnot. So it was really one of those moments where I thought, wow, that’s a good idea. And we should really start a project on this.

Dr. Cooper: (13:33)

Interesting. Very interesting. Very cool. All right. So self-control is a core element of your research. Um, a lot of our listeners are, are kind of health and wellness related. We tend to focus on this whole self-control aspect, but then we’ve had guests like Dr. Wendy Wood, Dr. BJ Fogg, you’re probably familiar with their work point is in the way to maybe we don’t need as much self-control and we just need to reduce the friction so that it’s just easier to do stuff. Can you talk us through this self-control concept building on what you’ve just talked about and taking it maybe one level deeper?

Dr. Bernecker: (14:10)

Yeah. First of all, I, I think I totally agree with them. So the, in the past couple of years, I’d say 20 years, there was a lot of research on self-control as being really about inhibition of things. So really this kind of self disciplined way of forgoing the temptation and not looking at it. And, um, I think that more and more we learned that it’s maybe more about things like strategies, you know, don’t even put the temptation in front of your eyes, maybe avoid, um, you know, certain situations and, and that this actually makes people successful. So not this kind of self discipline as we imagine it, you know, you’re really effortfully controlling your behavior and your thoughts. So I really agree that maybe we are now turning or the research is a bit more turning again towards something that seems a bit more effort, less, I would say than effortful. And then the add of the friction part. Yeah. It’s to me, it’s, it’s really, um, I would agree that in the end, I think it would be nice if we could find a way of really getting our hedonic goals and long-term goals aligned, you know? So when things,

Dr. Cooper: (15:22)

We’ve got to run down that path, interesting. Yeah. Build on that. What do you mean getting hedonic goals and long-term goals aligned? I’m kind of like, that would be awesome, but I I’d be, I don’t know where to start.

Dr. Bernecker: (15:39)

Yeah. So, um, yeah, so there’s some super nice work by, by Katelyn Woolley, who’s at Cornell university, and she’s for instance, showing that people are more persistent in their longterm goals, um, when they enjoy pursuing them. And it’s actually a more important predictor of persistence then, um, if you ask people, how important is it to you? I mean, of course it’s important to us, you know, in the sense that we set this goal for us, but this is not, what’s really driving us, or what’s getting us through, you know, until the end what’s actually helping us is if it’s fun. And then I, for them that makes total sense. Right. And so you can actually have your hedonic goals, so pleasure in the moment integrated into your long-term goal. So let’s, for instance, say your goal is to stay fit or become fit, well there are tons of ways of how to do it. And I think the question is, how do I approach it? So is there some kind of sport that I would enjoy more? So I don’t need to go to the gym because everyone’s going to the gym. I can also, you know, meet with friends and play some soccer or take a nice walk, you know? Um, so it’s, there’s different ways. And I think it’s, it’s really about finding the right goal. That’s fits me, but it’s also about finding the right means of how to do it and maybe listening a bit more to, you know, what’s fun to me as, um, yeah as an indicator of, yeah maybe I should choose that path and not the one that’s super hard and, you know, the self discipline path

Dr. Cooper: (17:07)

That I’m supposed to be doing. Yeah. Okay, good. Um, okay. Excellent. So someone looking to make the most of their health, wellness, performance, which I understand is also a big part of your research. So maybe we can run down a couple of rabbit trails here. Are there a few suggestions you put at the top of the list in terms of guidance? You mentioned one, is it fun? Am I naturally drawn to it? Other tips that come out of that idea of, I want to improve my health, my wellness, my performance. What is your research telling us in terms of the way to optimize that?

Dr. Bernecker: (17:41)

Um, so I already kind of mentioned strategies. I think, uh, lots of people who have good self control are kind of, they found a way of really getting things to be a bit more easy. So maybe it’s really about finding, okay, where’s the situation where I usually change my mind of not going to the gym. And can I reduce, you know, the, the likelihood, so maybe it is taking yours sports shoes already to the office and then going directly, or maybe it is to meet with other people, you know, that would remind you, Hey, you’re coming out for the gym tonight. So I think it’s really about finding these kind of little strategies that help you just, you know, keep going with it. Right. And yeah. And also, yeah, that’s the fun part of it, don’t forget about the fun part. So even if you’re working, you know, you have many things you could work on, so maybe you choose the one that’s at the moment, the one that seems most attractive to you.

