What We Practise, so We Live


This week I watched an amazing video about a man learning to ride a specially designed bike (CLICK TO WATCH: The Backwards Brain Bicycle). The bike looks like any usual bike except for the fact that when you turn the handlebars to the right the bike turns left, and when you turn the bars to the left, the bike turns right.

The video is about how long it took him to learn to ride this bike. And, forgive me for the spoiler, but the amazing part is that it took him eight months of daily practice until his brain finally got it and he could ride the bike.

I love this video because it shows so potently the truth that neuroscience has been increasingly telling us – that our brains only learn by practising and practising. We simply can’t expect to undo old habits and behaviours and ingrain new ones overnight. It is akin to thinking our bodies can radically change by one visit to the gym.

Most of us know we can’t change our behaviour without changing our beliefs. The man learning to ride the new bike couldn’t learn because his old way of thinking about bike riding was so ingrained. Equally, if I fundamentally believe that I am a failure and life is out to get me, it will be desperately hard for me to truly motivate myself into any sustained action that would support the flourishing of my life.

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