If you have read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Slow and Fast, you must be aware of the two systems of our brain.
System 1 – quick, emotional, impulsive and intuitive and
System 2 – slow with conscious thoughts, the ability to analyze, and calculation.
Here the interesting point is system 2 is the thinking brain but its actions get influenced by system 1 i.e. by feeling and emotions. No matter how much knowledge we accumulate about any good change or habit which we want to incorporate in our life if our system 1 which is the emotional brain does not like it, we feel difficulty in doing that.
What is the solution (My Experience)
We do only those things where we see values and how we decide our values depends on many factors including the environment where we live and the stories we tell to ourselves. By weighing our values we determine something as superior or inferior. Hence whatever change we want to bring in our life is directly proportional to how much emotional value we give to that particular thing. With the help of system 2 (Thinking brain), we understand and analyze what is important for us and decide the value of any habit or change we consider important for us and our system 1( emotional brain) decides the associated emotional value for that change.
For example, if I want to include daily exercise in my routine, first my desire to keep myself in shape should be stronger because I know that exercise is good for overall health, and second I should feel happy about thinking of my slimmer version as a result of the exercise which will create its emotional value in my mind. Then only I can lure my emotional brain to do the exercise. This feeling of happiness in the anticipation of results will motivate it to take action. And if I apply only willpower here, definitely I will be able to do the exercise for few days but then after feeling mental pain of doing exercise … back to square one. I will stop doing it because my emotional brain will not see any inspiration in pursuing that. That is the reason despite knowing many things about good habit building, ultimately we don’t get much success because we can not take actions only by thinking, there should be enough emotions too behind that action.
This concept is not only useful in the case of physical exercise but I apply it for a number of things, which my mind wants to procrastinate. My experience is that if we start any change, the pace should be slow in the beginning and there should be enough emotional value attached to it which can propel our actions by bringing harmony between the two brains. This will increase the chances of getting consistency and desired results manifold.