Dr. Cooper: (18:36)

Okay. So let’s explore a little bit, what about the person who’s watching this or listening to this and saying that all make sense, but I just don’t like exercise. Like I don’t like playing soccer. I don’t like joining a karate club. I don’t want to get on a bike. I just want to sit and watch when TV, I’m just tired. I just want to sit and watch TV. Are there any tips for that person that they, they can’t even find anything in that exercise movement category that does sound like fun, any guidance on that front?

Dr. Bernecker: (19:10)

Yeah, no, I really wonder then whether it’s the right goal, you know, whether I can really, or whether there’s really a point where you should say, well, maybe it’s not the best, the best goal for me to, I don’t know, be super fit, having a six pack. So maybe you can just reduce that goal, why does it need to be, um, that maybe you find something else and maybe you just staying healthy is maybe you can really just reduce to some low exercise, like taking a walk, and maybe you do that for one hour because it’s super nice weather out. And so somehow I’m reluctant to believe that you cannot find anything and, or maybe you have to be a bit more creative in finding ways that would get you there and then picking the one that’s closest to what you enjoy.

Dr. Cooper: (20:02)

It seems like we’re seeing a lot of research around good begets more good. So if you say, I just don’t like moving. Okay. Maybe is there some fun cooking thing you want to do that you eat healthier? And we just put the movement exercise over here for a bit, and then as you’re eating healthier, you’re feeling better. Now, maybe the exercise takes hold again. I don’t think that’s not specifically the research I’ve read of yours, but have you explored that area at all of, of A begets B or expands upon B?

Dr. Bernecker: (20:34)

Um, so not so much. So in the, in the past, I was really a bit more in the direction of what we think, how, how our, our self-control works. So whether it’s kind of just capacity that gets depleted over time, whether we rather think about us, think about it as kind of capacity that we have, and that rather gets activated. So this was kind of during my PhD time, the concept of implicit theories about willpower, that would, that I was most interested in. And what we found was that people have just different ideas about your willpower. And if you think about it as something that is limited and that over time, you know, it gets less and less and less, these people have really have more trouble in self control areas are also report low wellbeing, um, have trouble sticking to their diet plans. So, um, these kinds of ideas that we have seem to be important about promoting self control, but then the question is how can we change them? And therefore it’s, if you ask me for guidance and all I can tell you about, geez, these ideas about willpower that you might have, or not the question is whether you can change it, you know, and I think there is kind of this piece of evidence missing yet that there’s like an intervention study of something that’s showing that people can really also subscribe to the non-limited idea and just basically go on with whatever they are they are working on. And therefore, yeah, it’s, it’s hard to use that piece of evidence or that research, um, for guidance yet. So I think it’s really a matter of finding the right way of moving people around on these theories

Dr. Cooper: (22:11)

And then kind of bridging the gap between those two, allowing that willpower, my PhD work was in mental toughness. So the how to enhance that, and then combining that with less friction and greater joy in pursuing those things, if we bring those three together, the outcome is almost predetermined.

Dr. Bernecker: (22:32)

Although I have to say, now that you mentioned it, there’s really one research paper that’s already been pointing to this direction, that it’s also maybe about the fun or doing something that is really out of your own interest. So I’m not sure whether you’re familiar with the concept of autonomous motivation basically describes, you know, things that we do out of our own passion and interests. And there was a study by Vonda Seba and colleagues that shows that if we are pursuing goals on an autonomous motivation, because we, we really want to, and it’s our own interests, um, rather than, you know, because I want to get the good grade or someone you should do it exactly. Then people develop this non-limited theory about their willpower. Um, I think there’s already some hint to, with that, doing something out of passion really energizes you, and you can basically go on. So it’s really almost the same, you know, as, as kind of all this research is saying, so just autonomous passion kind of drive striving for goals seems to be the one that’s really successful.

Dr. Cooper: (23:40)

Okay. Excellent, excellent. Uh, stress, you’ve studied quite a bit with stress and everyone seems to be under more stress than usual in the current global situation. Have you made any discoveries in your research that might vary from the typical stress management recommendations that every everyone seems to be spouting about?

