Auto Mode

The basal ganglia is a portion of the brain that is respönsible for some of our especially unique behaviours in our day to day activities. For example, when we were younger, we found it difficult to perform the skilled movements of our hands when writing the different convolutions of the letters of the alphabets, as well as the numbers. Now, when we write, we simply think of the words or numbers that we write and not the individual complexities of each alphabetic or numeric symbols. The same phenomenon occurs when you compare the ball juggling skills of an accomplished player such as Lionel Messi and those of an unsporty person like myself. For Messi, controlling a football would almost be second-nature, while I would have a hard time staying on my feet. The only reason why you could write so well without stopping to think about how you actually wrote is due to the fact that you’ve kept on writing and writing over time. Also, Messi’s ball control skills are impulsive because he has continually played the ball on and on and on.

You have the capability of going into an automatic mode without consciously thinking of what you are doing. And during this automatic period, the character you exhibit is a product of what your habits have been over the course of time. For example, there was time I found myself in an awkward situation where I had to give a minispeech. I did not know what to say. I consciously thought of a few limes but they were not going to be enough to carry me through the speech. So, I just started talking! I was not actively thinking but I was just talking. Soon, I started listening to myself and I found out that I was making sense. What I was saying was acceptable. It could have been better, however, if I had been feeding my mind with more edifying materials than comic strips, novels and school books.

The basal ganglia is not the same as the mind, since the basal ganglia is only concerned with the subconscious performance of voluntary motor functions. However, they are both dependent on the principle which is our minds. Just like the evolutional theory of use and disuse, if Messi would suddenly decide not to play ball for a considerable period of time, ball control skills would no longer be second nature to him. The same applies to our writing skills. In the same vein, if we develop good/bad habits consistently over a period of time, whenever we enter our ‘automatic’ mode, we’d naturally ooze with good/bad, as the case may be.

The good news is that it’s never too late to pick a good habit or drop a bad one. Psychologists have discovered that it takes only 21 days to learn a new habit. So, why not purge yourself of all bad habits and make up your mind to feed yourself with positively edifying material. In the end, it would all be worthwhile.


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