Mr. Data’s guide to habit hacking your brain and life
Greetings fellow andriod, and welcome to your positronic brain! I, Lt. Commander Data of the U.S.S. Enterprise, have the distinction of training you in the proper and full use of your state-of-the-art synthetic brain, specifically focusing today on the technique of ‘habit hacking’.
Your positronic brain comes fully equipped with the ability to rewire itself, should you find that you are exhibiting thoughts or behavior counter to your intentions and desires. This innate ability of habit hacking operates on the basic evolutionary principles of ‘neuroplasticity’, an ability which our human counterparts also share.
You may find, as I have through my years of fascinating interaction with humans, that you wish to alter certain aspects of your brain and behavior functioning, allowing for more overall satisfying encounters with humans.
Though I do not recommend installing an emotion chip (unless you are feeling particularly adventurous and your colleagues are incredibly patient), I highly recommend becoming fully functional in the operation of your own brain physiology.
In this article, I endeavor to guide you through a simple 4-step process that will teach you how to identify, interrupt, and reprogram any unhelpful neural patterns and behaviors into helpful ones.
Following this, I enumerate several ways to accelerate this reprogramming process, creating more powerful and lasting results in less time. I have observed that humans seem to value doing more things in less time, and thus this second section is included especially for them.
In other words, your brain will not distinguish between new habits that simply change your behavior, and new habits that bring your behaviors into greater alignment with what is most meaningful to you.
This is where the practice of self-inquiry has a crucial part to play, and I have been informed to transmit this message from the League regarding self-inquiry:
Only pattern new habits that are in line with your truest passions, excitements, dreams and purposes. Take the time necessary to clarify what your truest self looks, feels, and acts like. Only then, does life hacking lead to life satisfaction.
Understanding the challenge of habit hacking
I have found this is due to the subject in question becoming attached to their old habit and identity.
Though this did not make sense at first to my logic programming (why would one hold on to something that did not benefit one?), I came to understand that this phenomenon is due to the preference to stay in the familiar, even if that familiar place is painful.
This phenomenon happens regularly in humans, but be aware that it has also been observed in androids.
Understand that as you take action on the steps below, you will experience what I have called ‘identity inertia’; a feeling of moving uphill or ‘against the current’. This will not last forever.
As you continue to practice this process, your actions will build a counter-momentum, reflecting an identity more true to your intentions and desired habits.
Habit Hacking your cerebral circuitry
Step 1: Recognize Unhelpful Habits and Perspectives
Without recognition, conscious change is impossible. By taking time to deliberately recognize unhelpful or limiting habit patterns and perspectives, you interrupt the continuity of the pattern in question, allowing for a different possible outcome.
Note that recognition practice may at first feel artificial–this is to be expected. With consistent practice, recognition soon becomes natural and intuitive.
Examples of areas to practice recognition: stressful emotions, unconscious muscle/body tension, intense body sensations, destructive behavior, repetitive/negative thoughts.
Step 2: Reset Your Brain and Body
Often in the moment of expressing an unhelpful habit or perspective, the physical body has entered into a ‘sympathetic state’, what is generally referred to as a ‘fight-or-flight’ response among humans. This state is stress inducing and highly reactive, reducing ability to choose.
It is necessary in these moments to be able to reset your ‘neuro-physiology’ (your brain-body functioning) from this neural hijack to a ‘parasympathetic’, or ‘rest-and-digest’ state.
Recommended neuro-physiological reset techniques: deep & slow breathing, and tensing and releasing specific muscle groups.
You may also use scents, music, images or videos that help you to relax and calm your body and mind.
*For more on sympathetic and parasympathetic training, join the League to receive the ‘Stress and Negativity Transformation Training’
Step 3: Redefine Your Perspective
Having stopped your energy from expressing in a reactive, unhelpful way, you must now take a moment to gather your focus and energy.
Utilizing your advanced positronic imaginative functions, consider how your most resourceful, most empowered self would see this situation. How would this version of yourself behave here?
An example of a redefining a perspective: ‘Exercise is not worth it, and I am not good at it anyway’ changes to ‘I feel good about myself when I exercise, and it is something I can keep getting better at.’
Step 4: Redirect Your Action
Now is a critical moment in this process: you must direct your focus and energy through your newly redefined perspective. Taking deliberate action sets this new pattern deeply in your neural pathways.
The action you choose may be anything, as long as it reflects this new perspective and behavior.
Accelerating your reprogramming
Through much experimentation, I have found that by combining certain approaches, positronic habit hacking results more quickly through less effort and with more lasting results. Utilize the various factors below to your benefit.
1. Focused and Clear Message
When in step 3 of habit hacking, use simple and clear statements, making it as easy as possible for the mind to understand and focus on the new desired perspective and behavior.
Consider this classic expression of a human phobia: ‘Spiders are scary!’ It is simple, obvious and direct. Utilize this same approach, but in its positive mode.
Example: ‘Exercise feels great!’
2. Positive Emotional Intensity
In my experience, this is one of the most critical components of successful habit hacking.
Put succinctly, this is skill of emotional intelligence: the ability to select and express a given emotion on command. In my experience of humans, this proves to be their most challenging aspect of habit hacking.
***Though generating any positive emotion has show to accelerate habit hacking, certain emotional states seem to result in greater impact. The two that seem most effective are feeling grateful and feeling deserving.
Example: Generating strong feeling of gratitude for attaining greater health and wellness through exercise.
By activating multiple physiological systems at one time, a clear message is sent to your positronic brain that this new habit is important.
For instance, creating positive emotional intensity (accelerator 2) for a clear and focused message (accelerator 1) will create a compounded and synergistic effect.
Some examples of physiological systems: physical posture, facial expression, voice, imagination, inner dialogue, external images, physical movement, music, positive emotion, behavior.
4. Immediate Positive Reinforcement
To truly solidify the new neural connections in your positronic brain, create a release of dopamine into the body immediately after step 4 of habit hacking.
To do this, simply think or do something that results in an increased experience of pleasure.
Remember, many things can create a pleasure response in the body, and each of these things has impact and result.
The ones I suggest most highly due to their ease and availability are: standing and breathing in direct sunlight for up to 20 minutes, simple exercise for up to 20 minutes, laughter, and generating a physiological state of gratitude and appreciation. Others include small rewards, good sex and buying something new.
Again, be aware that each method of dopamine release has an ongoing impact to manage.
When considering habits, humans often think first and foremost of repetition. Yet, it appears last on this list.
This is because the more effectively you follow the four steps of habit hacking, and the more skillfully you use the first four accelerators, the less repetition becomes necessary.
Investigating for yourself
Now, it comes time for you, fellow android, to embark on your own journey of discovery. Speaking from my own experience, one may consider and calculate many possible outcomes, yet simply trying out the technique of habit hacking will yield rich and unanticipated results.
I encourage you to begin by choosing one old unhelpful habit that you wish to repattern, and one new helpful habit that you wish to establish. Use the method described here for a week to two weeks, and share your results.
If any questions remain for you, please do not hesitate to express them below this article, and I will respond to them when I am not attending to Starfleet duties.
With all positive intentions, Lt. Commander Data
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