Our entire days are consumed by habits.
We may not even be aware of it because it becomes so natural for us to just go with how our body and brain tells us to go.
Habits are formed in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia and the point of this evolutionary aspect of forming habits is to increase efficiency in our brains.
For example, one study took a mouse and inserted an implant into their brain. They would then put the mouse into a maze. At the beginning of the maze was a wall that would only come down once a ringing noise would sound off. Then the mouse would navigate the maze in order to find the cheese at the end of the maze.
The Beginning Of Habit Formation
So there was the Cue, the sound, the action, find the cheese, and the reward, get the cheese. What the researchers noticed was that over time of doing this maze, the level of brain activity changed once it became a habitual routine. The changes they saw was that there was a spike of activity during the cue and at the reward, so the beginning and ending of the habit sequence. In the middle, during the action, the level of brain activity was significantly lowered.
That is one of the main point of the basal ganglia, it is involved in the formation of habits. This way when we start a habit sequence and are doing the action, the level of activity and energy in the brain that we need in order to take the necessary actions are significantly decreased and the action is ingrained in us so the entire process becomes much more efficient.
Our entire days are made up of habits, our morning routine, our pre-bed routine, how we cook dinner, what we do when we clean, the way we sit when we watch TV or the way we sit at a dinner table. They are ingrained in us habitually and it impacts everything we do.
How Much Do You Really Think About The Common Actions We Take?
Now, what I want to do is talk to you about an extremely simple, yet boring example of a habit that we all do, most likely every day. This habit is how we pull out of our driveways. In this example, my driveway is an L shape which makes the steps make more sense. The series of steps that happen when I pull out of my driveway goes as follows:
1) Turn the car on
2) Put my seat belt on
3) Put down my windows
4) Turn on my music and put my phone down
5) Step on the brake and put the car into reverse
6) Checking my rear view mirror, backup camera, and side mirrors constantly throughout steps 7 – 12
7) Slowly back up about 5-10 feet
8) Begin to turn the wheel to the right in order to back out into the straight away part of the L Shaped driveway
9) Line up myself perfectly in the straight away part in between the car parked on my left and the bricks that surround the front lawn on the right
10) Slowly continue to reverse out of the driveway up until the a few feet before the sidewalk to ensure that there are no people walking on it on my left or right
11) Begin to pull out onto the sidewalk and check the road for any oncoming traffic
12) Pull out of the driveway, put the car in drive, and drive to my destination
Pulling Out of The Driveway Is Some Crazy Shit Right?
If you think about it, the number of separate actions happening and the number of actions that are happening simultaneously is kind of intense right? IT IS A LOT, but we don’t think about it because we have done it so many times that it is habitually how we handle it. It becomes an efficiency aspect of our brain when our brain makes it a habit rather than us having to think about every single aspect of each action with our entire brain power. It would be absolutely exhausting if we didn’t have habit formation.
Because of this, we have made it so much easier, efficient, and automatic to take actions throughout the day. The point is, HABITS ARE SO POWERFUL, and is why I am such a big believer in studying the science of habits, habit formation, the psychology of habits, and so on. You can take this knowledge and begin to design your own habits, take your bad habits and turn them into good habits, take an ideal habit and piggyback it off of a good habit.
It becomes this massive potential that many of us go throughout the majority of our lives without ever tapping into and it is time for you to start trying to hack into your own habits. Just know, the power of habits is immense and that you have the potential to hack into these to improve yourself, to be better for yourself, be better for your job or business, be better for your loved ones, your friends, your family, and just live a better life overall. Live a Striven Life.