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Why Did I Just Do That? The Real Science Behind Our Choices.

It is human nature to want to understand (and define) why people do the things they do. If we see something on the news or hear a story that disagrees with our own morals and values, we ask ‘why’ or ‘how’ someone could act in a way so contrary to our own standards. In a hotly debated political climate such as what we have seen in 2017, it is easy to see a firm divide between what different groups of people consider ‘wrong’ and ‘right’. But how do we come to subscribe to these strong convictions? Why do we feel so strongly about the things that we do? And how is it that so many people may value or prioritize beliefs that are so contrary to our own? Part of the psychological makeup that creates these unique attributes is our DiSC profile. That is, whether our primary behavioral style is dominant, influential, steady, or compliant. This study can help us understand the basic underlying drivers of our personality, such as why we prioritize action over details, or prefer quiet over social engagements. Understanding our prominent DiSC style can help paint the picture of our inner workings, and teach us not only how to improve ourselves but also our relationship with those around us. But our primary behavioral traits are only the beginning of the story. For example, both Mother Theresa and Princess Diana were high ’S’, which would explain their reputation for compassion and warmth. However- though they shared this behavioral profile, the two were vastly different. In fact- both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rank as very high ‘D’s, though clearly they have starkly different opinions and views. Once we have been introduced to the 4 general behavioral styles, we must then understand the attitude filters in which we funnel these traits (motivators and behaviors). Though many of us identify with our predominant behavioral traits- the way we interpret those traits and manifest them are based on our personal motivators. Motivators are the values and beliefs that we have formed throughout our lifetime that influence our actions and the general way we respond to conflict and activities in our lives. These attributes are generally formed through our childhood and early adulthood, and often stick with us throughout our lives. These motivators form a general set of beliefs that drive our behaviors- which is how we respond to the things that happen around us. Motivators are formed throughout our life by the way our brain responds to stimuli. For example, lets explore someone who, like Mother Theresa, is highly social- which means that they heavily prioritize the elimination of pain and suffering of others. While Mother Theresa was predisposed to being loyal and people-focused, her motivators would have escalated that focus to a passion for serving those in need. Our motivators are formed when we witness/experience something in life, interpret the event as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, and form a belief based on that experience. For the Mother Theresa example, let’s explore how her beliefs may have been formed. Mother Theresa’s mother was said to be very charitable, and opened her home to countless poor and destitute individuals throughout her childhood. She would council her daughter to “never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.” Mother Theresa was extremely close to her widowed mother, and she was a great influence in her life. So it is easy to understand that her commitment to charity and serving the poor was formed through this belief passed down from her mother, who instilled in her a deep commitment to charity. The action (giving to the poor/feeding the poor) formed a belief (that is good and just to give to those in need) which eventually led to her strong motivational desire to help as many in need as she could. Of course, being high social (focused on helping others) is only one of the 6 basic motivators that influence our behavior. Here is a quick overview of each motivator: Theoretical: prioritizes knowledge and the truth. These individuals (researchers, doctors, professors, mathematicians) care about the pursuit of knowledge, and lead with information. They strive to find factual answers and use this information to make decisions. Utilitarians: focuses on utility, such as the accumulation or saving of money. These individuals (financial planners, economists, business owners, sales) care about creating and saving these resources and structure their personal and professionals lives around this. Aesthetic: these individuals care about beauty, harmony, peace and balance. These individuals (artists, physical trainers, hairstylists, photographers) care about creating and preserving beauty, creative expression, and understanding themselves and others. Social: strives to help those in need, and prioritizes these causes. These individuals (teachers, coaches, firemen, police officers) put others first and choose people over profits. Individualistic: these individuals focus on achieving status and position. They (leaders, professional athletes, military officers, venture capitalists) strive to be decision makers, be in charge, and have others report to them. Traditional: focused on living according to a strictly followed set of rules and values. These individuals (pastors, wedding planners, funeral directors, law enforcement) strive to find meaning in life and live their life for that meaning. Understanding these integral behavioral traits and motivators can not only help us better understand ourselves, but how and why those around us tend to have such varied priorities and beliefs. We are all compelled by our unique individual makeup, which is both ingrained and developed throughout our lifetimes. Comprehending how these influence our daily lives and action can be one of our greatest assets in gaining successful insight into who we are, and why we do the things we do.

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