This is Jim (white beard) from Pointe-Claire, Montreal. He’s just been handed a ticket for good behaviour by Mayor Morris Trudeau (white shirt, former cop, no relation to Justin) in a pioneering project we’re studying as part of our Smart Cities research at Fluxx.
Since May 2015, over 1,000 citizens have been given tickets for good behaviour like “using roads in a safe and respectful manner, stopping at red lights and stop signs, obeying signals, waiting for the crossing lights at busy intersections and neither texting nor talking on a cellphone while driving.”
Citizens are a little confused: “I saw the flashing lights of the police car but I had no idea what was going on,” Scott told the Montreal Gazette. “I wondered why they were approaching me.” The ticket he received has a thumbs up logo, and no monetary or prize value.
This kind of positive reinforcement can seem strange in the context of police enforcement, but is rooted in the most basic behavioural psychology, and is increasingly being used by cities around the world to deal with a range of issues.
Milan: The insurer paying drivers to leave their cars at home
Milan has the worst traffic in Europe and North America. Drivers there spend 57 hours a year in jams. (INRIX data, reported here in the Daily Mail).
To counter this and following a similar approach to Montreal campaign the second largest insurance company in Italy Unipol came up with an interesting solution to the city’s problems. By giving the residents of Milan free public transit vouchers in return for leaving their cars at home.
“The city is using connected car devices made by Octo Telematics, a Rome-based telematics provider, installed behind the dashboards of Unipol customers’ vehicles, to transmit location data and ensure that cars remain parked on the driveway.” (FT).
This is the little box of traffic magic from Octo, called Unibox
Unipol policyholders receive a credit of €1,50 — the cost of one public transportation ticket — for every day their vehicles remain parked during peak hours.
In a lovely connected cities detail, participants can collect their tickets at any ATM ticket machine, in Milan.
Breda, Netherlands: The city rewarding drivers for staying at home
Dealing with traffic issues of their own, the Dutch city of Breda in 2012 launched the initiative ‘Positive Drive’. Instead of an expensive telematics box that needs to be installed in the car, they used a simple smartphone ap.
The Positive Drive app uses nudges (coaching, prizes, social status, achievements, etc) to strengthen the positive behaviours.
“Positive Drive rewards car drivers who respect speed limits with (s)miles. If they cycle instead of driving, they earn more (s)miles. Bonus (s)miles are rewarded when road users choose certain trajectories over others. In this way, the municipality can promote particular cycle routes and locations, and with their ‘smiles’ the participants can win prizes donated by enterprises based Breda” (Eltis).
Dubai: White Points to reduce deaths in traffic
Back in 2013 the city of Dubai together with its police department launched a project called the ‘White Point’ system. Where participants can earn points by following traffic laws and avoid getting fines and tickets.
It was launched by Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, head of the Federal Traffic Council and assistant to the Dubai Police chief in operational affairs as an experiment that hopefully could help reducing the amount of deaths in traffic, but also encourage positive driving.
“We started in 2013 by honouring 700 motorists, and now in 2016 we’ll be honouring more than double that amount. The system is still being developed, and we believe the more we reward people for good behaviour, the more positive the effect will be.” Maj Gen Al Zafeen (The National)
The participants can then earn a maximum of 24 points in one year. In case of a traffic violation, motorists can lose a month’s points and if involved in a huge violation, may lose their accumulated white points. These violations also include traffic fines such as ‘Salik’ (tolls) and parking fines. The system also allows drivers to recover points lost on their licences by driving without any infringement over a period of time.
Today I learnt to make a Christmas calendar. It was so much fun, and the hours flew away. I started at 11.00 a clock and finished at 20.00, and the hard work was worth it. To find an activity that makes you forget time, is important. We all need to wind down, and making things is my guilty pleasure. What is yours ?
It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Mostly because I’ve been busy in my new job and with suddenly having a new family to adjust into.
