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Actions like walking and driving were incredibly
complex and difficult for you to learn initially, but
soon you don’t even need to think about it.
Have you ever arrived in a room in your house with
no memory of what you came to get?
After your brain told you to go get something, it knows
routine for you in your own house, so your mind started
thinking of other things…
This is the essence of habits - once you start on a
familiar series of actions, you stop
thinking about them, and you are
able to complete them without
conscious thought or
Our brain has billions of neurons that receive
input from our sensory organs. The brain sets up
pathways of these chemical impulses to help
process and interpret
the massive amounts
of information we
receive from the
world around us.
• The more often the thought develops or the action
is done, the more connections and
pathways that develop, so we can
do things automatically without
really having to think about it.
Every time you repeat the habit the connection
becomes stronger within the brain, so that it
becomes second nature.
This is how we develop habits –
both good and bad.
This involves two parts of the midbrain - the amygdala and the
The amygdala controls the “fight or flight” response. This part of
the brain takes over when we sense that we are in danger.
(to survive the dangers of living in the wild,
this built-in ability to sound a danger
alarm every time you encounter
something “different” was pretty handy!)
To the amygdala, anything that seems out of the norm is
considered a danger!!!! So, to start exercising when you
haven’t worked out in 5 years is out of the norm…
Next thing you know, you are too tired to get out of bed
to exercise. You planned to the night before, but you
are just so inexplicably TIRED. Or, for some unknown
reason, your left knee is killing you.
Or, wouldn’t you know it, you
woke up with a sinus headache…
This is your amygdala in action.
It is doing EXACTLY
what it was designed to doto react to danger and stick with what seems normal…
The trick is to take very small, seemingly
insignificant steps towards the goal. If these steps
are small enough, the amygdala will not take over.
Taking consistently small steps toward a larger goal,
allows habits to form almost effortlessly and in less
time than you might expect.
Since the steps are small, the amygdala does not
sense danger. Therefore, it allows you to continue
taking the small steps. If the steps are repeated
consistently, the hippocampus will retain the
information, and a habit will form.