Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tie your shoes!

Replacing long ingrained habits can be a rewarding exercise for keeping the mind nimble. There are so many things that we do automatically, and trying to adjust or replace these behaviors requires us to concentrate on what we are doing instead of allowing our minds to run on autopilot. Of course, the brain's ability to automate frequent tasks is certainly a strength, since it allows us to focus on more important matters. But forcing your mind to learn a new way of doing something and replacing an ingrained behavior with a demonstrably improved one reminds the cerebellum who's in charge!

I've been tying my shoes the same way since I was a child, the same probably goes for you. It's not something we have to think about doing... as a matter of fact thinking too much about it will probably mess up the "muscle memory" that processes the task and give you a useless knot. So how about retraining that behavior with a more efficient bow-tying method? My goal is to retrain my muscle memory with the Ian Knot, the world's fastest shoelace knot. Which means every time I tie my shoes for the foreseeable future I will have to stop and concentrate on what I'm doing, just like when I was a child learning for the first time. And every time I forget and automatically tie the old style of knot it must be undone and retied correctly twice!

Time to see if I can teach an old dog new tricks...

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