Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Change Your Habits, Change Your Brain

I don't think I'm generalizing when I say we all fall into routines.  Be they good or bad, routines eek their way into our everyday lives.  Sometimes it's at our workplace, where we find ourselves "going through the motions," or it's after work, when we shuffle through the door, drop our keys on the mat, open the fridge to eat something (regardless of hunger) and change into comfier clothes.

Our habitual way of doing things is, as I mentioned, something we should judge as neither good nor bad.  Sometimes habits are necessary, like always avoiding a particular street because of its notoriety for pickpockets or wearing dress clothes to church every Sunday.  Sometimes, though, are unnecessary.  Rather, they offer a sense of comfort, like eating dinner seated in front of a laptop while MasterChef plays.

I am definitely not referring to myself...

The point is, whether necessary or unnecessary, anything done the same way over and over again gives the brain very little stimulus.  Our brains, after all, crave variety and challenge, whether we like to acknowledge it or not!  Doing something differently, even a little differently, has profound effects on the wiring of our brain.  It causes the brain to work differently; to change.  Even something as little as sleeping on the other side of the bed or changing out of work clothes before beginning dinner (again, not using myself as an example), will cause one's brain to go Oh, hey, what's going on?  I'm not used to this!

...and that's good!

We want to flex our cranial muscle.  So doing can not only help prevent diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, it can also increase our mood!  By breaking away from our routine ways of doing things, like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the peanut butter consistently on top, we can experience greater happiness and excitement in our lives because we open the door of possibility!  If we were to eat that PB&J with the jelly side up, a little spark in of excitement in our brain would go off at the notion of doing that same routine differently.  And just imagine, if something as simple as eating a sandwich differently can do that, imagine what even bigger, sustained changes can do, for your whole, mind-body self.

I invite you all to choose ONE of your daily routines and modify some aspect of it.  Post your results below.  I look forward to reading them!  Also, if you have a few more minutes to set aside after reading this post, you might enjoy this video as well!

Love, light and happiness,