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Why people yawn and what the yawning is good for might be discussed at great length, but here I will suggest something you can do when you yawn that might improve your life. The fact that yawning is associated with the release of the natural hormone oxytocin into your bodily system means there is a level of deep natural pleasure associated with the yawn. That hormone and that pleasure normally just float away as a pleasant feeling, but it might be used for intentional and positive personal growth. I wrote about this effect earlier under the title, Oxytocin to the rescue, where the idea was developed of using these moments of pleasure to think about positive activities you might like to reinforce in your future behavior. In that post the idea was to use spontaneous natural influxes of oxytocin to encourage desired learning behaviors. The idea was to intentionally create better habits by using your natural oxytocin. There is a small problem with that method in that you have to wait for these naturally occurring events, which happen randomly, perhaps only once a month. You must be ready for the half-minute window when you might reminisce about a new habit, and mentally or physically practice it.

With the discovery that oxytocin is released during a yawn it becomes possible to intentionally develop new habits more easily. Many people, perhaps most if they practice, can yawn intentionally, and if they can prepare a habit they want to cultivate they can practice it immediately. Thus when you want to cultivate a new habit, think about exactly what you want to do under certain exact situations, then do a deep voluntary yawn, and as you finish the yawn mentally practice the desired behavior for the next half minute. Space these one-minute yawns, with one behavior for each practice session. Spacing them several hours apart helps you learn them in a deeper way. Five to ten repetitions of this should get the habit installed in your subconscious so you can do it automatically when the situation arises. I like to cultivate the feeling of contentment with the past when there is time to relax.

If this process works for you, there should be a positive result the next time you get your stimulus-triggering event, but if it doesn’t you are only out five minutes of effort.