Repetition Reinforces

Learning 1: In 2005, after completion of first year of college, I had a summer break of two months. As any young person in early twenties would think in such times, I too was thinking what could be the best way to utilize this time of eight weeks.

Luckily for me, slightly before the break I noticed one of my friends at college typing using all ten fingers. Add to it the fact that my father did a course on stenography when he was my age. This gave me the impetus to learn ten finger typing. I got the software and began my baby steps in the world of typing.

Slowly with more practice I got better and better. Today, a decade of grinding on the keypad later, I would consider myself as a person who types intuitively. I donโ€™t look at the keys, nor do I have to. All the fingers of both my hands run on the keyboard as if they have a mind of their own!

Learning 2: In the mid of the year 2009, I entered in a room where there was happening a meeting of this club called Toastmasters. It was about speaking on stage. The moment I went into the room, I knew there was something there for me. I had no iota of doubt in my mind as to whether or not I should be a part of this community. For a year, I successfully dedicated myself to improving myself in my stage speaking skills. Then from 2010 to 2013, I took a three years break from Toastmasters post which I became a part of it once again in June 2013.

Since the last two years, it has been an upward journey so far. We meet every Sunday for two hours, work on a little aspect of our public speaking and depart for the rest of the week. Then comes another Sunday, then another and the story goes onโ€ฆ

Over the last two plus years, one Sunday at a time, I have seen an improvement in myself in the way I conduct things and behave on stage. I have also seen a tremendous improvement in others, especially in those who have been regular in it.

From Effort to Effortlessness

Think about yourself and you will find a ton of cases from your life where it took time for you to learn something in the beginning and then, with practice, as you grew stronger in that particular area of life, you do it intuitively. Say the most fundamental things we do such as walking, cycling, jogging, speaking, listening, driving et al.

It appears as if the effort that was once required is not required anymore. As if we have moved from the stage of effort to one of effortlessness.

Repetition Reinforces

Look at the two learning above. The more I repeated going to Toastmasters, the better I became at it. The more I repeated typing on the keypad, the better I became at it.

This is primarily because at first, the neurons in the brain take time to assimilate together in a certain pattern. But once the pattern is built, it gets easier for the neurons to create further and further patterns over the basic formed pattern.

In essence, Repetition of similar things over a period of time Reinforces them in the mind.

This is a fairly known phenomenon that repetition of anything leads to betterment in that particular area.

Think of the Tendulkars, the Federers, the Anands, the Tysons of the world. The countless number of times they have practiced their craft led to excellence in their respective domains of life. In other words, practice makes permanent or repetition reinforces.

I consider this to be a fundamental aspect of human existence, and also of human psyche.

Think-it-over: Think of the different areas of your life where you have moved from effort to effortlessness because of Repetition. Is there anything that you want to learn but are not doing because of fear, busy-ness, laziness or any other similar excuse? That new diet plan, the jogging/gym sessions, the dance classes, the preparation for that big exam or any other project that you envision.

Well, letโ€™s just say itโ€™s time to assess and start! And do it over and over again till the initial thrust is over and the repetition of the stimulus creates the new neuron pattern in the brain which then reinforces itself until you reach a stage of effortlessness. Then begin something new!

It takes a great amount of effort push the cart to the first mile. Once the cart gets momentum, with power of repetition it moves on its own.

  • vijayshree

    Wonderful post , It took my attention towards taking actions on my improvement…”nicely explained in so simple way”

  • Tanjul

    All your posts are inspirational for the students like us who just began their twenties. Thank you Agastya.

  • Esha Gupta

    Whatever I had in my brain …has been put into words! Tp put it into a song..jo bhi main …kehna chahun ๐Ÿ˜€ ..interesting read though ๐Ÿ™‚
    I noticed that while driving, that it has become intuitive….but I have a question is repetition the only way or is there any other way….what about intelligence?

    • Thanks Esha!
      It’s an interesting question. Intelligence helps. Much the same way as Talent does. To draw an analogy, what Intelligence is to math, Talent is to a sport (say cricket, for Tendulkar).
      Talent or Intelligence, because of one’s karma or genes perhaps, surely gives a fundamental edge, but then comes repetition. The hours of hard work without which even intelligence will fail.
      To conclude, no substitute to repetition ๐Ÿ™‚