I first met Martha when we were speaking to different groups in Vail, CO in early 2010. We were treated to a tour and lunch by the hosts and made an instant connection! I later visited Martha at her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Aug. 2010.
Guest blog by Martha Kaufeldt.
“For me it happened about five years ago. My eighty year old mother didn’t start until she was 78. And you? When did bringing reusable shopping bags to the store become a habit for you? This simple act of supplying your own sack for groceries can make a HUGE difference on the amount of plastic bags introduced into your local environment. As my friend, solo-ocean-rower, Roz Savage confirms, a single oar stroke doesn’t seem like much at the time, but added together with many others, it can make a big difference. But how does one get into the routine of bringing reusable bags to the market and refusing to accept plastic sacks? So many have heard the message, but haven’t reached the tipping point yet and formed a new habit.
I am devoted to helping teachers learn how to be “brain changers.” From brain research, we can get ideas to help us learn and strengthen our memories, and we can also understand how to unlearn old habits by replacing them with a new pattern.
We know that as you are trying a new behavior, neurons in the brain are prompted to grow and begin to make connections with other neurons. As the learning continues with more activities, tasks, and repetitions, the synaptic connections between the neurons are strengthened and the learning becomes hardwired. If the new neural network isn’t re-stimulated, the brain will begin a natural pruning process to get rid of the little-used branches. “Use it or lose it” is absolutely true. When we repeat a task multiple times, a new track is laid down that eventually becomes more defined and efficient. Much like when one slides down a snowy hill with a toboggan. Each subsequent run etches the route more deeply, making it harder to go “outside” the path. The more we use a new pattern it eventually becomes a habit. Pretty soon we are able to multi-task because the action or procedure is so well learned that it is automatic.
Once a memory or routine is hard-wired in your brain, it may very well stay there your whole life. In order to establish a new habit such as remembering to bring along your reusable shopping bag, you must establish a new pattern and repeat it enough to hardwire it in your brain. It may take between 40-70 times of doing the new pattern before the brain wires it as a permanent pattern. When you finally reach your tipping point the desired routine is established and you are now a devoted reusable shopping bag user – refusing plastic bags fervently.
There are several things you can do to hasten the new habit along it its formation:
1)Create a roadblock to disrupt your old pattern. I placed my wallet inside the reusable bag as I went out of the house. If I started to get out of the car without the bags, I would notice as I reached for my purse.
2) I f you want to make something a new habit more quickly… visualize it! Researchers have determined that mindful practice is nearly as good as actually doing the real thing.
3) Make an emotional connection to the new action. We remember things when our emotions are involved (positive feelings would be best!) Make your reusable bag special! Have your kids decorate it or purchase one as a souvenir on a special trip. (My husband and I gave out 90 bags at our wedding as “favors” and asked our guests to use them and remember us).
4) Determine what happens just before you would do the new routine. Set up a way to trigger your memory to switch patterns. Hanging the reusable bags on the front doorknob, etc.
5) Practice the behavior several times. Hang the bags on the doorknob, place your wallet inside, walk to the car and get in, get out and fetch the bags, and lock up the car. Repeat to remember.
Just keep doing it! Practice makes permanent!”
QUOTE: “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Martha Kaufeldt is a veteran educator, author and teacher trainer. She is devoted to helping teachers and students discover how brains learn naturally. If the brain is the organ for learning, then teachers should be brain experts! Her books include: Begin with the Brain: Orchestrating the Learner-Centered Classroom (2009), Teachers, Change Your Bait! Brain-Compatible Differentiated Instruction (2005), and Think Big, Start Small: How to Differentiate in a Brain-Friendly Classroom (Sept 2011) Martha lives in Scotts Valley, CA in the beautiful redwood forest near Santa Cruz. Visit her web site: http://www.beginwiththebrain.com
Or LIKE her Facebook page: Begin with the Brain.
I am starting to make slow but steady progress in the right direction. This is good. Conditions today were rough, and I was repeatedly tipped off my rowing seat by boisterous waves. But no harm done.
I saw a Humbug Fish (aka pilot fish) squiggling alongside my boat today. First time in a while I’ve seen one. Nice to re-make the acquaintance of the little stripey chappies.
Ken B – appreciated the comment about “the green thing back then”. It’s true – not long ago we used to be a lot more sensible, a lot less throwaway. Even *I* can remember those times! I wonder how we can return to those values without people getting uppity and whining that we’re taking away their right to create as much trash as they want to?
Marks-the-Spot – you ask: Big corporations, big government, big religion, is there any difference? Interesting that what these three have in common is “big”…. I’m listening to “Jennifer Government” at the moment – a frighteningly plausible logical conclusion to the way we’re heading.
Deb Smith and Chance – thanks for the jokes. Very good!!!
Sponsored Miles: Thanks to Sylvia and Darrell Vice, Bonnie Sterngold.