Habits – Path Dependence

Brain size, creativity, Energy, Habits, Human Brain, Uncategorized

I have generally been talking about how the human brain eats 25% of the energy that a body needs even though it is only 2% of the body mass. This is one of the reasons for procrastination in my opinion because the brain wants to conserve energy and by delaying the process of using the brain it’s able to save energy.

Since motivation is something which is fickle, you would rather convert something into a habit, so that it gets done automatically with a predetermined set of steps – something which B.J.Fogg explains very well in his book Tiny Habits.

Now the challenge with habits is that once formed, they are difficult to dislodge. So you become – literally a creature of habit. The human brain loves habits because they run on auto pilot, and don’t consume too much of energy. Since one of the key functions of the brain is to ensure your survival, the brain loves everything that does not consume energy so that it has enough when it has to figure out ways to survive.

With habits though you always follow a predetermined “path”.

However with changing situations in all our lives, you need to find ways to move away from the so called “beaten path” What made you successful then, will not make you successful in the future. Nokia realised it too late, Kodak realised it too late and there are a whole lot of other names that you can list. All these companies had put up terrific systems (equivalent of habits) to ensure economies, to ensure quality etc.

But the same systems got them blindsided.

Companies are also made up of people and when companies get blind sided, its the people who have actually got blindsided because they have become creatures of habit. To solve a new problem they use the same old tools, the same old sources of data which they have used earlier. But since the problem is new, the old tools don’t work and we are not willing to go back to first principles to solve the problem. Sometimes it pressure of time, sometimes revenue takes precedence and there are a whole lot of other reasons.

So the key thing to figure out is when to use creativity and when to go with something which has already proven useful many times before. When do you travel on the well tread path or choose a different road when you hit a fork.

As team leaders this is a problem which we face all the time and finding better ways to solve a problem is something that I am continuously looking out for. If you have found a way which helped you to creatively solve a problem pls let me know below in the comments.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Habits & Procrastination – Part 2

Brain size, Habits, Human Brain, peak Performance, procrastination, Productivity

Yesterday I wrote about one intersection which I think that exists between the book Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg and The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler. Like I have said multiple times earlier, I find the work of both the authors, amazing to say the least. I have read more books by Steven Kotler (SK) , than by B. J. Fogg (BJF).

Now one of the things BJF talks about to make something a habit is that after doing the habit you reward yourself by pushing a fist in the air or anything else which gives you a feeling of accomplishment. that happiness feeling caused by the feeling of achievement causes the feeling to become permanent over a period of time.

I think SK looks at the neurological aspects and says something similar. When we feel good various chemicals like dopamine (he’s listed another 5-6 of them like oxytocin, serotonin etc. ) get released. These chemicals make you feel good and while you are feeling good you tend to achieve more. So when you do a tiny habit like BJF says and then do a happiness gesture, the mind catches it and it makes you feel good and the brain remembers the feeling.

What BJF is doing is however having a prompt to do an action – a very small action at that – the tiny habit forming action – and making the process more mechanical and therefore repeatable so there’s no chance for the brain to scuttle your plans and make you procrastinate.

I would love to take the best of both the books and see how I can profit from it. I consistently want to figure more and better ways to improve my performance levels, so let me see how combining the 2 methods from these two authors can help me tame my brain to perform even better feats.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Human Evolution

Brain size, Evolution, Human Brain

If you want to see the evolution of humans, one of the best places to observe that is in Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh is a state in Central India. It is a less publicised state with a lot of unique places to visit. One of relatives was in Madhya Pradesh Tourism and he asked me to invest time to visit places since he knew my interest in seeing nature and historical places.

So I visited Madhya Pradesh 3 times and he used to make my itinerary such that I got a good view of both nature and history. The best time I found to visit the state was from October to March, but if you intend to visit the state its best to visit the website of Madhya Pradesh Tourism.

Now in Madhya Pradesh, near the capital Bhopal, there is a set of caves call the Bhim Betka caves. The uniqueness of these caves is that you can see carvings/paintings made by humans who lived 100000 years ago …yes that’s not a typo, some of these caves were inhabited then. And then there are caves which were also inhabited 10000 years ago. Its a large area, I think its a UNESCO site one of the few where you can see the actual evolution of human beings who lived in India.

If you see the carvings/paintings of the different time maps you can actually make out how the humans evolved in this part of the world. In the carvings which are about 10000 years old, you can see in the carvings that they are using tools. Which means they had learnt by then how to use tools. You also get to see horses and other animals meaning, they had domesticated these animals by then.

The other thing to note is that even a hundred thousand years ago, the humans who lived in those caves had a thought process of trying to depict something on rock even if it was just line figures.

In hundred thousand years, humans have changed so much. The evolution of the species is so amazing.

Which brings me to why have zebras or tigers or sharks or lizards not evolved so much. They still hunt for food and their daily routine is still based on instinct flight or fight responses. This is something which I tried to see even in the Smithsonian museums and other museums around the world.

Two things which I have been able to figure out and my search is still on, is that the motor functions in the fingers of the hand and the space that our brain has to expand in our head has been the two main causes of the rapid evolution of the human race. The space for the brain in animals is virtually non-existent.

Now as per Steven Kotler, the space that exists for our brain to expand has given us humans the ability to keep learning and keep growing further. Now the pertinent question that I keep having is, why did the apes and monkeys not have the space when supposedly we have evolved from the same common platform. I will keep you posted as I learn more because knowing where we came from can help us to know how to go forward.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!