“Small steps to…” Initial enthusiasm wanes, unexpected obstacles knock us off the beaten path, often causing frustration and lack of self-confidence. If these emotions are not alien to you – you are not alone in this. A handful of information about how our brain works will help you make the changes you dream of in your life.
Small steps to - Status quo is best?
Our brain does not like change. As neurobiologists argue, the primal parts of the brain are geared toward constancy. Change (even change for the better) means stress and potential danger. This is where resistance to a new diet or increased physical activity comes from. Probably more than once before making any change in your life (even if it’s just a change of hair color) a red light went on in your head.
The best way to get around this defense mechanism is to act in small steps. Dr. Robert Maurer in his book “Kaizen Philosophy. How a Small Step Can Change Your Life” argues that the most effective changes start with small things, as inconspicuous as they may be. It is not worth planning to participate in a marathon right away, it is better to focus on a few minutes of regular movement, such as marching during one commercial break. By implementing these small changes, we can do great things in the future. You know yourself that Rome was not built in an instant.
According to research, more than 40% of our daily activities are dictated by habits. They work on a loop: trigger – habit – reward and are stored in the unconscious structures of the brain. They are indispensable for normal functioning, thanks to them, for example, we do not have to learn from scratch to drive a car by getting into a car every morning.
However, the brain doesn’t segregate habits into good and bad – it records the recipe for daily tooth brushing as much as it does for evenings at the TV with a bowl of chips. Behavior repeated enough times eventually becomes an automated activity, something completely natural to us. Our routine and the resulting habits are not always good. This is where nail biting or leaving the bed unmade comes from, for example. But remember that you can change it. It all depends on you.
Small steps to big changes
Is it possible to do something about it to bring about beneficial changes in life? Yes – we can overwrite new habits in the brain, for example, so that a lunch break trigger leads to eating a salad instead of a hamburger. Does it seem difficult? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let every healthy lunch choice involve pleasure – such as a phone call to a loved one at the end of a lunch break, or imagining yourself as a healthier, slimmer, vigorous person. It is also necessary to anticipate the reward – you need to cultivate the desire to repeat an activity, so that it turns into a new habit. With these small steps, we will achieve success in a short time.