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Automatic vs. Controlled behavior

Ever at the end of the day, look back, and think "I have no idea what I did today"? Do not worry this happens to a lot of us. The reason for this is automatic behaviors.

Automatic behavior, from the Greek automatos or self-acting, is the spontaneous production of often purposeless verbal or motor behavior without conscious self-control or self-censorship. - wikipedia

Why do we do this?

Thinking all the time about everything is not a good thing. Imagine if you have to think about breathing all the time. That would not always be terrible but it would make it very difficult to think about other things. Our body's learned to automate task and run these task in the back of our minds.

Auto is good, right?

The problem is our body do not have a clear rule book on what to automate and what not to automate. Sometimes our bodies can automate life and it gives us the feeling of "checking out". You might hear or say "Wait, what did I have for breakfast this morning?" or "I did something yesterday, but I can not think of it." These sentences are examples of when our bodies go overboard with automating behaviors.

Taking control

When we want to remove ourselves from an automatic behavior we need to move into a controlled behavior. This act is most commonly know as inhibitory control.

Inhibitory control, also known as response inhibition, is a cognitive process and more specifically, an executive function – that permits an individual to inhibit their impulses and natural, habitual, or dominant behavioral responses to stimuli (a.k.a. prepotent responses) in order to select a more appropriate behavior that is consistent with completing their goals. - wikipedia

There is many instances throughout the day where you want to be in control. Talking to a loved one, cookings food, responding mindfully to an email, solving a complex problem. These are only a few examples. Ideally your day would have more controlled moments then automatic ones.

The act of being present is the act of taking control. The times that you are more present are more enjoyable. You feel the feeling that you are having more vividly. You are listening to others more intently. The issues is that it is easier to not be present and you have to train you mind to be present.

Training your mind

Exercising you mind is, just as if not more, important as exercising your physical body. There are many amazing apps out there that help you train your mind.

Each one of these meditation apps will teach you about a technique called mindfulness. Which is just the act of being present in the current moment. In most mindfulness practices you really just need to slow your self down and focus on tiny task that our body usually automates. Breathing is one of the most common focuses in these practices.

Just Breathe

Mindfulness can be done without meditation, though meditation help you focus your mind and makes the task of focusing on the breath easier.

Catching bad automatic behaviors

Oat, our application, leverages breathing to take you from these automatic behaviors. Oat interjects at times that these behavior exhibit themselves in bad ways and try to get you to focus on your breath. By doing this the hope is that we will be able to pull yourself into a better state of mind to help avoid things like frustration and burn out.

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