SUMMARY: When we become consistent with our daily habits, it builds and strengthens neural pathways in the brain. When neural pathways are reinforced our brain begins to become more efficient at these things. They become attainable and a normal part of your life.
Do you want to change some aspect of your life, and know you need new habits to do so?
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make incremental changes over time to produce the largest impact.
JOURNAL PROMPT: Write down at least one habit you want to develop (meditation, journaling, healthy eating, exercise, reading, etc.) Journal about (1) how you are going to incorporate this habit into your life, (2) why the change matters to you (especially what it will cost you if you don’t make the change)
“Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
We all know that habits, good and bad, make up our lives. They can shape us in positive and negative ways. Once we begin to foster good habits, the brain’s neural pathways created for those habits begin to strengthen. The orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for building and executing habits, and the above tips and journal prompts help train the brain to support your new habits.
Bonus Tip: Focus on just one small change, do it consistently for 2 weeks (every day) and watch what happens. Consistency is what makes it all work.
Our bodies are designed to be as energy efficient as possible, and our brains are no different. When we do something more often, good or bad, our brain gets more efficient at repeating that thing. The neural pathways get hardwired in the brain so that it essentially goes on autopilot when we are confronted with performing that habit.
One study done by the University of California found that the neurochemicals that are responsible for habits are endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are responsible for quieting the orbitofrontal cortex. When this area of the brain is downregulated, it was shown that habits begin to take over.
This information is great to learn but it will not help you unless you start implementing positive habits in the first place! It can be hard to start forming healthy habits as opposed to how easy it is to slip into unhealthy ones.
We recommend starting small. For example, if you want to start making meditation a habit of yours, choose a small amount of time, even if it is only one minute of focused breathing. If you consistently take just one minute – 60 seconds – to sit quietly and breathe deeply your brain will eventually revert to autopilot and meditating will become an integral part of your life.
Our society often relies on motivation from outside sources to begin making healthy choices. But it’s been shown that slow habit-building over time, through small changes is much more effective than relying on external motivation.
Motivation is important and often get us started towards making healthy shifts. However, motivation often comes in waves. It’s important to capitalize when you get a strike of motivation. Start taking small steps towards your goals and you will achieve them.
Impress yourself with the things you can accomplish by only taking small, incremental steps each day towards adopting positive, healthy habits. Your life will transform without you even noticing, because your brain will be so focused on reinforcing the new habit!
Don & Sean (and the whole PurePower team)