Learning new things well, is linked to creating new neural pathways in the brain. Neuroplasticity of the brain is the reason that the old age adage - You can't teach an old dog new tricks is largely untrue.
You can teach an old dogs new tricks
The degree to how well we learn something has a lot to do with how strong the new neural pathways we develop become. The downside is that it takes some important virtues such as self-discipline and patience to create a new neural pathway. The catch 22 is that some of us already seem to have strong neural pathways in place that associate pain to the aforementioned virtues. When push comes to shove, we are wired to prioritise movement away from pain, rather than movement towards pleasure, after all we have an animal side that needs to survive and propagate.
If you are content with things as they are then there is no need to read any further. However, if we want to better ourselves, then we must realise that we can't find a solution to a problem with the same pathways that created it in the first place.
The old pathways simply need to be replaced in order for positive pathways to develop and emerge and solutions that start appearing. The good news is that the action of creating new positive pathways will help diminish the old connections in and of itself. As these pathways become weaker so does their power to bring us the results we don't desire. This may be due in some part to the consistency bias in our brains. We are unable to hold onto two opposing viewpoints at the same point in time.
This all sounds very empowering but it also sounds overwhelming and like a lot of hard work? The fact I can't solve a problem with my existing thinking makes me feel like I am trapped in a box, how then can I set myself free?
It is hard work but with hard work comes a 'good' life to be happy about. The answer we are looking for, lies in the fact that in order to solve a complex problem, the process begins at where simplicity begins. All good things come in 3's so here are my 3 takeaways for today:
- Become aware of one bad habit you have that is constantly bringing you an undesired result.
- Think to yourself, what would be the polar opposite of this habit. e.g. if it is a thought, think to yourself what would be the opposite of this thought. If it is a behaviour, ask yourself what would be the opposite of this behaviour.
- Test this new thought or behaviour and see if there are any subtle positive changes to anything in your life.
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