Want to change a behavior or learn new skills? If you follow a proven formula for learning, you’ll be able to develop and maintain any skill or habit you choose.
As Nobel Prize winner and neuroscientist Eric Kandel discovered, you need “repeated training interspersed with periods of rest.” Some people get super enthusiastic about learning something new, only to let their interest fade after a short while. Instead of overwhelming yourself, it’s much more effective to pace yourself.
When you practice a behavior (optimism, concentration, etc.) or want to train yourself in a new skill, just a few days of repeated activity will form a new neural pattern. If you keep it up, you’ll reinforce the neural pattern until the new behavior becomes easy and seamless for you!
During this process, it’s important to take frequent relaxation breaks during the learning curve. While you rest, mindfully reflect on your goal, desire, and progress. Take time to visualize yourself performing your new skill and achieving goals you set when developing your new skill.
Innercise: How to Learn a New Skill with Ease
1. It’s important to be calm, relaxed, and open whenever you want to make a lasting impact on your mental or emotional state. Take 6 long, slow, deep breaths, and feel yourself becoming receptive to new ideas.
2. Pick a new skill or behavior you’d like to develop right now (i.e., eliminating procrastination, eating healthier meals at home, windsurfing, playing the flute, or singing in a choir.) Choose something that you really want to do to enrich your life.
3. Commit to four days of conscientious practice at least 30 minutes each day.
4. After each round of practice, close your eyes, yawn a few times, and slowly stretch. Notice how good you feel for following through on your commitment, and really soak in the positivity.
In Kandel’s book, In Search of Memory, he explains that learning circuits in your brain need periods of rest to “establish long-term memory.” If you combine the learning-resting strategy with strong positive emotions during the behavior, you’re more likely to keep the habit or skill.
Feeling strong emotions attaches more importance to the neural circuit you just built, and if you practice followed by rest, you’ll store it in the long-term memory bank. The more times you practice the behavior and attach positive emotions to it, the stronger the circuit will be.
So there you have it! To learn any new skill or behavior (and make it stick!), just follow the formula for success.
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About The Author
NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.