Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Daysby John Hargrave
Have you ever wished you could reprogram your brain, just like a hacker would do to a computer?
Mind Hacking allows you to improve your mental habits, learn to take charge of your mind, and banish negative thoughts, habits, and anxiety. It lays out a simple yet comprehensive approach to help you rewire your brain and achieve healthier thought patterns for a better quality of life. It hinges on the repetitive steps of analyzing, imagining, and reprogramming to help break down barriers preventing you from reaching your highest potential.
You Are Not Your Mind
“To master your mind is to master your life.”
When you close your eyes and think about your mind, you will see that you can observe your own thoughts and think about it objectively. This shows that there is a mind and then an observer of the mind.
While watching a movie, you evaluate the actors, appreciate the cinematography or analyze the music initially, but you quickly get lost in it, losing your perspective. You forget to analyze the movie because you’re in it. Your mind is like the movie. Just as in the movie theater, there is “you” watching a “movie,” in your own head, there is “you” watching your “mind.”
In a computer system, an ordinary user is someone who has limited access to a computer program, while a super user is someone who has increased access to the inner workings of a computer program. Similarly, in mind hacking, we are trying to log out of our user mode and log back in as superusers to unlock special powers and features of our brain.
To get superuser access, we need to practice meta-thinking, which means thinking about our own thinking. We have to analyze the sequence of our thoughts, the drive behind our emotions, and how they affect our lives.
Actions to take
Your Mind Has a Mind of Its Own
“Those who multitask are doing nothing fast.”
Our minds naturally tend to be restless and to think constantly, going from one thought to another. This can be observed when you are trying to quiet your mind.
Within a few minutes, uninvited thoughts will come, occupy our attention for a while, and then disappear, making a place for other unnecessary thoughts. Your mind does not want to sit still and obey your commands.
In addition, the temptation to let the mind wander is incredibly overwhelming. It’s as if our minds have been misbehaving for so long that we have tuned out the ongoing thought and are content to live with the craziness.
The torrent of information and technology is depleting your attention span without your knowledge. Because of the unmonitored use of technology, we have developed several bad habits such as installing time-wasting apps, leaving concentration-interrupting alerts, and jumping at text messages, emails, and friend requests, making our minds even less disciplined.
Multitasking is among the worst of these habits. This means doing several things badly at once. Multiple studies have shown that you’re slower when you switch between tasks than when you do one task repeatedly, and you grow less and less efficient as the tasks become increasingly complex.
Even when we know multitasking is bad for us, we keep doing it because it is addictive. We cannot resist the temptation of pulling out our phones while waiting in line, or we can’t help but check our email for the last time before getting into bed. The addiction to multitasking fragments our attention, making us less productive, less capable, and less efficient.
Actions to take
Developing Jedi-Like Concentration
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”
You are certainly aware of the power of concentration. A moment of reflection will probably show you that your best work, strongest ideas and deepest insights come from moments of concentration when your mind is calm, clear, and focused.
You can think of your attention in two ways. First, you have “voluntary” or “top-down” attention, where you choose to direct your mind. Second, you have “reflexive” or “bottom-up” attention when something catches your attention or when you are being distracted. Sometimes this is useful, such as when you hear someone call your name in the crowd.
The significant challenge of our time is to strengthen our “voluntary” attention while weakening our “reflexive” attention. To do this, we need to develop our power of concentration, which involves two components: reclaiming attention through reducing distractions and retraining your mind through concentration exercises.
Reclaiming attention involves taking an inventory of all the avoidable distractions surrounding you and eliminating them. These are lifestyle changes, usually small and incremental, that add up to a huge difference over time because they help keep you focused daily.
Retraining your concentration involves a specific set of mind games that will help you calm the mind and harness its power. Your success with mind hacking will depend on how seriously you take these games and integrate them into your lifestyle.
Actions to take
Debugging Your Mental Loops
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so badly, work on your mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
Like software, our minds are also programmed with loops. Think back to how we were as babies. It’s as if our parents got a new computer with nothing installed on it. Turn it on, and they got a low-level configuration menu that tells the newborn how to eat, cry, and sleep.
Over the years, we learned some basic skills, such as sensory input, rudimentary cause, and effect, walking, running, speaking in complete sentences, and simple emotions. We discovered it through trial and error and parental guidance. This programming was ingrained in our minds through simple repetition and reinforcement.
