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Quick guide on brain habits: The Lazy Brain and pain

If there's one thing your brain prefers to avoid, it's hard work. Our brains are so 'programmed' that they prefer to take the easiest route. Brains prefer lazy rather than tired. This was already mentioned in the previous blog about 'automation'. Because your brain is increasingly performing tasks on its own, it takes less energy.

Brain habits and pain: Changing the automatic

The 'laziness' of the brain also plays a role when you want to do something that takes effort. Your brain prefers the easy and preferably familiar path. This makes it extremely difficult to change 'automatic' habits. This is one of the reasons why healthier eating, quitting smoking and more exercise are so difficult to maintain. It takes your brain energy to do this consciously, and for a long time your brain will always (unconsciously) indicate that you'd better make the easy choice! Especially when you're tired, or have little energy, it's really hard to ignore your habits.

This creates a problem: pain increases when you give it attention. Attention to pain is often automatic and becomes a habit. Breaking through habits takes more energy than maintaining them. It is easier for the brain to stay in 'pain mode' than to adapt.

Increasing your chances of success

To influence your pain in a positive way, you will have to break through habits. This often results in a change of pain in the long term, where there are often also moments when the pain seems to increase... So it is not so easy to just change your life with pain. So why am I writing about this? Because knowledge about your brain and pain increases the chance of success. 

Imagine: if you don't know anything about your brain and think that you should see results after three walks and two relaxation exercises, you won't get very far. 

You know by now that things are different. That your brain, however strange it may sound, has become attached to your pain. That you will have to fight to prove the opposite to your brain. Keep on learning, reading and practicing. With knowledge and patience there is a way out of every maze. 

Fight the Lazy Brain: 3 Tips

  1. Doing new things is difficult. What can help is that you link a new habit to another one. Example: do a relaxation exercise immediately after the children are lying in bed. Or: every other day after washing the dishes you can take a break. 
  2. Involve others in your new habit. Tell them about it, set goals, or undertake it together with others. 
  3. A little strange perhaps, but make sure you eat well and nutritiously. On an empty stomach it is difficult to make decisions, and even more so to resist bad habits.