Good Manners Improve Your Executive Functions

It used to be that a family sat down to dinner together most nights. People waited by their chairs until everyone was at their seat. Usually, there was a prayer. Everyone waited until the head of the family or a guest started their first bite. People sat at the table until everyone else was done and left the table together.

It used to be the custom that a man walked closest to the street when walking with a lady in order to protect her from whatever might be happening on the street. If you watch movies from the 60s or earlier, it is easy to notice the difference in manners. Everyone is extremely polite compared to today’s standard.

It’s likely that while watching older movies you noticed that even the music was slow.  Did you note that people spoke and moved slower? Mozart’s sonatas were considered crazily upbeat in this time as well as Chopin’s waltzes. Even the work of those classical composer was almost considered wild people’s music. 

There are studies that show that modern times have brought a rise in impulsive behavior and attention issues not only in young children but also in adults. Impulsive behavior, lack of self-control, emotional outbursts, and other irrational behavior are linked to the pre-frontal cortex of our brain, a part that controls our rational thinking. That’s the same part of the brain that makes us different from animals, who rely on instinct and biological needs using only the lower, “ancient” part of the brain. 

Why is this happening to smart children and successful adults? Our brain is pliable just like a playdough or a muscle. Our brain develops and adapts according to its use. Checking messages frequently disrupts our chain of thoughts. Multi-tasking moving from one task to another in short intervals interrupts deep thinking. More and more, we are using our brain only using RAM (random access memory) rather than HD (hard disk). 

Being polite and following proper etiquette is a pleasant way to develop your executive functions. Waiting for other people with a smile on your face is not only good for manners, but it also develops your brain. Practice being polite! It’s good for you!