Monday, July 2, 2012
Habits – that nemesis of good intentions. Just what are Habits anyway? There is a school of thought that calls Habits “shortcuts for the brain”. I call Habits “automatic pilot settings”.
True, some Habits are instinctual, such as breathing, but most Habits are something we develop along the maturation process.
How does a Habit come to be? As one begins to learn something new, i.e. driving a car, a musical instrument, a sport, neuro-pathways are developed. The longer one continues the same activity the more those neuro-pathways are travelled, until they become and old “familiar” routes for the brain – at which time they cease to command your full attention and subside into the recesses of the brain. Think about learning to drive, for example. At first there are SO many things to remember….check the mirrors, turn this on, turn that off, look over your shoulder, look left/right, put the car in gear, press the accelerator, etc. etc. After a bit of driving all of that becomes “second nature”, and one just gets in the car and starts driving…often times multi-tasking along the way.
Often a Habit will begin for a legitimate reason but will continue long after the reason has ceased to be.
The oldest school of thought spoke about “breaking habits”. Newer forms of thought realize that a Habit cannot, in fact, be “broken” but must be replaced by a “newer” Habit. So how is this done? Simple… you just “do it”.
Once a Habit has been identified as something that is no longer valid or valued in your life, decide what it is that you do want to have in its place. Then, realizing it will take some “conscious thought” a first, just begin doing what it is you “do” want and give not another bit of thought or energy to what you “do not” want. As simplistic as this sounds, this is truly the only way to reprogram those automatic synapses of your brain.