What Makes Us Special
And why it hurts us in the 21st Century
Humans are special because we have the largest brains relative to our body mass in the known natural world. We are special because we have hands like no other animal. With these tools we could not only imagine great inventions like the “wheel”; we could also make it. No other animal can do that.
On the other hand we are born relatively dumb. Most species are born with the knowledge and instincts to survive in a particular environment, whereas we humans have to learn almost everything. For example the first time a bird leaves the nest it already knows how to fly. The first time we humans try to walk we fail and repeatedly fall until we get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect, eventually we learn to walk automatically, and when walking is needed it just happens we don’t have to think about it.
Repeating something often enough it is not only strongly remembered, it is automated to make life easy for us. This applies to almost everything we repeatedly do throughout our lives; it means that most of the time we are not making conscious decisions, our past is making them for us, based on the emotional reward centres of our brain, and how often we have repeated it. Generally we do not recognise when these unconscious automatic decisions are being made on our behalf.
This unconscious automated decision system that is designed to make life easy for us also makes it difficult for us to change lifestyles that may be required to age well in the 21st Century.
An Example of Automated Lifestyle Decisions
Imagine you are in the Pizza shop (assuming you like pizza) you look at the pizza’s on offer and choose one. Most persons after assessing what is available will, more often than not, choose the same type of pizza most of the time, why then bother to look at the menu? We believe our choice is one that we consciously make. In reality it is largely out of our conscious control, and has been automated to make life easy for us based on our past decisions.
When we buy a new car with have to think and make conscious decisions. Where is the light switch, how do I turn on the radio, where is the key slot etcetera. There is more thinking to do when driving a new car, but once our "mind map" of that new car is built via repetition, driving it easy and becomes “automatic”. We have “mind maps” of our house we don’t have to search for a light switch, we just do it, it's automatic.
We posses gazillions of “mind maps” including one of ourselves that is us. It is the result of our life experiences and how often they have been repeated. To successfully make permanent lifestyle changes (like permanent weight loss) we normally try to override the map of ourselves using willpower and self control. This rarely works.
To successfully thrive in the 21st Century, add years to our lives and more life in those years we can’t rely solely on willpower and self control, we need to learn how to modify the the “Mind Map” of ourselves to help make the lifestyle changes part of a new and better “mind map” of us. When this is achieved lifestyle changes become more automated, easy and permanent.
Boomers Health approach to lifestyle changes (dieting for example) recognises the potential futility associated self control and willpower. Boomers Health provides methods, systems, and knowledge to get our brains “map of us” working for us instead of against us.