Good intentions, reorganisations and change processes. Each of them starts out hopeful, but most eventually collapse hopelessly. Why? Because our stubborn laziness gets in the way. Learn here and now how to outsmart them and initiate change.
This text will take you no more than 5 minutes to read. In that short time you will not only learn how the 3 most important parts of your brain work, but also how to take matters into your own hands to successfully get through your next change. Hold that concentration for a while, you can do it!
Let’s start with this: this text is based and inspired by the book Change for lazy people (affiliate) of philosopher / multi-author Paul Smit and neuroscientist Ayca Szapora. An absolute must.
The reptilian brain is the oldest part of our brain. It houses our instincts and has only one focus: survival. It constantly investigates whether there is danger in our environment. If so, the reptilian brain immediately decides whether to flee, fight or freeze. It also constantly scans for food: after all, if you have something to eat, you will not starve to death. Finally, the reptile in us has a soft spot for attraction and sexual urges, under the primal motto: is there still something to reproduce?
Important to know: some things you learn and repeat often settle in the reptilian brain. Thus, like instinct, they become instantly available and unforgettable. Practice gives birth to instinct, say. Do you want to be able to do something well and make it completely ‘your own’? Then that is a matter of repeating, repeating, repeating.
Scientists also refer to the mammalian brain as the limbic system or the emotional brain. This is where our chronic laziness resides. Making an effort has never been our greatest talent. People prefer to take things easy, like to keep things the same, choose the easiest route and skilfully avoid exciting things. The mammalian brain is responsible for this: it spends all day getting pleasure and avoiding pain and effort.
Example: you are fed up with something and decide to buy a nice new coat. You see the picture on the website and you fall in love instantly. You allow yourself this pleasure. You will then see the price at the bottom of the screen. Oops, that jacket costs a lot more than you had hoped. Fear strikes: are you going to be around this month … or are you going to feel guilty about making this release? Hmm, maybe looking for a cheaper model.
This dilemma takes place entirely in your mammalian brain: pleasure versus pain. The fear of losing something is generally greater than the desire to get something.
The neocortex, also called the ‘human brain’, is concerned with rational and logical thinking, overseeing complex situations, reflecting on our behavior, thinking about the past and the future. This most recently developed part of our brain urges us to pursue a goal, to build a meaningful existence. We automatically give less priority to everything that does not directly match our set goals.
But hey, all the good intentions of the neocortex are constantly facing fierce competition from our inner reptile and mammal. Indeed: these three captains on one ship are constantly at odds with each other. It is therefore not surprising that ‘change’ is a huge challenge for you as a person.
Eating less fat to look better? Make that your reptilian brain has the full focus on feasting. Just make sure that your mammalian brain wants to make an effort for that, that laziness is of paramount importance. Even the neocortex can throw up all kinds of theories that list your weaknesses, making you seem hopelessly lost. Or which makes you think again and again (in vain): “I’ll start tomorrow”.
The solution: passion, urgency & accessibility
Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. Packed in three themes:
- low threshold
Know how to organize these 3 things around the change you want to bring about. I hear you think: passion? Indeed, that is a scary, far too often misused word. Especially in marketing and communication. But remember: if you do something to your heart’s content, the chance that it will succeed is a thousand times greater. So at least try to find a sense of enthusiasm in the change you want to achieve. Something you do ‘passionately’ (and often) is more likely to land in your reptilian brain.
It also helps enormously when there is a certain urgency. Why is this change important now? What depends on it? What problem do you solve with it? In what areas does it make you happier? Make it easier for yourself by thinking in if / then constructions. In this way, your neocortex clearly lists the advantages and disadvantages of the change. It’s up to you to convince yourself that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Finally: create opportunity. Remove all thresholds. Make sure that the change remains ‘top of mind’. Make it part of your daily routine, your normal pattern, your immediate environment. Simple example: do you want to exercise more? Make sure your sports shoes and your tracksuit are in a visible place, so that you can shoot in your sportswear at any time of the day to achieve a new personal best.
A big stick for change
So. Now you know how you can make changes in your life without getting stuck. Still, I will dwell on something very important. It is an example from my own experience.
Years ago I set myself a goal. I wanted to read more books, but was looking for a big stick. Then I indicated to Frankwatching that I would like to write a book review. We are now a few years later and I have reviewed about 30 books. As a result, I have gained a lot of knowledge, I have increasingly enjoyed sharing knowledge, I have learned the properties of a good book, I have got to know interesting authors and at the same time I have been able to improve my own writing technique.
Writing and creativity are my passions. My goal was to gain knowledge. Together with Frankwatching I have created the opportunity to combine these three. Sharing knowledge through reviews turned out to be the ideal form. And that led to, among other things, this text that you are reading now. Thank you for that.
The book? Excellently written
Wait. This was a book review, right? Indeed, I have gone astray. But that’s simply because of the following: The book Changing for Lazy People is an excellently written, humorous, yet profound book. There is little to criticize. The writers keep it short and sweet and thus tie in well with the target group.
They alternate manageable scientific knowledge and catchy examples are skillfully varied. Good luck with your next change process! You got this.
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