63 Days to Build Habits and Long Term Memories

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Build Thoughts. Build Habits.

Thoughts do build habits as they are the seeds that precede action.

Take a moment and really consider the impact of thoughts on actions.  How often do you respond to an event without thinking about it? How long did it take for that muscle memory to ingrain itself into your very being … to become an automatic response, to become a habit?

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, spoke on The Sower and the Seed at Gateway church last year. She used the parable to illustrate the impact of thought on actions.

160508 bump lollipop mushroom Dr. Caroline Leaf
Memory Formation (Screenshot from Dr. Leaf’s lecture)

‘Thoughts are real things – they occupy real estate in your brain. Everything that you say and do is first a thought that you have build inside your head.’ Dr. Caroline Leaf

She described the circled structures on this dendrite as a bump, lollipop, & mushroom – representing the amount of time spent learning and using received information.  If you do not do anything with information in the first 24-48 hours, you do not even build a bump. If you are passionate about and use the new information for 5-7 days, it will create a bump on the dendrite. Further time and utilization will create the lollipop and mushroom shapes.

If you are disciplined to learn and work with the information (i.e. think deeply about) over a 21 day period, you will get the information into long term memory.,

According to science, in order for the information to build a habit, the information needs to be reviewed and practiced daily for another 42 days. That is a total of 63 days, or (3*21), spent with the information.

I have always been suspicious of the 21 days to change or create a habit. This lecture along with the NASA experiment confirms my suspicions. Quality habits requires quality construction which takes time. Build quality thoughts, store them in long term memory, and good habits will follow.

If you would like to dig deeper into this subject, please watch Dr. Leaf’s video. It is a little over 30 minutes. Whether you have spiritual leanings or not, the information she provides is good.

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