“A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to became automatic”, according to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Our minds go through a trial and error process to determine which actions will become habits. This is similar to a rat in a maze seeking a reward . The first pass through the maze, the rat makes a decision at every turn. After running through the maze enough times, the rat doesn’t need to make the decision because the process becomes automatic.
During the decision making process the neurological activity in the brain is high. Your brain is analyzing the situation and trying to make the best decision possible. This is the learning process.
As you are learning, your brain will discover a solution. This solution will lead to a reward of some degree. Your brain will link that decision to the action most recently performed. This is the feedback loop behind all human behavior. Over time these decisions get reinforced, thus forming habits.
“Habit formation is incredibly useful because the conscious mind is the bottleneck of the brain.” Habits are tasks we are able to perform without conscious thought. Therefore, we are able to use our available conscious mind to problem solve new tasks at hand.
This becomes very helpful when trying to form healthy habits. If you are constantly asking yourself, when should I work out or what foods to eat, then your brain has to make a conscious decision. This can become tiresome and quickly overload our brains. Thus we become mentally exhausted and revert back to the things we were doing and eating beforehand.
Establishing healthy habits allows our brains to focus on new challenges while our bodies follow the roadmap already drawn up. We will discuss in the future how to start forming healthy habits.
Dr Spencer Charlet
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