The Science Behind the 5 Second Rule

UPDATED: February 1, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2017

Your brain is constantly playing tricks on you. The hesitation, procrastination and feelings of overwhelm it creates are designed to keep you safe—but playing it safe means you’ll never grow into the person you want to become.

So what do you do when your brain is working against you? You hijack the system. You take control of your mind to master your thoughts. You can use the 5 Second Rule, a mind hack Mel Robbins uses to stop the brain from fighting decisions. Robbins describes using the rule to boost confidence, fight anxiety and increase productivity in her new book, The 5 Second Rule (available Feb. 28).

“When you start counting five, four, three, two, one—you awaken your prefrontal cortex. You begin the process of changing. You push yourself in a new direction,” Robbins says.

Backed by science, the 5 Second Rule is a way to make new habits stick, Robbins says. In this video, check out these five psychological principles that give the simple countdown its incredible power.

Mel Robbins is a contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author, CNN commentator, creator of the “5 Second Rule” and the busiest female motivational speaker in the world. To find out more, visit her website: To follow her on Twitter: