The human brain not only controls our thinking, feeling, and acting – it also forms our habits. This is the task of the “basal ganglia.” Composed of several nuclei, they are the part of our brain that, among other things, forms routine activities from accumulating actions.

“If a thought or activity is repeated several times, the basal ganglia eventually take control and form a new neuronal path. This automatically forms new habits – so that in the future we no longer have to consciously think about and decide what to do, but the reaction, conduct, or thinking occurs automatically,” explains Gelmi, an expert in self- and relationship competence.

Driving a car is a good example of this process. As soon as the brake lights of the vehicle in front light up, the driver behind that car will also brake. This is an automatism that is based on the frequency of this situation in everyday life. Gelmi explains the process as follows: “The more often we repeat such a process, the more neuronal connections will be formed and the stronger the reaction will be out of habit.” And because it requires little awareness, it also consumes fewer resources in the brain.

The order of this process is always the same. In a first step, an impulse is activated that triggers a certain action – in the example above, this would be the brake light. In a second step, the conduct follows, such as here the stepping on the brake pedal. Finally, the process ends with the release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, signaling that the triggered reaction to the impulse was correct and should be repeated in the future. What applies to everyday situations can equally be used for personal success. An awareness of these functions gives us the opportunity to successfully create new habits.

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