The Devil Made Me Do It. Why We Do Bad Things

Rich Habits

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Believe it or not, there is a Devil and an Angel residing in each one of us. The Devil says “Do it now” and the Angel says, “Don’t do it now.”

The Devil goes by a more scientific name – the Nucleus Accumbens. The Nucleus Accumbens is part of the Limbic System, or mid-brain. It is often referred to as the “Reward Center” or “Pleasure Center” of the brain. In this brain region, all of our desires and impulses reside. It is also the brain region where habit cues are processed.

This region of the brain has millions of specific neurons called Excitatory Neurons, or “Do it now” neurons. These Do it now” neurons are triggered by external environmental forces, or “Environmental Triggers”. This brain region is focused on short-term, immediate needs and wants, aka instant gratification.

The Angel also has a fancy name – the Dorsalateral Prefrontal Cortex. The Dorsalateral Prefrontal Cortex is located in the upper, front brain region. It is often referred to as the “Logic Center” or “CEO” of the brain. One of its many jobs is to say “No” to the Nucleus Accumbens.

This brain region also has millions of specific neurons called Inhibitory Neurons, or “Rosehip Neurons” whose primary function is to tamper down the Exhitatory Neurons of the Nucleus Accumbens. The brain evolved this Angel-region of the brain because, more often than not, the Devil-region’s “Do it now” impulses created more problems than it solved.

Our “Angel” exists to prevent us from engaging in every impulse or desire we have, without first evaluating if the impulse or desire is beneficial or detrimental to us. This brain region is focused on long-term needs and wants, aka delayed gratification.

Always listen to that Angel’s voice in your head, especially when you experience and impulse to do something. Your Angel is there to keep you from making bad decisions, bad choices or engaging in habits that will negatively affect your life in the long-term.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”