The most powerful loops were the ones making up our self-image and worldview. For instance, if we came from a safe, stable home, we probably grew up seeing the world as a safe and welcoming place. In contrast, if we came from a chaotic, broken home with repeated cases of lying or abuse, the world would become a disturbing, dishonest place.
As with the low-level loops of code running on our computer, these loops can be so deeply embedded that they’re difficult to detect. They run everything, yet they’re invisible. It is because they are self-fulfilling prophecies: if our loops tell us we’re good with people, we’ll probably seek opportunities to meet more people, and through simple practice, we will be good with people.
Once you observe your mind closely, you’ll find these mental loops control everything you do. When our mental loops are reasonably well designed, our life runs smoothly with minimal pain. Pain is an excellent indicator that we need to examine our loops. Thus, improving the quality of our mental loops involves tracking down the faulty thinking that is causing us pain.
Actions to take
It’s All in Your Mind
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Our brain constantly feeds us a stream of thoughts and spins them into elaborate stories. Every time you imagine something, you are repeating your mental loops. With time, these loops become deeply held beliefs, shaping your decisions and life. Ultimately, your loops become self-fulfilling prophecies: if you think you’re no good at running, you won’t run; therefore, you’ll be no good at running.
Our mental loops keep us trapped in the prison of our mind with invisible walls, convinced that our current reality is the only reality. We take physical reality at face value, but underneath, there is a world of ideas: the true reality. Our personal reality starts in our imagination. Before you produce something, you produce it first mentally because your mind is the workshop for your life.
The limitations you have placed on yourself exist in your mind. You have within yourself your own reality distortion field. What you consider “possible” and “impossible” for yourself are your mental loops that can be reprogrammed. You can find the boundaries of what you consider possible and consciously widen them through your imagination. Using imagination, you can think more positively to create your own reality distortion field.
Actions to take
Your Best Possible Future
Most people have a general sense of what they want out of life, but they’ve never taken the time to imagine it. Instead of captaining their own ship, they float wherever the waves take them. How is it that something as important as our future, which should matter above all else, gets so little attention? Simply because imagination is difficult.
When people try to imagine their best life, most of them see a series of blurry images flashing through their minds. If their mind is fed with more questions, each question brings a series of images, but it’s hard to hold on to any of them, as they’re instantly replaced with something else. Their mind keeps wanting to change the subject, making it difficult to focus on the object of their imagination.
Imagination is the blueprint of reality. It provides us with a mental workspace where we can dream, develop, and refine the ideas that will eventually shape our physical world. It is the same way a blueprint is real to the finished building.
Actions to take
Reprogramming Your Mind
“A positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook, and belief that you can do something great means you will do something great.” - Russell Wilson
Several activities can help you reprogram your mind:
Write: Writing is a gateway between the world of mind and the world of matter. First, an idea is only in our mind, with no physical expression, but when we write it down, that idea becomes a thing. Writing your tasks aims to change a negative mental loop into a positive one as you progress in a particular activity.
Repeat: Repetition is key. When you repeat your goals daily, you set your expectations accordingly, and you start to observe situations that can help you achieve those goals because the constant repetition of our goals acts as a lever, creating a chain of cause and effect. For example, if you’re repeating your goal of losing weight and someone invites you to a kickboxing class, you see it as an opportunity, not another way to embarrass yourself.
Simulate: Mental stimulation happens when you play a detailed movie of what you want to achieve, working through all the problems, roadblocks, and obstacles in your mind. There is a difference between imagination and simulation.
We use imagination to picture the ultimate goal, while we use simulation to picture how we’ll get there. For example, if your goal is to find a cure for cancer, run a mental simulation of going through years of training and education, research, making critical partnerships and discoveries, then the clinical trials, and, finally, success.
Collaborate: A computer by itself is powerful, but it becomes more powerful when connected to other computers. The same is true of our minds: they become even more powerful when we connect with like minds. This is known as the networking effect.
Wikipedia is a classic example of the network effect: the more people collaborate on articles, the more articles get created, and the more people are attracted to write even more articles. The more we consciously connect our minds with the minds of others, the more we achieve these powerful network effects.
Act: You will have to do the work to accomplish your goals. You are more likely to succeed if you break down your primary goal into a series of tiny goals. For example, if you can’t make it to the gym regularly, try going for a walk at lunchtime.