Monday, February 8, 2010

Daily Practice 39/365

Title: "Dinner Prep Still Life - Onion and Cauliflower"

I wondered whether I would make an image today because I initially had no impetus to continue with the project. This made me think of things I've read recently in several books about the brain, including "The Brain that Changes Itself" and "Brain Rules". It turns out that the difficulties in making changes in lifestyle, behaviours or habits has little to do with a lack of willpower, it has much more to do with the awesome power of the brain. Every action we take is supported by specific networks of neurons in the brain. The more we repeat an action, the stronger the connection between the specific neurons, and the more of an ingrained habit it becomes. Reducing our participation in a specific activity will weaken the connections that support that activity. Although this might seem a bit discouraging, I actually found this information to be quite encouraging. Because it is also true that we can change behaviours, or take up new activities, it just requires a consistent repetition of the desired behaviour or activity to start building a strong neuronal pathway in support of that activity. The beauty of our brains is their plasticity, their ability to constantly undergo "renovations" in their wiring. The book "The Brain that Changes Itself" has some amazing examples of this plasticity and how it can be harnessed.

So I have always had it in mind that if I make a commitment to take photographs on a daily basis, that I will build up a strong neuronal circuit to the point where it will become a habit - a good habit in this case. I think it's taking longer than I expected because I don't repeat the activity at a specific time of day - it has been all over the map so far, and that's fine. I just think it already would be on a more solid brain basis (like watching tv after dinner) if I was making photos at the same time each day. So it will take a little longer, but that's ok. Finally today, while I was putting together dinner, I had the thought to take out my phone and make some images during the prep. And voila - another day's commitment fulfilled.

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