The Brain Science Behind Habits

Published on January 5, 2017

Your subconscious mind constitutes 90% of your daily decisions, actions, feelings, and beliefs. It is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious mind. Over the course of your lifetime, many ideas, thoughts, beliefs and skills have entered into your mind creating neural pathways. Each pathway forms in approximately 21-30 days. Electrical impulses continually fire connecting the 100 billion neurons in your brain through hundreds of thousands of synaptic connections. The more thoughts you have about a particular subject, idea, issue or skill, the more neural pathways and connections will form, creating incredible networks in your brain bent in that direction. Neural pruning is the result when we replace old thoughts or beliefs with new ones, so we are constantly renewing our minds.

The largest and most influential neural networks typically gain their beginnings from a tragedy, trial or deeply emotional event.

Think about where you were when something horribly tragic happened in your life. That moment, the magnitude of the event mixed with the feelings you felt and the consequences that most likely followed were etched into your subconscious forever. It can be played back clearly in the theater of your mind whenever prompted. It was the strong feelings you had at that time which created such powerful memories. Compound that to the thoughts you most likely meditated on for days, weeks, months or even years after the tragedy and you have created significant changes in your mindsets, sometimes even altering your core values.

In the same way, if we want to create positive thoughts, images and beliefs about any one thing, we must first alter our subconscious mind. This must be done by generating passion or emotion combined with thought in order to create the right neural pathways and synaptic connections in order to sear new perceptions into our subconscious mind.

For years, athletes have trained using this concept. They are asked to visualize themselves competing in the sport of their choice in their minds eye only. They must engage emotions, thoughts, feelings and other senses in this exercise. This includes the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and even the outcome they desire while visualizing.

When hooked up to devices that track their vital signs, their nerves and muscles during this exercise, it has been discovered that their bodies react as if they were actually doing the sport itself. Study after study has proven that the performance of an athlete improves vastly and consistently with this type of visualization.

Science has concluded that the subconscious mind does not know the difference between an imagined event and an actual event.

Therefore, utilizing this knowledge as you pursue new habits and develop a new routine can only help. Realize that you were designed to succeed, but only if you will tap into the resources you were born with.

Retraining your brain from a lifetime of wrong perceptions and poor habits requires not only changing directions but utilizing “tools” to aid you in keeping your focus and working on cognitive restructuring. One of the many tools I recommend to my clients is affirmations. I am not suggesting the type of affirmations that are referred to as positive thinking. When you merely think positive but you have no solid belief about it; or what you say does not agree with your core beliefs, this is referred to as “cognitive dissonance.”

Affirmations are an effective form and element of cognitive restructuring. However, simply speaking them is not enough to create change. You must speak affirmations AS IF you truly believe it using your mind, heart and emotions. When you mix all three together along with a vivid imagination, you powerfully influence your neural pathways even at their deepest level. If done in this way frequently and consistently enough over time, the result is “neural resonance.” Ultimately, this means your heart and mind now agree and your core values align to what you are saying.

Do you still struggle with this philosophy? Let’s look a real statistic. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, “about 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years.” The reason for this sad fact is that they have not developed their mindsets to cope with large amounts of money. They are in cognitive dissonance at so many levels causing them to make devastating and uninformed decisions with their fortune. In effect, they are trying to take a short-cut to riches without changing who they are in their subconscious so they end up losing it all and more.

With anything you want to alter in your life or create growth, it will require a sacrifice of your time, effort and energy. View the work that must be done as a “school of success.” If you want your degree, you will need to be creative with your time, diligent with your studies and devote yourself whole-heartedly for a season so that you can reap the rewards!

One philosophy I find very useful in doing whatever it takes is to keep telling myself, “If you are too comfortable, you are not growing.” If we are truly honest with ourselves, we find that it is in the uncomfortable moments of life, we can look back and see the most growth.

My Morning Routine

Building a brand-new routine takes discipline, commitment and perseverance.

When I first developed the morning portion of my new routine, I determined to awaken 1.5 hours earlier each day (4:30am) and create a sort of “power hour” filled with exercise, prayer, affirmations and insightful podcasts. The mental exercise prepared me to start my day with an outstanding mind set. While the physical exercise empowered both brain and body to become more alert, creative and clear. Within only a few weeks, I noticed more energy to tackle the day as well as relief from brain fatigue and brain fog.

Both physical and biological evidence proves that physical exercise triggers the pituitary gland which then floods our bodies and our brains with endorphins. This produces a sort of “energized mental high.”

In fact, studies have found that a good dose of endorphins can be 200 times more powerful than morphine.

However, in the beginning, it was not easy at all. For the first month, I stood sleepy-eyed in the bathroom arguing with myself and wanting to go back to bed. Sometimes, I even succumbed to the temptation convincing myself that sleep was more important.

But after approximately 3-4 weeks of persistence, I began to really notice the difference and my “why” became bigger and bigger. The combination of my “why’ and the new habit that was now forming helped me to stay determined to stick with it despite how I was feeling on any particular morning.

As a result of this “power hour,” I grew my business 200% in only 6 months! Today, years later, I still keep this incredibly valuable routine M-F every week and I love it!

Never give up, the payoff is worth it!

At this point, you may be asking, “So how does that make things happen in the exterior world around me?” To answer that question, I refer to another great proverb that states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Think for a moment about someone you know who is wealthy or successful. Now think about the types of people and opportunities they currently attract to them. What if they awoke one day and started thinking they were poor and struggling at life, relationships and in their career? Over time, if they persisted down this path and began making decisions that aligned with this new belief system, would it change who was attracted to them and eventually ruin their financial state?

The evidence is real, tangible and scientifically backed! You truly ARE what you think about. So if you are unhappy with your world around you, change it! Be intentional and the results will speak for themselves. I love what Jim Rohn says, “You are not a tree, move!”

This section was taken from a book I am writing set to release sometime in 2017. Want to know more? Feel free to contact me or just share your thoughts….thank you for reading!