How to Use Neuroscience to Change Habits

This technique can change minds; literally!

Neuro hacks can change your bad habits.

(Lightspring /

As time goes on, neuroscientists learn more and more about the wonders of the human brain. Gaining a deeper understanding teaches ways to enhance your brain to work in your favor. You don’t have to be a brain scientist to do it! Learn how to hack your brain to boost creativity and focus.  

What Is neurohacking?
When you hear the word hack, you probably think of that sinister computer science term. Well, according to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, neurohacking works in much the same way (but for positive results). 

Computer hackers need to understand the inner workings of a computer to break into its system. The same goes for neurohackers: they need to know how the brain works to change its neural network. With this knowledge, people have come up with ways to optimize brain performance and stick to healthier habits.

Hack your brain's reward system to change habits
Neurohackers use their knowledge of how the brain works to change thought patterns, like daily habits. Doing this requires understanding the way that habits form in the brain. According to Science Daily, whenever you repeat a task, the brain connects its wires together between brain cells. Over time, these habits become hardwired into the brains. They become part of its circuitry. 

This mechanism works great to learn new things and develop good habits. Habits free up our brains so that we can learn new things. They help carry out simple everyday tasks without much thought or attention. Habits, in short, are automatic behaviors that we have previously learned. 

It becomes easier and easier to do the things already programmed into the brain, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, drinking enough water. The trouble comes up when your brain wires unhealthy habits, like negative self-talk, for example. So how do you change those less desirable habits? You need to rewire!
To create a new habit, you need to rewire old brain neural pathways and create a new response to triggering situations. That requires mindfulness; a conscious awareness of your own brain's behaviors and patterns at the very moment that they occur. That way, you can change those habits in the direction that you want.

Changing subconscious habits into mindful actions 
Research from Duke University discovered that more than 40 percent of actions people perform each day are based on habit rather than conscious thought. With this in mind, neurohackers change habits by paying closer attention to those behaviors that happen in the unconscious. 

According to Headspace, meditation practices like focused attention or visualization meditation can help develop the level of awareness to understand your thoughts. Sit in quiet reflection. Observe thoughts as they arise. At first, you might feel overwhelmed. But with practice, you can begin to notice patterns. 

If sitting still isn’t your thing, try movement meditations to help build awareness of your mental chatter. Yoga teaches you how to control your breath and how to control your stress response. Each movement in a yoga practice is guided by the breath. This level of concentration gives you the opportunity to escape a busy mind and drop into the body. When your practice is complete, you’ll end in Shavasana where you lay on the floor in silence and allow these mindful movements to guide you into a meditative state, 

Martial arts, like qigong or tai chi, can also help you to establish willpower, which plays a huge factor in breaking old habits and creating new ones. These ancient traditional movements focus on taking control of the mind to gain ultimate self discipline. Why not give it a go and see for yourself? 

Below the conscious mind lives the subconscious; a deeper mental space that hosts what you have previously learned and engraved into our mind.  Using mindfulness practices, like meditation, martial arts, and yoga, you’ll build a deeper awareness of the subconscious inner workings of your own brain. With this, you can “hack” brain patterns, train thoughts toward positive circuits, and slowly develop healthier habits over time.

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