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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

Do you struggle with overcoming bad habits? Do you find it difficult to stick with an exercise routine and constantly find yourself back where you started?

If so, what would you think if I told you that you could reprogram your brain and break bad habits similar to how a computer programmer programs code? Sounds crazy right? Yet, it’s not.

Similar to programming computer code, it is possible to reprogram deeply ingrained habits. Computer coding is a perfect metaphor for writing, hacking, or reprogramming our own instructions. We see this when we compare computer coding to habit formation. Think of trying to break bad habits and form new positive habits. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit remarked,

What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure – that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it becomes much, much easier to change.

So what exactly is computer coding, habit formation, and how can we reprogram our deeply ingrained habits?

What is Coding?

Coding is a finished set of instructions known as a program. We must write a code in a specific way for the program to work. In essence, we must write code in a language for which a computer can understand it. Many different computer languages exist, such as: HTML5, CSS, C, C++, Python, and JavaScript.

Think of our life as a finished set of instructions. In order to reprogram it, we must write our own code in a way that will change our bad habits. Essentially, we must find a reward system our mind and body can latch on to.

Vomputer code is similar to human DNA and it operates exactly like the code in computer software. Juan Enriquez informs us,[1]

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Sequencing DNA decodes its programmatic intentions through its relationship to a combination of four letters of our alphabet: A, C, T, and G.

DNA is a self-replicating material present in all living life-forms and carries our genetic information. Tom Bunzel demonstrates the similarities in his book DNA is Software, Who “Wrote” the Code?  by placing a sequenced genetic code side by side with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is the code for a web page.

    Coding as a Metaphor for Writing Instructions for Life

    My intent here is not to ask who or what wrote our life code (or even how it is done). My intent is to demonstrate that computer programming language (code) is a metaphor for life. The computer program is our life, where the computer code is our habits.

      We can change our habits and switch genes off and on through epigenetics. We know that contemporary geneticists are able to switch genes on and off using DNA internal software. Essentially, they are copying and pasting code.[2]

      Moreover, coding is writing instructions for computers, where a finished set of instructions is a computer program. Life is no different. Just as coding is writing instructions for a computer, our daily actions and habits are writing instructions for life. Learning to code will create a better computer program, so why not learn your code to build a better you?

      Coding (Habit Breaking) Instructions

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        Charles Duhigg writes that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop” which is a three-part process.[3]

        First, we find the cue or trigger informing our brain to go into automatic mode. Second, we identify the routine, which is the behavior itself. Third, we identify the reward, which is the thing that makes our brain remember the “habit loop” in the future.

        Let’s examine how Duhigg used the “habit loop” to break his habit of going to the cafeteria and buying a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon.

          Step 1: Identify the routine

          Similar to understanding the structure and components of computer code, Duhigg writes that we must first understand the components of our loop.

          Step 2: Experiment with rewards

          We use specific inputs when we code, so why not change the inputs to see if we get a different output. Similarly, Duhigg experimented with his reward by adjusting his routine to see if it would deliver a different type of reward. For example, instead of walking to the cafeteria, he walked around the block.

          Step 3: Isolate the cue

          Duhigg says that we can ask ourselves (and record our answers) five things the moment an urge hits us in order to diagnose our habit. These questions are key to hacking our code (habits).

          1. Where are you?
          2. What time is it?
          3. What’s your emotional state?
          4. Who else is around?
          5. What action preceded the urge?

          Step 4: Have a plan

          Duhigg found once we figure out our “habit loop” we can shift our behavior. This is similar to rewriting code.

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          “Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD.” – Charles Duhigg

          Following Duhigg’s advice, we can reprogram or hack our code (habits) by actively making choices. We do this by making plans and a great strategy for this is through implementation intentions.

          If-Then Strategy

          An “If-Then” strategy is no different than computer language. IF you write a code, THEN you will get an output.

          This is where the computer coding // human life metaphor makes the most sense to me. For example, let’s first imagine we are born as a blank smartphone.

            Now let’s visualize two different outputs for a sprite or image on our phone (representing us). This image represents two possibilities for our future life. We can become a healthy and fit person or we can become an overweight and depressed person.

              We must learn to code or write instructions in order to become the healthy and fit person. Essentially, we must learn to reprogram (or code) our life.

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              We can write instructions for our finished program (our life). I have identified specific instructions coded for my life in the image below. These instructions can also be imagined as habits.

              Let’s examine some of the larger blocks of code I have built (where the output has created a healthy and fit person): morning routine, exercise, nutrition, water, knowledge, education, family, spirituality, and employment.

                Essentially, IF we following a morning routine, we can THEN jump start a healthy morning workout.

                IF we exercise, hydrate and eat right, we can THEN look and feel better.

                IF we strive to improve our knowledge and experience a close relationship with our family, THEN we can live a happy and healthy life.

                  More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                  Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                  Reference

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                  Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                  Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

                  5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

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                  Last Updated on January 24, 2020

                  10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

                  10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

                  Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

                  Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

                  Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

                  • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
                  • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
                  • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

                  Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

                  Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

                  Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

                  That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

                  1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

                  I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

                  Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

                  Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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                  2. Be Grateful for What You Have

                  Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

                  Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

                  “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

                  3. Smile

                  Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

                  Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

                  Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

                  Can you smile again?

                  4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

                  Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

                  If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

                  This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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                  Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

                  5. Exercise Daily

                  One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

                  Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

                  ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

                  He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

                  6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

                  Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

                  Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

                  So how do you manage your time effectively?

                  Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

                  “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

                  And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

                  • Monday – Management
                  • Tuesdays – Product
                  • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
                  • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
                  • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
                  • Saturdays – Taking off
                  • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

                  No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

                  7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

                  Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

                  Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

                  Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

                  “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

                  Be intentional about your daily goals!

                  8. Seek Inspiration

                  It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

                  A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

                  Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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                  Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

                  “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

                  9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

                  I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

                  However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

                  10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

                  Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

                  “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

                  It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

                  Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

                  The Bottom Line

                  Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

                  More About Habits

                  Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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                  Reference

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