I know it sounds crazy to say this but we are hardwired to be lazy. And we have our brains to blame. The human brain is lazy. Or, looking at it another way, the brain finds ways of doing things that make it work less. That’s why we have habits. Habits allow the brain to be lazy. There is no conscious thinking involved. Habits put us on autopilot. This is a good thing if we have far more good habits than bad habits and a very bad thing if we have far more bad habits than good habits. The vast majority of the population in the U.S. has far more bad habits than good habits. This is why we have so many in poverty, an obesity epidemic, increased incidence of type II diabetes, cheating spouses, an abundance of harmful addictions (drugs, alcohol and gambling for example), racial discrimination and all sorts of other social ills. When too many individuals have too many bad habits, it affects all of society. Good habits improve everyone’s life, not just your own.
The commander in chief of lazy, inside our brain, is called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is tasked by the brain to create habits. The more the merrier. Why? The brain is an energy hog. It uses 20% of all of the glucose and oxygen created and taken in by the body every day. Without habits, the brain’s fuel needs would not be met. Brain activity would be forced to slow down. When brain activity slows, it sends a message to the rest of the body to go to sleep or rest. Without habits we would need to take a siesta every hour. Habits make it possible for us to function for long stretches of time, without the need for rest. So habits are wonderful things. The brain likes them so much that the 40% of all of our physical and mental activities are habits.