Your thoughts influence your actions. And your actions influence your experiences. Consequently, you need to change your behaviour to change your experiences. This starts with changing the way you think. Change therefore begins in the mind. It’s just like driving a car: Once you’ve learned how everything works (using the brakes, clutch, gears), it all starts to feel natural. Your subconscious has taken the wheel and driving becomes second nature to you. Learning, just like all types of behaviour, follows the same sequence: From thinking to doing to being.
THINK - DO - BE
The human brain processes millions of items of data every single second. It analyzes, investigates, identifies and classifies information, and stores it away. The information we store can be the accessed whenever we need it. The human brain is truly the best supercomputer on earth. Connecting millions of nerve cells, nerve fibres criss-cross the brain like a network of highways. When certain rural pathways are used more frequently than others, they form neural networks, resulting in specific patterns of thought, action, and reaction.
“What we think, we become.” (Buddha)
In specific situations, the brain immediately accesses old data to see if a habitual connection has already been formed. If so, it uses this well-traveled path. This explains why, when we are driving down familiar routes, we often cannot remember the entire drive. For example, when travelling home from work. The subconscious knows exactly where we need to go and sends a signal for us to turn right or left when we reach a (familiar) junction. This enables us to always arrive at our usual destination with ease, without having to make any conscious decisions. This situation probably also sounds familiar: Instead of driving home after work you’re going to see a friend. While driving, you become lost in thought, distracted by other topics. Suddenly, you realise that you are driving home and not to your friends house. This is exactly how we behave in all familiar situations that have already been linked with a reaction. In some cases, this can have a very positive effect. However, problems often occur when we allow our feelings (habits) to direct us toward a type of behaviour that we don’t actually want.
“Letting go is the key to happiness.”
If someone touches on something that is a sore spot for us, we often overreact. It only takes a few seconds for us to become very agitated or feel deeply hurt. Afterwards, it usually becomes clear that this reaction changes nothing about the situation and that we would actually much prefer to stay happy and relaxed. When we are in the middle of the situation, however, it isn’t that easy to recognise and control our reaction due to our old (familiar) pattern.
The brain always takes the simplest, and therefore the most familiar, path. Yet, should we manage to direct our thoughts and emotions, we can react in the way that is best for us (and for everyone involved). The latest findings in neuroscience have shown that this is something we can learn to do. One important thing to note is that certain exercises can help us to consciously change our brain. That doesn’t just go for certain situations but also for specific beliefs we have about our lives.