New Year’s Resolutions and Our “Lazy” Brain
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 6:21 pm
By Eva Ritvo M.D.
We are just a few weeks into the new year/new decade and already I am finding it difficult to adhere to some of my resolutions, such as minimizing screen time as suggested in my last article. In case you are also struggling, I thought I would share some insights from my neuroscientist colleagues to help you along the way.
First and foremost, we must accept that our brains can be “lazy.” You probably never thought of your brain that way. Some of us may not even think about our brains much at all. But if we do, understanding our thought processes can help make life easier, more productive and more fun. In fact, thinking about your brain and how it works is now quite popular and has spawned a whole new field called “Mindfulness” which means knowing one’s mind and stepping outside of it to be able to observe your thoughts and feeling.
Our brains were designed and evolved in times of scarcity. Food was hard to find, and energy had to be conserved. Brains are very energy intensive meaning it takes a lot to keep them running. In fact, about 20 percent of our calories go to nourishing our brains. So, our default mode is to conserve. Did you ever wonder why picking up a long book feels so daunting? Your brain most likely is in conflict. One part is saying “Great, this looks interesting, I can probably learn something new which is exciting so let’s go.” The other part is like “Hey, that’s long. Do you know how much energy that will take? That magazine looks cool!”
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