There are nine crucial updates that lead to a superhuman mindset and the most superior way of thinking: (1) The growth mindset, (2) the abundance mindset, (3) positive thinking, (4) solution-oriented mindset, (5) proactive thinking, (6) optimal thinking, (7) agile thinking, (8) regret minimization mindset and (9) the ability to shut down your mind when necessary. The important question we will answer in this blog post is: how to press the update button and apply all these updates?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it is with computer updates, where you just click a button, wait a few moments and updates are ready for use. There are a few big differences between updating your computer and updating your brain that you must know. Let’s look at those differences and what’s the best procedure (or process) to upgrade your mindset to the superhuman version.
Before we start, you should know that this is the second part of the article Update your mindset to the superhuman version. Because it’s extremely long, it’s broken up into two parts. You can also download both parts together as a free eBook with many templates and other free files.
- Part 1: The core ways to update your mindset that will make your thinking superhuman
- Part 2: How to update your mindset – cognitive and behavioral conditioning and other mind hacks (this one you are reading now)
- The eBook version if you don’t have the time to read the article now (Part 1 + Part 2)
- Templates, exercise files and other files that come with the article (yes, this article comes with seven different exercise files and templates)
Upgrading your mindset is a process
Updating or upgrading your mindset is a carefully orchestrated process, not a one-time event like pressing a button. To update your mindset, it takes time and a lot of hard work. You have to do what 90% of people aren’t willing to do – sit down, take a piece of paper, write down your thoughts and slowly reprogram your mind with an analytical approach. The carefully orchestrated part of the process means that you have a superior strategy in place and a system for how to do it.
It’s impossible to update your mindset if you aren’t prepared to consistently write down your thoughts, analyze them and talk back to them with a more rational response. The only way to update your mindset is to talk back to yourself.
Every process you follow goes through certain process stages, and upgrading your mindset is no different in this regard. You have respect the stages and avoid skipping them. When you follow a carefully orchestrated process, you first set strong foundations on which you can build your brain’s supercomputer.
Here are the mind upgrade process stages:
First you need empathy to understand what is going on with you
First, we have the empathy phase, where the name already implies that empathy towards yourself is the most important issue. You must become more aware of your feelings, thoughts, reactions to stimuli from your environment, and how everything is interconnected.
You also get the main idea about what kind of dominating thoughts go through your mind and what kind of updates you need the most. You always start updating your mind with gentle energies towards yourself, and understanding what’s going on in your head and why. You must first know where you are, so you can then take the first step towards where you want to be.
When new thoughts slowly become sticky
The second phase is the so-called stickiness phase. In this phase, you slowly start updating your mediocre thoughts with more superb thoughts and kind of thinking. Your focus is on the stickiness of new, better thoughts. In this phase, you fail many times and so you need a lot of discipline and persistence.
It’s a hard and tough process of ditching the old ways of thinking, taking over new kinds of mindsets, and consequently also making the first different decisions with the new kind of thinking. The biggest mistake you can make in this phase is to give up. You have to be persistent enough that your new thoughts slowly begin to “stick” with you.
What happens is that sooner or later, you don’t only see changes in the way you think, but also in the way you act and make decisions. You can see the first positive results of the mind updates.
The next phase is called virality, which means that your new superb thoughts become viral and eat up all the rest of mediocre thinking. There’s a tipping point in the process, when you don’t have to struggle anymore with updating every single thought, but things become quite natural to you.
The new thinking habit is finally formed and slowly you manage to completely override the previous way of thinking and acting. When you reach this stage, there is no way of going back anymore and you become so aware of different mindsets that you can already see the mediocre thinking in other people as well as help them with updates, if you want.
Scaling new thinking all the way to the last thought
The last phase is “reaping the rewards phase” and the scaling phase. You clearly see all the rewards you are getting from your mindset updates and thus you scale this kind of thinking in every life area to the last possible thought. Now you’ve become a human with a superhuman mindset.
