Probably one of the first things you did this morning was to brush your teeth. What were you thinking about as you did it? Getting to work on time? Things you have to do today? Your family? The chances are you weren’t thinking about brushing your teeth! You do it automatically, the same way you’ve done it for years. I bet it never occurs to you to brush differently, maybe starting at the back instead of the front, or bottom instead of top. Your perspective has always been the same.
This is how we tend to live our lives, on autopilot. We get stuck in routines and never question them. The trouble is, a way of thinking that may have served us well in the past might no longer be valid because circumstances have changed, or because we have changed. Yet we continue to believe what we’ve always believed, act the way we’ve always acted.
That’s why it can be so difficult to make progress, master something new, or have the confidence to tackle a new challenge. We’re not used to looking at things through a different lens. Our vision remains obstinately fixed from a familiar viewpoint. But by consciously changing that view point, even just a little, new possibilities become apparent and ways emerge to overcome obstacles. Fantastic things are within reach when we put our minds to it.
When we learn a new activity or change our approach to an old one, new neural pathways are forged in the brain; new connections between cells are established. It’s a process called neuroplasticity. The brain has this amazing capacity to rewire itself according to demand, in an attempt to accomplish any new task it encounters. It is actually possible to teach an old dog new tricks! The notion that we are too old or too fixed in our ways to change our approach is untrue. We hide behind it all too often, get stuck in a rut and fail to challenge ourselves.
So, what have you done today that’s new? How many neural pathways have you forged? How can you approach even familiar activities from a different angle to get better results?
And most importantly of all… What will you be thinking about when you brush you teeth tonight?