Habits and Neuroplasticity

Summary: “Every time you use your brain, you have the potential to change it and create better life outcomes.”

Every time a thought travels along a neural pathway in your brain and lights up a neural circuit, it strengthens that pathway and circuit and makes it more likely that the circuit will activate again in the future.

At the same time, any old pathway related to similar environmental or thought-triggering circumstances diminishes in strength and is less likely to activate in the future. This is how the process of neuroplasticity works. Every time you use your brain, you change how it processes incoming information and either strengthen or diminish certain neural circuits and your behavior associated with the circuits.

Thoughts are the ancestors of all actions (in other words, thoughts produce your behavior). And neuroplasticity is the process that allows you to change any undesired behavior.

Brain changes take time. So think in terms of sticking with any new habit you want to form for some pre-designated period of time. For example, make your goal to hang in there for at least one day, then another, then another.

If you slip up after a few days, don’t abandon your resolve to form the new habit, simply reset your count and try again. Make it a game to go for as many days as possible without a reset. If you make it three days the first try, reset and see if you can make it at least four or five days on the next try. Keep it up until you can string together about 21 to 60 days worth of new behavior. If you eventually make it this long, the new stronger neural circuits supporting the new desired behavior will most likely override the older circuits supporting the old behavior.

This is how you form new habits.

We’ll get more into the science and practical aspects of neuroplasticity in future postings. For now, consider reading As a Man Thinketh (or the same book with different pronouns – As a Woman Thinketh) by James Allen to develop a good philosophical understand of the power of our thoughts. It’s a short but extremely powerful book than can help you joyfully participate in life.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

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