Brain Operating System: The User Manual for Your Mind

(Editor’s note: This article is from a past issue of Brain World magazine. If you enjoy this article, please consider a print or digital subscription!)

Yes! Our brains are operating systems. If you want to understand how they work, author, and educator Ilchi Lee suggests thinking of the physical organ as hardware with thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and preconceptions constituting the software that evokes our daily life experiences. It’s hard to deny that our brains are similar to computers, which originated thanks to our amazing brains in the first place, as did the user manuals that accompany them — they proved to be immeasurably helpful for many of us.

Our brains can make a lot of what we imagine eventually become reality. First, we think of something, and then we figure out how to make it happen. Much of this ability is rooted in the so-called power of intention — a concept widely popularized by “The Secret,” published in 2006, although the idea has actually been around for much, much longer. When we learn how to control our thoughts, intentions, and behaviors, we can take control of our brains and, in effect, our lives.

One way to do so is by adapting Ilchi’s Brain Operating System (BOS), which you can think of as a user manual for the mind. There are only three simple rules to follow, so don’t sweat it, and let’s get started.

1. Wake Up and Pay Attention!

Pay attention to life’s details; after all, they make up the whole picture. As life takes you forward, make sure to be conscious of how you handle various situations and encounters. Take the time to discover who you are and what makes you special, and then apply those gifts to making the world a better place. If you are aware of your surroundings and the general flow of things, you’ll notice an abundance of opportunities where your unique abilities can be applied, benefiting others and, above all, yourself.

2. When you choose it, it will happen.

Thoughts become things when you chose them all the way. You might want to start with choosing things that inspire you. Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” The famous philosopher was right. If you choose to spend time on things and people that inspire you, you’ll discover a new sense of purpose, strength, creativity, and a host of other benefits. Given, it takes effort to achieve almost any goal, but something doesn’t come from nothing, and the benefits you’ll gain from the experience are worth it. Work is good, but accomplishing your dreams is better.

3. Use Positive Information to Affect Your Brain.

If you truly want to understand the underlying connections that exist between the body and the mind, just think about the nature of psychosomatic disorders; certain physical conditions are made worse by mental factors such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Alternatively, people who have positive outlooks and are not affected by these negative mental conditions tend to have stronger immune systems and healthier lives overall. Not to mention happier ones.

Focusing on the positive makes letting go of the negativity a much easier process. Doing so allows the mind to be free from bothersome and harmful thoughts, which, in turn, makes you healthier (both physically and mentally) and more likable — not just to strangers but mainly to you. Usually, this last step takes a bit of effort, as learning to reprogram your thoughts is not something you can accomplish right away. You can try practicing meditation and mindfulness; once you succeed, you will gain the ability to take control of your life.

If you seek to be a happier and more mindful and fulfilled person, we suggest applying this manual to refine and reboot the operating system that is the brain.

(Editor’s note: This article is from a past issue of Brain World magazine. If you enjoy this article, please consider a print or digital subscription!)



  1. The brain does have an operating system. Unfortunately, the current science does not look at the brain at the system level, rest aside operating system level.

    In detail: Anything that has multiple parts which work collectively to reach common goals has to be driven by a system. Such multiple parts cannot work independently and still reach common goals.

    This fundamental fact is not taken into consideration by brain sciences today, which study various aspects of brain’s workings in great details, but do not treat it as one integrated system.

    The only account to demonstrate the entire human brain as one integrated system is Dichotomized Operating System Model (DOS Model), a functional model of human mind which is based on the mechanism of Natural Selection proposed by Charles Darwin in the year 1859 in his book “On the Origins of Species – By Means of Natural Selection”.

    Natural Selection works on the premise that nature selects, i.e. favours, organisms for survival based on their inheritance of characteristics that allow them to survive and reproduce better than other organisms of their species that do not have such characteristics.

    Continuous addition and optimization by favouring better and better survival and reproduction characteristics in every passing generation for a period of millions of years has resulted into organisms accumulating a high number of dynamic and highly optimized characteristics favouring survival and reproduction based on their environments and ecosystems, which has been responsible for the human beings to develop in a highly optimized manner.

    The model reveals the fact that the process of natural selection is not only responsible for physical, but also mental development, as it has the same physical basis and is a part of the same goal-driven activity.

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