Road trips and daily commutes to work and home are made more enjoyable—or simply tolerable—by choosing the right soundtrack. When your auxiliary cord is broken, your iPod is out of batteries or you are depraved of a compact disc deck, you are resigned to listen to the radio, at the mercy of your friendly local deejays to provide a fun musical selection on your trip.
The worst part about listening to the radio, more than the unfortunate series of lackluster pop songs and uninteresting talking heads, is finding a station without the static. Before modern digital radios, it was necessary to finely tune your dial along the AM/FM spectrum to find just the right frequency to listen to anything, let alone something you enjoy.
The difference between you enjoying an hour or two of static-free song playing, succumbing to the stress of searching for a station worth listening to or turning off the radio altogether is in your desire to master your radio programming, the patience you have to figure out how to achieve the clearest broadcast and commitment to listening to a station for the long term.
When it comes to creating new habits to form a healthier lifestyle, your brain operates much like a radio transmitter. Consider your mind as a car radio. You have control over the dial. You power on your radio when you choose to make real changes to better your lifestyle, you explore all of the options for different behaviors and activities that will make your life happier and you focus on a track that fits your needs.
The beauty of the human mind is that it is always helping to work the dials for you while you’re not paying attention. It’s like having a friend or family member in the driver seat to help tune the radio while you focus on driving safely.
This cognitive process is known as neuroplasticity, which is the effort the brain takes to convert a sequence of actions into an automatic routine. As a new behavior become habitual, your brain will reorganize itself to accommodate for the change in your routine until it no longer needs to exert the effort. In other words, it will stop relying on decision-making and become rooted in your subconscious.
If you’ve worked at the same office for at least one week, then your daily drive is a behavior you likely put very little real effort into. It has become so routine that you no longer need to think about it. You just do it. The same thing happens when you begin incorporating activities such as running, lifting weights, cooking dinner, stretching, meditating, reading and writing into your daily routine.
The way your brain accomplishes this is much simpler than it may seem. Healthy behaviors that promote satisfying outcomes create positive memories that increase your desire and motivation to repeat that behavior.
When you do something good, your mind recognizes it and encourages you to do it again!
The rest is simply a matter of self control. Are you the type of person who needs to constantly change the radio station every time a song ends? Is the “scan” button your favorite component of the radio? That constant need for new programming might be manageable for your regular car rides around town, though you may end up annoying your passengers. When it comes to your daily routine, you need more stability in order to experience the positive results of your new routine. That means committing to a station that comes in clearly and you are comfortable listening to for a while.
Now, imagine if you’ve never used a radio before…
Without an instruction manual in front of you, left to your own devices, you would find yourself equally excited with the tuning of the dial as well as confused and disgruntled by your inability to figure out exactly how it works.
The Caterpilly program is designed to help guide you through your journey to a healthier lifestyle by providing the means for you to build your own road map to success and learn how to properly tune your mind to the right frequency.
The program capitalizes on the embedding of successful new healthy behaviors by encouraging the completion of specific and manageable Small Daily Goals. Each small win activates the reward-motivation system that leverages small advances into patterns of behavior. Further, by allowing the user to monitor their progress, the new behaviors are rewarded and reinforced.
Understanding how your brain aids in the process of forming healthy habits is like welcoming a new co-pilot on your journey to a better lifestyle. Unlike a hitchhiker you pick up on your road trip, this passenger has been with you all along—a friendly companion making sure you are moving along melodiously.