We are creatures of habit. This makes us efficient, but can also get us stuck in maladaptive patterns. It’s important to be able to change things up, and good for the brain as well.
This video is part twenty-five of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.
You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.
Let’s talk about habits a little bit. So habits are dangerous. Michael Pollan wrote a great book, How to Change Your Mind, which was a focus on psychedelics. He described something really… a really powerful concept, which we are creatures of habit and automation because it makes our lives easy. You don’t need to think about how you’re going to handle it when your husband calls you and tells you he’s late, or your children call you and say that they got a bad grade in school. You kind of have scripted ways of reacting that you tend to follow.
He compares our lives to a ski hill. He says that by the time you get to be about 40, you’ve got some tracks in the snow, and gosh it’s so easy to just… business as usual. Michael Pollan also says that by the time that you get to be 40, nothing surprises you anymore, and that’s exactly the problem, that nothing surprises you anymore. And I’m going to dip a little bit into this with the next slide where we’re going to talk about magic. But I want to point out to you that there are so many beautiful, miraculous things around us, that we just take for granted, that are not interesting anymore.
We should be aware of the power of habits. There should be something about not doing business as usual. More importantly, there should actually be something about doing things differently, and being a little spontaneous. Sometimes you’re giving a presentation, and you just like to jump! Why, because nobody expected that to happen, and it’s fun to do that sometimes. And if you approach this from a fractile standpoint, being spontaneous and random, and doing things a little differently on a small scale might actually equate to you being a little different and being able to change your ways.
The ski tracks are especially terrible and troublesome if you’re depressed or really anxious or stuck in any other negative pattern, because gosh it’s so easy to just go down the same path. So, please, whatever you do, try to mix it up a little bit. Learn something new, do something new, learn an instrument, go to new places. Drive home differently. The classic, cliché example brush your teeth with your left hand. Do this to be spontaneous, but at minimum, do this to not become boring because we’re all going to become boring if we keep doing things as we’ve been.