John is coming out with a new book called Mindhacking (download and use here!), or as he puts it, a user’s manual for the mind. With mindhacking, John asserts that you can get over anxiety, childhood fears, getting angry in traffic, or general “negative loops” that you’ve programmed into your mind. Then, you can replace these self-defeating thoughts with positive encouragement, which can amplify your belief in self and subsequent performance.
So you’re interested in mindhacking…what’s the first step? John tells us that the first step to mindhacking is to be aware that you aren’t your mind. That is: your mind can think something, but you don’t have to agree with it. You can just watch or observe your mind working away:
This is the first step to mindhacking: awareness. John draws a parallel between our mind and a movie. Just how you can get lost in a good movie, you can also get lost in your mind. Good movies and plots can draw you in and get you to feel emotion; for instance, how do you feel when your favorite character in Game of Thrones is killed off? Just like in Game of Thrones, you can be drawn into the details and happenings of your life—just be sure to be aware of them.
Imagine a world where attention is the most valuable resource, where spending time and a moment’s notice on anything count as spending your attention.
Except that imaginary world is the real world you’re living in. Time is money, they say. And if this is really the case, take a look at where you’ve been spending your attention. Have you been on Facebook? Instant messaging services? The variety of emailing lists you’re subscribed to? Wouldn’t this attention be better spent on growing that side business, learning a new language, or exploring a new hobby with your family?
John brings up another point about attention—you have a fixed amount of it per day, and it diminishes as the later it gets in the day. So it makes sense to use your attention for the major decisions of the day regarding business and your relationships rather than on minor decisions like what color shirt to buy. John points out that Steve Jobs subtly uses the attention economy to his benefit—Jobs always wears the same jeans and turtleneck.
He’s probably not a suit guy, but Jobs has bigger fish to fry than worrying about his attire for the day. Hence, Jobs already knows what he’ll be wearing everyday—he doesn’t want to spend a minute of his valuable attention on a small decision.
Studies have shown that parole requests are less likely to be granted later in the day , when it’s easier for a judge to reject the request than putting in the mental effort to evaluate the request. (Likability fam, we hope you’ll never be in the situation to have to use that bit of info, but if you do—keep in mind the attention economy and request for parole in the earlier parts of the day!)
If you want to win back your valuable attention and time, John recommends investing one hour to take inventory stock of all these attention draining things (Subscriptions to email lists, instant messaging, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, and so on...). Then, shut down the ones you can afford to lose.
Perhaps Facebook is important to you for keeping up with friends and planning events, but what if you don't use Skype that often? Shut it down. Haven't posted on Twitter a whole lot, and you don't get a lot of value from reading tweets? Shut it down, and save yourself both the time and mental effort required to read through process them! It's a little, but it adds up over time.
In his book, John recommends several ways to play games with your mind—to increase your awareness. Here are some of the ones discussed in this episode:
- The Five Why’s. Ask yourself “why?” five times to get to the root of the problem. It’s from there you can start addressing the problem.
- Awareness points. Throughout the day, ask yourself the question “what was I just thinking?” If you’re able to actually recall (harder than it seems), give yourself a point. Tally up the points at the end of the day and see how you do everyday! This will help you become aware of your mind, rather than losing yourself in your thoughts.
- Concentration training. Similar to the above game. Spend 20 minutes in the morning focusing on your breaths. When you notice your mind thinking, redirect your thoughts to breathing and give yourself a point. Not only will this meditation calm you down and get you focused for the day, but it will also test your awareness.
Stay tuned and stay awesome!