When I started working clinically with adults again, it felt like coming home. The only worry was that I just had a contract for one year, so I was nervous about if I would get a permanent job. I really love it here, there a so many experienced therapists and in addition to that, many group therapies for different diagnoses. When I started, I was asked if I wanted to try to be a group therapist myself, something I was really excited about. This fall, I got the chance to be a therapist together with two other colleagues, and I have already learnt so much. The group is for patients with PTSD, and we work after a manual that focus on stabilization and education about trauma. To see how healing it is for traumatized individuals to meet others who struggle with the same symptoms as they do, has been a revelation. Logically, I know how good it must feel to meet others in the same situation as yourself, but seeing it with my own eyes is uplifting. I can almost see the light in the group members eyes when they emotionally feel that their reactions might be normal based on what they’ve been through.
In August, I had another interview with my leader, after I applied for a permanent job here. On my birthday, my leader came into my office and delivered the good news: I got the job! So now I know I can be here as long as I want, and it feels amazing. My leader told me that they wanted to transfer me to working with psychosis, something I haven’t done much in the past. But I look forward to it. I have met people with schizophrenia before, and those I’ve talked with are often fascinating people with many resources. I also have a soft spot for them since my grandfather had schizophrenia, and he was one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met.
It will be a bit sad to say goodbye to the patients I’ve having now, but I’m ready for new tasks and new challenges. I’ve always liked to learn more, and this is a chance to work with the system around the patients, and working in a team with experienced therapists who love what they do.
So, even if it’s always scary to start with something new, I am ready to grow and learn.
I have been in Japan for almost two weeks, and already wish I could back again. It is a land of beauty, serenity and traditions. I wanted to go here already as a child. I watched manga-cartoons, fell in love with geishas, samurais and the esthetic houses, and found my favorite author there. The people here look really beautiful, and they are so diverse. The wear anything they fancy, which is liberating. I`ve seen close-knit families playing with their children, and experienced their kindness. There is so much more I could write, but a pictures says more than a thousand words, so here are some of the pics I`ve taken so far.
Saturday I am going to Japan! My little brother is coming with me, and we have both waited for this trip so long. He was just 8 when I promised him that when I became a psychologist and had money for it, we would go there. He kept reminding me of my promise every year, and now we`re finally here. That means my head is buzzing. I can`t say if its butterflies flying around in my head or a fanfare longing for my attention, I just know that I wish the butterflies or fanfares would quiet down a bit. When I am in this hyper state I also start thinking about everything else. Work is going very well at the moment, but today I had to apply for staying where I am now, for longer (hopefully forever, since I love the place already) and that set off a cascade of thoughts. I also got some new patients this week, and I just keep going through what some of them said, turning me into the investigator, searching for clues on what might help them. I don`t worry too much about staying up a bit longer than usual, though: Tomorrow is my last day at work before I start on my two-week holiday. These are exciting times, and sometimes I`m allowed to just bask in the glory of it.
If any of you has been to Japan, I would love some tips or recommendations.
I’ve just watched ‘to the bone’. It’s a movie about eating disorders, and I really liked it. It was a realistic depiction of what it’s like to struggle with anorexia, and although some parts were hard to watch, it was not harder than what it must be like for those who live with the disorder everyday. The movie shows that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb up again, and I think that rings true for many who seek help with their issues. ‘Ellie’ could not control her condition and came close to death. In other words, the movie was extreme. Many are able to change before they get that deep into water, but there are many ways to die. When we don’t live the life we long for, that’s death too. It’s losing minutes, days, years of our lives.
When anxiety keeps you in the house, when you stop trying, when you withdraw from the world, you starve your soul. Many of my patients live with this every day. They don’t feed themselves with love and compassion. They even blame themselves for not doing what they want, not seeing how hard it is.
Sometimes I think anxiety underlies most of the problems one can have. It drowns courage, it suffocated us. It deprives us of joy, and it covers up our real selves. It’s the opposite of moving towards something, it stifles us. But fear is not dangerous. It can’t really harm us if we remember that it will pass. We must remember how great it is to conquer fear. When you’ve hit rock bottom and climb up again, the view is even more spectacular.
