Find Your Stretch Zone

Boy giving okay sign with his hands new habits Learn new habits, change your brain.

At the core of recovery from addiction, alcoholism and codependency is the ability to learn new ways of thinking, new habits to replace the old. This story confirms, what many in recovery know that;

  1. New ways and spiritual change can occur, and
  2. Old habits are just waiting to be activated – if we allow them.

The Alcoholics Anonymous book says “we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful!”, and many have added ‘very patient’ (p 58).

The New York Times story says;

HABITS are a funny thing. We reach for them mindlessly, setting our brains on auto-pilot and relaxing into the unconscious comfort of familiar routine. “Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd,” William Wordsworth said in the 19th century. In the ever-changing 21st century, even the word “habit” carries a negative connotation.

So it seems antithetical to talk about habits in the same context as creativity and innovation. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.

But don’t bother trying to kill off old habits; once those ruts of procedure are worn into the hippocampus, they’re there to stay. Instead, the new habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass those old roads.

Ms. Ryan and Ms. Markova have found what they call three zones of existence: comfort, stretch and stress. Comfort is the realm of existing habit. Stress occurs when a challenge is so far beyond current experience as to be overwhelming. It’s that stretch zone in the middle — activities that feel a bit awkward and unfamiliar — where true change occurs.

Full story at The New York Times

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