Dr. Bernecker: (24:00)

Yeah. Um, so I think one finding that might be interesting, um, for your listeners is, um, I studied stress in combination with, um, with these implicit theories that I just talked about implicit theories about willpower. And what we found in our studies was the people with this idea that willpower is limited and something that’s getting depleted over time. And when they are most stressed during the day, they also tend to go to sleep later. So they engage in what we call bedtime procrastination. So basically with the idea that the idea that they have to refill their resources during their awake time. So they come home super stressed and then, you know, it’s more about, okay, let’s put Netflix on, you know, have a good meal and really taking your time to refill what you’ve lost over the day basically

Dr. Cooper: (24:54)

Just based on belief, it’s entirely based on their belief. I think it’s limited, or I don’t, that’s what you looked at?

Dr. Bernecker: (25:01)

Exactly, exactly. What we ask people. And then we find that they go to bed up to a half an hour later, then other folks, which basically means they’re missing out on what would actually refill their resources, so it’s kind of irony of you know, but sleep would really be the best probably to refill and yeah, in the end, I think this is maybe something to consider. So when you come home from a stressful day, I can totally see that thought, you know, I do it probably the same, but maybe it’s really questioning whether okay. After this day, I mean, it’s, it’s really the best idea to watch Netflix until half past 12, or do I rather go to bed early today and try it, you know, to get a bit more rest, like actual rest.

Dr. Cooper: (25:45)

Okay. So that flips us back to our earlier conversation about the hedonic. I want to, I want to just binge on Netflix. I just want to have that extra glass of wine or whatever it is versus, but sleep would do me more good, long term. So can we connect these two a little bit here?

Dr. Bernecker: (26:04)

That’s it, it’s super interesting idea. And I think they are connected in the sense that I don’t know what people think about this hedonic activities they’re doing, whether it’s for them actually, something to refill their resources, to be able to then perform, you know, that the next day or an hour later, you know, they go to the gym before that day do something that is maybe more enjoyable. And I don’t know, sometimes I feel it’s a bit sad that so just hit head on this idea of feeling, getting the pleasure in the moment that we kind of even use that to be more productive. So it’s still in the end about productivity and being successful. And I don’t, I don’t like that so much that maybe some people are so much valuing the longterm outcomes that even the pleasurable moments are kind of peaked in the favor of these long-term goals to be in the end, more productive tomorrow. Just the reason for also enjoying now and today. So I think there is really an industry around those ideas somehow. And I can also understand that people’s, you know, long-term goals that are important to them and they are, you know, I don’t want to argue against that, and they are a source of our wellbeing, but in the end, why is it not okay for us? And I think that’s a, that’s a general question that all our research is putting why is it not okay to just really do something for today and really, because it’s good for my well-being and the here and now, and maybe yet it doesn’t do anything to my longterm goals for me, um, should be, should be fine now, right?

Dr. Cooper: (27:53)

Yeah, no you’re giving you’re, you’re creating so many thoughts in my head. Let’s, let’s pick something you, you decided to do your first 5k race and you really want to, your friends doing it. So there is some pleasure, the first few weeks is not pleasurable necessarily. Cause you gotta get used to it, but, but you’re into it and you’re doing it and you have a hard day at work and yeah, the, the, I don’t know, there’s like the, the long-term is there, is there such thing as a long-term hedonic, like it’s something that’s really fun and important to me doing this first 5k versus I just want to eat a donut. I don’t know. Is, is there, or is hedonic always the shorter term in the moment right now?

Dr. Bernecker: (28:36)

Yeah, I think it’s really a question of definition, but in the end I would say that there can, of course be a blend of motivations for things that you are doing. And maybe that’s the, you know, the integration also that we were talking about earlier. I mean probably there are things and if you find those things, that’s super good that in the end, it’s good for you now, you know, you enjoy it, but in the end is also conducive to your health in the long-term to other goals that you have. I’m just saying that, you know, I, I don’t think that, there might be activities where the essence is really only the here and now. And for me, I wonder whether this is maybe just okay, if that’s the case or whether we have to really in every moment of our lives project, how this turns out at some point for us, or whether by doing that, maybe we are also missing out on some important things that are happening in the here and now. And I think that’s maybe the question mark that I have with using these activities. I think there’s nothing better, you know, don’t get me wrong. I really think it’s, that’s probably great if you can integrate it, but then also if you don’t and you find something that’s just pleasurable in the moment, I would say well go for it once in a while, you know.