When we talk about the process, you need to have realistic expectations about how long the process takes. At least a few years are usually needed to implement all the updates. But you have enough time. If you really want it badly enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.
|Phase||Realistic timeframe for completion|
|Empathy phase||2 – 4 months|
|Stickiness phase||4 – 12 months|
|Virality phase||2 – 4 months|
|Scaling phase||4 – 12 months|
|Total for complete upgrade||1 – 3 years|
The key is to really want it badly enough. The best thing ever is to be born and raised with that kind of a superhuman mindset. The next best thing is to start working on it today.
Toolbox for upgrading your mindset
Understanding the process is important, but it’s not enough, of course. We still don’t know how to do the updates. You need a toolbox, and we’re going to open it in just a moment. But before that, let’s just overview once more what the process of upgrading your mindset is. You follow the process by sitting down several times every day, taking a piece of paper and using an analytical approach to change the way you think and interpret the world and what’s happening to you.
Let me emphasize that one more time – you have to stop several times a day, take a piece of paper and do different mind exercises. That isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes an enormous amount of time, effort and dedication. So again, you must want it badly enough. Nothing great was done overnight, neither Rome was built nor can your superhuman mind be. When you do sit down and decide to do mind exercises, you have to choose the right tool from your toolbox.
There are several tools to use that can help you do the upgrades. You have to enter the search mode, test all the different tools and find out what works best for you. You can, of course, combine several different tools to accelerate progress. Your job is simply to play and measure progress.
How to upgrade your mindset?
The toolbox for upgrading your mindset consists of the following tools:
- Paying more attention to your emotions and thoughts
- Mental biofeedback
- Observing your body language
- Happiness index
- Observing your environment
- Emotional accounting
- Cognitive reframing
- Cognitive reframing exercise
- Holding your frame
- Other cognitive exercises to accelerate your mindset updates
- Asking yourself the right questions and digging deep
- 5 whys
- Self-reflective journaling
- Creative Visualization
- Positive affirmations
- Transformational vocabulary
- Optimism ratio
- Breathing exercises
- Changing your body language
- Asking yourself the right questions and digging deep
- Behavioral conditioning and accounting
- Behavioral conditioning (operant or instrumental conditioning)
- Behavioral accounting
- The final updates – increasing your competence level
There are two general approaches – cognitive and behavioral. The cognitive approach means that you first analyze your emotions and thoughts, then reframe them in a more positive way. More positive thoughts lead to a better mindset and more positive actions, and more positive actions lead to a more positive life and results.
The second approach is the behavioral one. This approach means that you change your behavior, and by changing your behavior you change your actions and consequently your mindset also follows by becoming more positive and of a higher quality. The best way is, of course, to use both approaches.
Paying more attention to your emotions
It’s extremely hard to constantly identify the quality of your thinking and your thoughts one by one, because there are just too many negative thoughts and cognitive distortions in the beginning and new ones are constantly appearing. Nevertheless, you can easily start to examine your way of thinking when mediocre, negative or any other toxic thoughts concentrate.
How do you know that there is a concentration of bad thoughts that lead to a poor mindset? Your feelings.
Your (negative) emotions are nothing but a consequence of the way you look at things – at yourself, the situations you are in, what is happening to you, other people etc., and by your internal dialogue about all these things (focusing on positives or negatives). If your understanding and the way you look at things is accurate, your emotions will be normal. If your perception is twisted and you look at things with the wrong mindset, your emotional response will be abnormal – negative.
Thus the first step is to sit down and closely examine your thoughts when you have severe negative feelings. Every bad feeling you have is the result of a poor mindset and all self-defeating emotions are caused by an irrational internal dialogue. It may sound unbelievable, since we are dealing with the mind updates (brain) and not feelings (heart), but your emotions are where you start updating your mindset.
If you try to analyze and overwrite every single negative thought in the beginning, you would simply go crazy. But what you can do is to start by only counting your negative thoughts to be more aware of them and analyze what goes on in your head when severe negative thoughts concentrate.
Every time you are upset, depressed, angry or you are experiencing any other kind of severe negative emotions, sit down take a piece of paper and write down all you thoughts. All of them, without any censorship.
