• Firdose Khan

Thoughts, Habits and Motivation

Thoughts. The average person has around 6,000 of them a day. Often, especially when mental illness is present, not every thought we have is a positive one. However, we must remember that our thoughts are our own perpetual companion; our internal voice.

I personally, would make a terrible self-companion. However I have tried to change this through practicing positive-thinking and making small changes to my life.

I came across this quote.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

― Gandhi

Personally, this quote scared me the first time I heard it. To think that our thoughts shape our destiny is a terrifying thing. However, there is one key step here that turns the thought into real action with the capacity to change your life, and that key is the habit.

Habits. We all have them, even if we don’t know we do or notice them. To access the device you’re reading this on, you likely performed a series of tasks - turning the device on, entering a password and opening the browser. The brain doesn’t notice when we do these things, or even bothers to address the fact that it’s doing them. To put it simply, a habit is formed when your brain chunks together a collection of tasks and moves it to the part of your brain that will perform them unconsciously.

Sometimes, thoughts will turn into action. If you have negative thoughts and begin acting on them, they will eventually begin to shape your life. You might start relying on certain action as an unhealthy coping mechanism, and eventually make it your habit. Luckily however, the same thing can happen with positive thoughts and positive actions.

Motivation is a process that can be thought to have feathers. It comes and goes as it pleases, much like a stray cat. Biologically-speaking, motivation is born from high levels of dopamine in the striatum and prefrontal cortex. Sometimes, simply the motivation to go on can be hard to come by. Habit however, is strong enough to literally change your destiny. Once you train yourself to do something, your brain shortcuts it for easy access later.

I suggest riding the wave of motivation as far as you possibly can, trying your hardest the next day to put in the effort necessary to create a long term habit, and in the days after following through and showing up for yourself. Build habits for no one's sake but your own.

After all, you’re worth all of that and more.

Love, T. M. (2014, April). Oxytocin, motivation and the role of dopamine. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3877159/.

Tseng, J., & Poppenk, J. (2020, July 13). Brain meta-state transitions demarcate thoughts across task contexts exposing the mental noise of trait neuroticism. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17255-9.