Dr. Cooper: (29:55)

Okay. Okay, good. This is so much fun. This is great. Thank you for doing this. Um, let’s talk about you. How are you using what you’re learning as a researcher on your own life, in what you’re pursuing in, what you’re reflecting on and those kinds of things.

Dr. Bernecker: (30:09)

Yeah. So yeah, I can tell you that since, you know, the two years we are studying that there’s a lot of self-reflection going on. You know, the goal is I said the, the activities that are actually enjoyable to me, so what’s the set up that really, um, lets me enjoy the moment or when are these intrusive thoughts coming? So for me, it’s really super fun because it’s kind of a personal development at the same time, it’s really also professional development. So I can really come up with hypothesis about my, you know, for my research and create a study and run that study and see, you know, whether I had a good intuition. So for me, it’s really, really both. So at the moment this hedonic project is really, um, also, you know, as something that I’m working on. So finding, you know, finding the pleasure in the moment is, is the, the task or the topic.

Dr. Cooper: (31:05)

Well, and you’re a great case study because you finished your PhD, are you and your postdoc now?

Dr. Bernecker: (31:10)


Dr. Cooper: (31:11)

Okay. So you’re in post doc, so there’s a lot of pressure. There are a lot of time constraints that you were working a lot of hours, you have very specific laid out as the long-term goals. So have you seen your perspective change in the way you’re approaching some of those things upon reflection or what’s that journey been like the last couple of years in studying it and reflecting on it?

Dr. Bernecker: (31:32)

Yeah, no. So really for me, it’s, it’s really somehow seeing that I might have not thought about what is fun to me in the moment and maybe having put too much value in what’s good for me in the future. I think that was really an eye opener where I thought, wow, I think I really have to change something because you know, I’m not for sure I have these goals, you know, um, pursuing a career, becoming a professor, you know, I mean, um, for sure, but in the end it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be that everything else has to step aside for the next, you know, couple of years to achieve those goals. And, and I don’t know about you when you finished your PhD, but I remember that that moment also when I thought, you know, I was of course super proud and it was a nice moment, but I also felt a bit sad. And I think that was because you feel how much you have given and how much maybe, you know, how often you have not visited your family, how many birthdays you have missed, how many hikes you could have in the mountains. And I really I’ve, some of it, I have also felt that they have given a lot for this goal. And I think that’s something that I don’t want to feel when the next accomplishment is there. I don’t want to feel that I have given too much on the other side. I think I want to feel that it was somehow a good, a good balance.

Dr. Cooper: (33:05)

Love that. That’s excellent. All right. So people will be mad if I didn’t ask about this, you had an opportunity to experience working with Carol Dweck as your advisor. Um, many, I would say a huge chunk of our, our listeners have read her books and know her research. What was it like working with her? What’d you learn from her during that time that we wouldn’t learn just reading her books, reading her research?

Dr. Bernecker: (33:29)

No, I mean, it was super fantastic experience. I mean, I can tell you she’s, uh, she’s such, um, super smart and like out of the box thinker and at the same time, such a, you know, humble and generous personality, I mean, and that combination just makes her, I would say the best advisor that you can hope for as a student. I mean, really she puts wings on you and tells you how to use them and you know puts the wind. So it’s really a supportive environment that, that it’s, it’s just great to work with her. So that’s one thing and, and further I, yeah, I learned basically how to apply the theory in, in real life. You know, she’s really what she’s telling you in those books. I mean, she’s living that, you know, in the sense that I was getting there being super unexperienced student, I mean, my English was basically non-existent and she was sitting down with me in the office saying it’s all, okay. So what do you want to work on? You know, so what can we do together? And I was like, I just wanted you know to have a lab job, you know, something, I was not expecting it, but she was taking me so serious, like as a colleague that some of my, my ideas, my thoughts were, you know, just taking seriously. And she was saying, Oh, so what’s your ideas? What kind of study do we want to run? And that’s just fascinating, you know, she’s not just telling that there there’s this potential with people and you can become whatever you want to become, basically, because you can change. She’s really showing you and, and supporting you in that process of changing. And yeah. So it’s really fascinating to see how you can, if you have this incremental mindset, how to put it to work, you know, and that means seeing in your student a potential and helping them through that change. And I think that’s what she did with me. And it was really fascinating.

