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Taming the "I Don't Wanna!" Brain

by SOM Magazine

By Dr. Mark Waldman and Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D. |

Are You Ready to Commit? »

How many times have you made a commitment to change an old habit or form a new behavior only to find a vast well of resistance?

We sign up for the gym but rarely go. We choose to eat better and then binge on a favorite food. We start a new project but never finish it. We make excuses, or worse, we blame ourselves for lack of discipline. But it isn’t really our fault because the brain prefers to rely on old habits rather than form new ones!

In order to learn anything new, or change anything old, we have to habitually repeat a process before it’s embedded in long-term memory. But the brain finds repetition boring, and boredom turns off the motivation centers that drive us to reach any goal.

If you want something “more” (money, love, wisdom, happiness or peace, for example) you’ll have to overcome the brain’s natural laziness.

You can do this easily by changing your routines. Instead of saying the same prayer or affirmation each day, create original variations. If you’re trying to lose weight, change your diet strategy every month. Make it different and your brain will find it interesting, and with that new-found curiosity, the motivation centers awaken. A large quantity of the pleasure chemical dopamine is released, and this literally increases consciousness and your desire to strive toward long-term goals.

The same is true with work, play and relationships. If you don’t add variety on a daily basis, your brain will get bored and you’ll find yourself irritated with people and tasks you normally like. So the moment you feel that tiny loss of interest, take a 60-second pleasure break to do something fun and different.

Still feel resistance? Take a sheet of paper and write down every reason you don’t want to change. Then write down every reason why you do.

Look at both lists and ask yourself, “What do I really value and desire?” Trust your intuition — your inner spiritual wisdom — and write down five to 10 creative ways to keep your mind intrigued.

Watch how that neural spark of inspiration will return!


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