FUNCTIONING ON “AUTOMATIC”
Handling Multiple Demands
God created you to be able to form habits, because the multiple demands of life won’t allow you to consciously think about all the little things you must do each day just to function in this world. So once your brain learns to connect a certain behavior with certain stimuli in your environment, that behavior becomes “automatic.” You perform it subconsciously without even thinking about it.
An example of a good habit would be the way you get ready each morning. Whether you go to school or to work, you go through the same routines. These routines may vary slightly from day to day. But basically you will turn off your alarm and then proceed to the next routine without thinking about what you are doing. When you brush your teeth, you will do it the same way you did it yesterday. When you eat breakfast, you will reach for a cereal bowl, and you will know exactly where to find it. In fact, you can carry on an intense conversation while fixing your breakfast, because you don’t have to give a single thought to what you are doing. All your actions are pre-programmed in your mind, and they have been reinforced through years of repetition. So you will get dressed without having to search for your socks. You will drive to work without thinking about the route you are taking.
Because so many of our actions are habitual, the bad news is that we can get locked into the kinds of behaviors that are detrimental to our lives. In fact, we can have habits that we don’t even realize we have. But the good news is that we can develop good habits just as easily. And once we know how habits are formed, we can circumvent the habit formation process in order to purposely develop the kinds of habits we desire.