Dr. Cooper: (35:29)

That is so fun. It’s fun to pull that, pull that curtain back a little bit. All right. Last question, actually, before I ask the last question, have I missed anything? Is there some stuff that you’re like, Oh, Brad, if you would’ve asked this, I could have gone into this path in anything that’s, that’s really key to your research that I haven’t drawn out yet.

Dr. Bernecker: (35:48)

Yeah. So I think I enjoyed the questions. So I think they were great. I think something that I might find important to mention is really, you know, I don’t want to be, uh, sometimes I fear a bit that we, uh, there might be misconceptions about what you study. So in the sense that we are saying, you know, go all home, relax on the solfa eat potato chips as much as possible. No, that’s not what we are claiming. I think we are really talking about, first of all, the balance of things. I mean Daniella and me, we were, we are both self-controlled researchers, you know, we were trained in that literature. And I think we are not saying that long-term goals are not important. We are not saying that everyone should do only, you know, hedonism all day long, it’s really finding a good balance. So I think we really just want to say, Hey, this is also important. And I think there’s a need to study that. I think that’s really what we are claiming is, Hey, why don’t we study hedonic goals? Because they are important because for wellbeing, for health, maybe we want, we will see that. But yeah, really just not to forget about them in a sense.

Dr. Cooper: (36:54)

Beautiful. Well, so last question, and I don’t know if you’re on Twitter or not, but we’ll just use that as our baseline, Twitter allows 140 characters, you know, two, three sentences. If you had an opportunity to tweet out your most important life wisdom, and you don’t have to stay with your research here, but you’re welcome to, uh, in that kind of a brief format. So you don’t get three paragraphs here. What would you say?

Dr. Bernecker: (37:15)

So I would say life is now. So really it’s important to make some room for things that make you happy in the present. And I think the challenge is to find the right balance between happiness now and happiness later.

Dr. Cooper: (37:31)

Beautiful. That’s one of my wife’s favorite things is to remind me, Brad life is now like, it’s not five years from now. So you and she will have to chat at some point.

Dr. Bernecker: (37:39)

It is so much true, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know, what’s five years, that’s a long time, right? So,

Dr. Cooper: (37:46)

And yet we tend to live there instead of now.

Dr. Bernecker: (37:50)

So that’s what I feel that that’s what I feel. And I think that’s something that we should change maybe a bit.

Dr. Cooper: (37:56)

So great to have you on. Thank you so much. Again, love the background there, but great stuff. Let’s stay in touch. What’s the best way for people to follow you, to keep track of what you’re doing? Cause it sounds like you have some really exciting things coming out. Are you on Twitter? Do you have a website you’d like to nudge us towards, what’s best?

Dr. Bernecker: (38:13)

Now Twitter, definitely. So I started Twittering, you know, not so long ago. So I’m always happy about followers and post research there because we have an Institute website that’s a bit boring. So I don’t want to drag people there.

Dr. Cooper: (38:27)

Thank you so much. This was awesome.

Dr. Bernecker: (38:29)

Yes, it was really enjoyable. So really thanks for the invitation was great to talk to you and great questions.

Dr. Cooper: (38:36)

Absolutely. Take care. Wasn’t that fun. Thank you again to Dr. Katharina Bernecker for time and insights. Next week’s guest is Gregg Levoy. He’s going to talk about finding your calling the idea of wondering, wandering some of the things we’ve talked about over on the YouTube coaching channel lately. And you’re going to love this one. We really get into some cool stuff. Speaking of the YouTube coaching channel, I’ve got a favor to ask. I would really appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes just to go over and check it out if you haven’t already, I’ve been pouring a lot of my time and energy into this over the past six months. And we’ve got a library of about a hundred free videos on health, wellness, performance, and coaching. And again, I’m asking for a favor, huge encouragement. If you just take a peak and subscribe, if it’s helpful, if it’s helpful, if it’s not your thing, totally fine. Love having you here. And again, it is all free. All right, are you ready for better than yesterday? It starts right now. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, make it a great rest of your week. And I’ll speak with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health Wellness and Performance Coaching podcast, or maybe over on the YouTube coaching channel.