So are you ready to look into your mirror? Look fear in the eye, truly face it? You are stronger than you think, and when you look beyond fear, there is beauty and life.
Sometimes you meet people in the most unexpected ways, and I’ve found that the internet makes it even more likely to happen. I don’t know why, but opening up to others can at times be easier than talking to your friends. Don’t misunderstand, I have so many good friends, but with Marie I can completely be myself and say whatever I think.
This post, Marie, is for you.
When I first stumbled upon your blog, I immediately felt that I had to read on. I read a truly honest post, and was so impressed. I often password-protect my posts, but you left your story there, ready for everyone to see. Opening up like that takes courage, and I felt the need to know more about you. We started chatting, and my gut feeling was not wrong. Your thoughts resonated with mine. I found somebody who got me, who believed in the magic of the universe, who follows her heart no matter what the circumstances is. My head got cleared, like a cloud vanishing from the sun. It you can follow your dream, so can I. And what made me even happier was the thought of you sharing so much of your thoughts and feelings with others, maybe touching others like you touched me.
I also like your writing. It is so honest and brilliant. There is no doubt that you see through things, lift the veil from confusion and find your way. You wrote a post about religion, and wondered if Buddhism could contribute to your life. You’re a searcher. On a quest, and there is nothing more inspiring than people who try to find their own way. For many it is a struggle to navigate in endless choices and tasks. There is always something to worry about. But you find your way. Even if life has been hard sometimes. You get up there and fight.
I want to share your blog. I want others to read your thoughts and be inspired. You have become a true friend, in such a short time. And even if we never meet, I will never forget you.
You find her blog at http://makeupmarie.com
Some weeks ago, I read a wondeful book by Kathrine Aspaas. I dived into her book, and absolutely loved it. When we read the news, it`s easy to feel overwhelmed. There is so much pain, tragedy and suffering. But there is also hope. So many possibilities. She describes how our vulnerabilities are what makes us strong. If you have ever felt ashamed or like you have to hide, this book will lift your spirits. It might even free you.
I am including a ted-talk where she talks about the age of generosity. Maybe she will inspire you too?
I have been in my new job as a clinical psychologist for one month now, so it’s time for a update. I still can’t believe how fast the time has gone, it feels like the day is over before it even began. This is good, since it means that I am engaged. There is seldom a dull moment, and at the end of the day I look back and realize I have learnt something new. Already I have touching moments that I will carry with me until I take my last breath.
I have met many interesting people with a plethora of problems. Some with depressions, one with panic attacks, several with traumatized childhoods and also people with anger issues, AD/HD and personality disorders. Since I still see new patients, I haven’t had many conversations with anyone yet, and for many we are still getting to know each other. Finding the correct diagnosis is important, and we can’t move on before we have pinpointed what needs to be looked at more closely.
But even if we haven’t started on direct treatment yet, this first phase is hopefully already a step in the right direction. Although it’s necessary to go through some surveys and standardized questions, there is room for therapeutic work.
The first phase of therapy is often about stabilizion and education. By getting to know oneself better, the path for change is created. For traumatized victims, learning about how trauma effects the body, is crucial. For people with panic attacks, knowing the symptoms and normalizing them, helps a lot. If you understand what happens, it’s easier to start coping with it. In some ways, fear of symptoms is what many struggle with the most. When we face or monsters in a controlled way, we can finally watch them from afar and act like we want to.
Elizabeth Gilbert described in her book ‘big magic’ how she looked at fear: Fear is always with her, telling her that she should be careful. Prodding her to not take chances, because she might get hurt. She has learnt to thank her fear, because it wants to protect her. At the same time she also tells her fear that it can be there and monitor her surroundings if it wants to, but she must take command. She soothes herself by accepting that she will feel terrified and unsafe, at the same time as she assures herself that she can cope with what comes.
Many of my patients are still afraid. And that’s okay. We all are, often. I will not promise a rose-garden, but I want to explore the area they walk in no matter what is there.