Science Behind Habitual Me

What is the science supporting our 21 Day Theory?

After coming up with the idea for this blog, we decided to look into the science behind the 21 day theory.  Through some research, I found that this idea originated with Dr. Maxwell Maltz in the 1960’s.  While there doesn’t seem to be any neurological research or evidence supporting this, his science was based on repeated tests in counseling sessions with his patients.  His theory states that “Brain circuits take engrams (memory traces), and produce neuroconnections and neuropathways only if they are bombarded for 21 days in a row.”  The origin of his research came from his cosmetic surgery practice, where he found that his patients retained a poor self image even after having surgery which improved their appearance.  He began applying his 21-day theory towards improving the patient’s self image and changing his/her mindset prior to surgery, and he found that in many situations, surgery became unnecessary for them (The concept of improving self-image in order to become successful is another tenet of his theory).

Unfortunately, the theory (named “Psycho-Cybernetics”) was taken over by some guy after Dr. Maltz’s death and turned into some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, but the science remains helpful.

According to the book Brain Rules, “What you do in life physically changes what your brain looks like.  You can wire and rewire yourself with the simple choice of which musical instrument – or…sport – you play.”  According to one study mentioned in this book, there was even one specific neuron in a man’s brain that existed solely to respond to pictures of Jennifer Aniston and no one else – you really can make new neurons to do just about anything.  Neurologically speaking (on the simplest level), when you do something new, a couple of neurons interact to accomplish this new task.  The more you repeat this activity, one neuron (associated with that activity) will grow and swell until it divides into two neurons associated with the activity, and so on and so forth.  This continues to happen the more you repeat the same activity, and these nerves can “strengthen their electrical connections with each other, increasing the efficiency of information transfer.” (in other words, it creates a strong new neuropathway)  Once this neuropathway is in place, it’s harder to stop it than to continue using it.  THAT is creating a habit!  According to Dr. Maltz, it takes 21 straight days of repeating an activity to build this strong neuropathway.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: