Override Your Brain’s Default for Ruts

eweber   September 7, 2008   70 Comments

If you find yourself protecting your turf or stuck in a rut with boring routines, you’ve likely defaulted to your basal ganglia. No need to stay there, once you see how your brain can create neuron pathways beyond these potholes. Probably you’ve observed how static lives come from dull daily routines where people settle into the cortisol that comes with status quo, and no longer seek adventure.

But have you recognized the brain’s way to regenerate to a better place?

Here’s how it works. At the center of most ruts,  lies your brain’s basal ganglia. Experts call it your  mental storehouse for  habits, routines and every lifetime experience you’ve encountered. It’s also a place to promote and prolong cynicism or other annoying ruts.

It’s a bit like a tug-of-war where the basal ganglia tugs for tradition and familiar, and working memory pulls for innovation. Have you seen it?

Risk-takers and people who surf the cutting edges of possibilities, simply override the brain’s basal ganglia default daily.  In surprisingly straightforward ways, they engage in mental fitness within their working memory and learn to release brain chemicals that override mental ruts. How so?

Use more working memory and you’ll also keep your brain fueled and rolling forward. Whenever you engage your multiple intelligences in new ways, for instance, you also override your basal ganglia’s ruts and rigid routines.

Which side of the chart below do you live daily? Do you act more from basil ganglia – to the left?  Or is your day fueled more by working memory to the right of the chart?

Basil Ganglia Routine – Working Memory Adventure


Play familiar music or attend a familiar band’s concert


Select new music to enhance your work


Sit more than move


Park away from doors and climb stairs daily


Discuss work related problems


Propose change to solve one key problem


Read daily paper


Read an unfamiliar trade magazine


Dress in conventional ways


Wear new colors and styles for a different look


Take advantage of nature after work


Retrofit workspace as nature friendly


Enjoy lunch with good friends or family


Invite a person of another culture to lunch


Lead with your strengths at work


Develop a weaker intelligence as you solve workplace problems

It’s quite phenomenal if you think about an average brain’s ability to rebound from ruts, and reboot for rejuvenation.

The working memory‘s capacity is tiny,  and holds fewer details than you can count on one hand. It can grow in size, but your working memory displaces current facts with newer details as fast as doughnuts disappear in Monday morning staff rooms. It’s a terribly uncomfortable place, that keeps one alert while always unfamiliar and rarely competent since details constantly change.

Interestingly, it was discovered recently that working memory, small as it is,  can literally expand with use. Consider the following facts about basal ganglia and working memory, before you chart new neuron pathways beyond their reach – toward success today.

Compare the basal ganglia‘s much larger capacity and see how easily it stores lifetime habits, regular routines,  and experiences that last a lifetime there. You likely see why basal ganglia workers remain quite comfortable in this seemingly secure place.

Can you also see how new neuron pathways can help to bridge the difference between mental rejuvenation and stubborn ruts. Will brain facts about your  working memory that overrides basal ganglia ruts,  make any difference to your day?

70 thoughts on “Override Your Brain’s Default for Ruts

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  17. Adolfo Lakers

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