“The reason some people find it difficult to change is because most people don’t change much. We live routined, patterned lives. Moments differ and things come up but essentially our days are defined by sameness. We stopped growing and learning long ago.
We aren’t handling difficult jungle survival challenges we are going to work or school, doing the same things, our routines, then coming home, dining, relaxing in the same manner and repeating the next day. We are known by our habits and our routines. People can find us and count on us because we do the same stuff over and over.
Researchers estimate that we think an excess of 60,000 thoughts a day and most of those are the same thoughts we thought the day before. AND the day before that and… This suggests that we aren’t stimulating our brains to think new thoughts and do new things. We aren’t giving it unique problems to solve.
We are patterned and routined by design so life is easier. Just as the creases in a folded piece of paper make it easier to refold in the same way our patterns are habits serve us. These are well worn neural pathways that we repeat because it is the path of least resistance.
Whatever the reason for their development we will engage in reliable healthy behaviors or reliable unhealthy negative behaviors. We do whatever we have learned to do. The brain is designed this way so we don’t have to relearn to do mundane things over again. We don’t need to learn how to open a door each time we encounter one.
Since most of us haven’t been encouraged to learn to have many new habits as we grow up we get comfortable and familiar in our routine and stay there. That can become a rut. We don’t venture out, we limit our options, we make fewer choices, we may even get so comfortable we fear doing things we wouldn’t have at one time.
We might want to change but as a result of living in the comfort zone for so long we aren’t sure how. We have been one way for so long doing something different seems hard. It is and it isn’t that hard. We have to get used to doing something new and that might be tough because we can’t sit back and coast as we have been doing.
It becomes easier to change when we add in novelty and engage in different healthy behaviors than those we are used to. If we make doing new things a reliable useful positive habit we will fear change less and find it gets easier as we go along. It is only difficult because we become rusted. It doesn’t have to be.
As we become used to mixing things up adding in positive new behaviors it gets easier overall. It won’t be so difficult because you will have made positive changing a reliable habit. You become more flexible. Novelty is anything new and different to us. Add spice to life and become accustomed to adding positive changes and you will change more readily as necessary.
We want to develop new, positive, healthy habits. I have described some things you can do in previous blogs. More great practices for your brain health include taking up piano or keyboards, violin, and guitar playing, sleight of hand or needle point. Any practice that utilizes refined finger movements is a great exercise for the brain.
Finger exercises such as touching each finger tip to the thumb quickly and repeatedly, back and forth is useful. These are important. Writing with pen and paper and not on a computer stimulates the brain. As we learn anything new it helps keep the brain young and resilient. We age faster because we stop learning.
‘Brain Gym’ or ‘cross crawling’, is wonderful too. Contra-lateral movements are ones in which you make contact with the opposite side of the body with the opposite hand. For example, touch left knee with right hand and right knee with left hand. You can read about it on the internet. Yoga is great for this.
The goal is to not be afraid of changing but to welcome change and to a dd novelty into our lives so we become accustomed to doing things differently. Our brains crave novelty while at the same time run on doing the same things we have learned to do reliably.
We have learned many incredibly useful things and live well as a result. We have also learned many useless things, or things that were important for a time in our life which now no longer have a beneficial use. It is time to update and learn new wonderful habits.
We want to be the master of our habits and not have our habits master of us. Our subconscious is reliable and we need to learn how to steer it so we can be, do and get get what we want. Make change enjoyable and fun and you will change faster and easier.” Rex Sikes
More next time.
Today, become more curious. As a child would be.
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