Week 10

The Power of Intrinsic Habits


The extrinsic habits discussed in this 10-week program bring balance to our lives. They help us to maintain balance with our health, our relationships, and our business. But what happens when we our out of balance? Burnout. The result of being too focused on our business at the expense of the other parts of our life.


Extrinsic Habits

A lot of our extrinsic habits bring with them a surge of adrenaline and a release of dopamine – adrenaline and dopamine are both neurotransmitters. Chemicals we make in our body.


Typically, these two chemicals are associated with the pursuit of things in our outside world such as goals and achievements.


Dopamine puts us into a mode of motivation, and adrenaline puts us into a mode of readiness.
Motivated and ready to repeat our daily habits, pursue our long-term visions, and achieve our short-term goals.


But we know humans will eventually burn out if they are constantly going, going, going – full of adrenaline, motivated by dopamine.


You will have noticed a running theme throughout this program, it will crop up repeatedly in future CoP programs as well, which is the role of ‘balance’ in our lives.


If we only do things that release the neuro chemicals adrenaline and dopamine into our bodies, we will soon end up out of balance.

Intrinsic Habits


We can install a healthy daily balance of extrinsic habits and intrinsic habits then life simply gets better – we get better at business, we get better at relationships, and we improve our health, both our physical and our mental health.


In the language of neuroscience, we want to install good habits that release a balance of different types of chemicals, different neurotransmitters.


This means the balance of serotonin and oxytocin, to go with the adrenaline and dopamine released by the external habits we have focused on so far in program 1.


This is what we will be looking at in program 2, but first let’s go a little deeper on why we need serotonin and oxytocin in our bodies, and how to get it.


These two chemicals represent the mirror side of adrenaline and dopamine – they give us a healthy balance.


If dopamine puts us into a mode of motivation and adrenaline puts us into a mode of readiness, then serotonin and oxytocin promote relaxation and parasympathetic activation.


The Parasympathetic Nervous System is the part of our nervous system that helps calm everything down, it decreases the heart rate, it decreases respiration, and it brings blood back into our digestive and reproductive systems. It’s known as the ‘rest and digest’ system whereas the other part of our nervous system, the Sympathetic Nervous System is known as our ‘fight and flight’ system.


Feeling the emotion of love is another way to activate this part of our nervous system and release serotonin and oxytocin. These chemicals simply make us feel good. They make us feel soothed, and not in response to the things we’re motivated to go and get, but in response to the things we already have.


When we experience a great meditation, when we enjoy a great meal with our friends, when we spend quality time with our family and loved ones, when we do anything that makes us feel genuinely grateful for what we have, then this “feel good” feeling promotes the release of serotonin and oxytocin.


If adrenaline and dopamine are associated with the pursuit of things in our outside world, then these are the “inside” chemicals. They are released when we feel good about the things we have rather than the things we want.


Both types of chemicals are good, both are needed, and our mind and body simply functions better when we have a balance of all types rather than an imbalance of adrenaline and dopamine which is quite common.


That means balanced between the high modes of pursuit and the drive for results which is the human spirit, with some relaxation, some replenishment, some repair, and with some calmness and solitude.


The thing is, if we can oscillate between these four types of chemicals frequently throughout our day then this healthy balance keeps us out of what is known as the ‘survival state’ where we feel limiting emotions such as frustration, worry, comparison, fear, anger, impatience, guilt, anxiety. And it takes us into what is known as the ‘creative state’ where we experience elevated emotions such as love, gratitude, inspiration, kindness, appreciation, abundance, strength, enthusiasm.


With a focus on working on our Self Image, this is what we are going to look at in program 2 – how to look inside ourselves as well as looking at our outside world for success and achievement, and how to oscillate in this way and bring a healthy balance to the way our bodies and our minds work.



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