Changing Habits of the Mind – What Thoreau Knew about Neuroscience


“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we must walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, naturalist, philosopher, and mindful guy

This quote beautifully illustrates how we can change troublesome habits of thought through mindfulness.  By coming back to the present moment again and again, refraining from judging the wandering mind, we can regain control over our thoughts, our nervous system, our life.  The real question is, how did Henry David Thoreau know so much about neuroscience?  This is a rhetorical question of course.  Thoreau lived long before we new about neuroplasticity and our ability to change our thought patterns and the structure of our brain, not just as young children but throughout our life.  But Thoreau was a well-known contemplative, who studied the nature of his native New England as well as Eastern philosophy.

I will try to apply Thoreau’s quote to my life.  We are moving this summer, and I’ve been thinking over and over again what a drag it’s going to be, how I don’t have the time or the energy, and how moving is going to cut into our summer fun.   I wonder what would happen if I thought over and over again how refreshing it will be to clean out all my closets and simplify my life?

What thoughts do you think over and over? and how do they get in the way of or enhance your life?  Please join in on the conversation.

For more on this topic, check out this amazing article by Martine Bachelor on mental habits.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!


Subscribe today.

Discover The Everday Mindfulness Toolbox. If you are looking for practical tools that you can integrate into your everyday life – at home, work, or elsewhere – then look no more! You need the Everyday Mindfulness Toolbox.

One-time donation of $10

Subscribe Now

Your subscription supports the maintenance and content on If you already subscribe, THANK YOU!


  • Convenient one-time donation. No need to renew.
  • Unlimited access to the Everyday Mindfulness Toolbox – viewable on any device
  • Instructional videos that guide you through short, practical mindful practices.
  • Access to our guides to practical mindful tools – ways to recenter and ensure you find your balance daily
  • Cancel at your convenience.

Good Karma: One-time donation

We love spontaneous support. Your donation stokes the journalistic and creative fires! Make A Donation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam