Benefits & Dangers of habit formation
Easiest way of doing same thing many times & its pitfalls
I was writing an email the other day and I got a phone call from my friend. Since I wanted to sign off for the day soon, I continued writing email while I was talking to my friend on the phone call.
I finished writing email, I quoted some facts in it to support my point and I also added some individual email Ids of some important stakeholders in the ‘to’ list and sent the email. I’m still not done with talking to my friend.
After a 30 mins phone call, I put down the phone and got back to work. I received a positive response to my email. I was little upset looking at the sender that I should not have sent this email while talking to my friend, I would have committed a mistake and that could have triggered a negative response.
To my surprise, the email response was affirmative! Nothing that I was worried about after all.
Then, this put me under thought while on my drive back to home. How the hell, I could do this all? While talking on phone, writing an email quoting some facts to support is a bit complicated in general.
Not just me, I found many people do this. So, it is also a common practice — multi tasking.
I could then connect to my earlier readings of books like ‘Power of Habit’ and ‘Flow’ which touched aspects of these concepts.
There is a part of human brain called Basal Ganglia which acts like a muscle memory for our habits.
This part of the brain will help you to form habits even without your intent of doing so. If I ask you before reading this, you could not have explained the fact that you sometimes could do 2 things at the same time. but, I bet that none of the times, both of them are unfamiliar tasks to you. At least one of the two are familiar ones. In such cases, basal ganglia completely takes control of the familiar task so that you get control to other demanding tasks/new task.
This is very helpful as you sometimes get to do more work at the same time.
What are the dangers? See below examples!
Example_1: You’ll reach very quickly in supermarket shelves and buy those junk foods to which you are already habituated to. (This is not addiction yet. Addiction is a different thing and habit is different)
Example_2: Its possible that you cross the familiar road while talking on the phone, but accidentally ignore a crossing bike leading to accident.
How to come across this?
Being in present! (FLOW)
This is from the life changing book for me. Some people also connect if I say IKIGAI. Essentially, Flow is the underlying psychological framework for our IKIGAI.
The practice of following simple steps from Flow helped me to come across many things that were automatic in my life and do them still automatically, but now fully aware of what I’m doing. Thanks to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
 Breakdown every work of your day into small parts of challenges.
 Set yourself some small checkpoints and achieve them yourself.
 Celebrate or congratulate yourself for achieving these goals
 March forward to next challenge taking victory as a fuel to the future.
By following these simple steps in some of the daily task, we can take control from basal ganglia and perform some tasks consciously, still automatically.