Mental biofeedback – Count the number of negative thoughts
The easiest exercise to start with is the so-called mental biofeedback from cognitive therapy. The idea of the exercise is to start counting your toxic thoughts – all the thoughts that aren’t aligned with the superior mindset we’ve talked about. Just counting, nothing else. This way, you become more aware of your toxic thoughts and you’ll be even more surprised at how many of them you have and how poor your thinking and mindset probably are.
You simply buy a counter to click or draw a line in a notebook every time you catch yourself with a thought that isn’t part of the superhuman mindset. After counting your negative thoughts for a few days, you can slowly take a step further.
- Step 1: Only count toxic thoughts for a few days or even weeks
- Step 2: Count toxic thoughts but also write them down
- Step 3: Count them, write them down and categorize them (what kind of toxicity it is)
Soon you will learn to identify any kind of toxic thinking and poor mentality, and categorize thoughts very quickly. If you follow this (empathy) process for a few weeks, you will learn to identify and categorize thoughts in the blink of an eye. And when you understand something, you can start changing it.
Here is once again a summary of all the different toxic thoughts and categories of poor mindsets that need to be upgraded to a more superior version:
|Toxic mindset||Superior mindset|
|Fixed mindset||Growth mindset|
|Inactive & Reactive thinking||Proactive thinking & Superproactivity|
|Suboptimal thinking||Optimal thinking
|Egotistical thinking||Agile thinking|
|Indecisiveness||Regret Minimization Framework|
|Overthinking & analysis-paralysis||Shutting down your mind|
|Making bad decisions, big and small||Making good decisions, big and small|
Observe your body language
Your inner state, emotions and thoughts are greatly expressed through your body posture. Your body language is a big sign of how good your mindset is. A positive emotional and mental state shows in a smile on your face, straight posture, and slow but confident movements. You take up space and move towards your goals.
A negative emotional state together with toxic thoughts and a toxic mindset shows in poor posture, frowning, eyes directed to the floor, anxious movements, and so on. When you find yourself using poor body language, that’s an excellent opportunity to sit down and analyze what’s happening in your head. Poor body language must become a trigger for doing all different kinds of exercises.
- When you catch yourself frowning, stop and start writing down your thoughts
- When you catch yourself with a sad face, stop and start writing down your thoughts
- When you catch yourself with crossed arms or not looking people in the eyes, stop and start writing down your thoughts, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of the street
We’ll talk about that later, but an additional exercise that can help you update your mindset is the so-called reverse programming. That means changing your body language will help you do and maintain new updates. Positive body language will lead to more positive thoughts.
So when you’re doing updates (following the process with the toolkit), help yourself by paying attention to your body language and change it as you are changing your way of thinking – in a positive manner.
The happiness index
The idea of the happiness index is pretty simple. You have an uncomplicated chart with different indicators showing how happy you are. Every day, when you wake up, go to sleep or while working, you put an indicator on the chart, marking how you’re feeling.
The main advantage/point of the happiness chart is to never forget about yourself or lose awareness of how you’re really feeling, even if you’re very busy. You put yourself first. When an indicator goes below 8, you start closely observing your thoughts and writing them down.
Observe your environment
From my observations, I’ve seen again and again that the environment I operate in (especially when it comes to the closest relationships) reflects my inner state. The main reason for that is that emotions are contagious and we tend to connect with people who have the same energy vibrations as we do. What exactly do I mean by this?
You will always look for an environment that’s familiar to you. If you were raised in a toxic environment, you will try to find such an environment in your adult life. And because you had toxic relationship in your toxic youth environment, you will later look for toxic relationships, especially the key relationships in your life.
Subconsciously, you always look for people and situations that are deeply familiar to you, because you don’t have any other experience. Without any other experience, you don’t have the reference points to look for something else, something more positive.
How people are acting around you usually resonates with your current inner state, even if you’re probably not even aware of it. If you are emotionally stable and strong, you have a positive effect on your environment and make it more stable and strong. A toxic environment will try to make you into a more toxic person as well. It becomes a power struggle of who is stronger. And if you aren’t strong enough, a toxic environment only makes you more toxic.
For example, If I find that my girlfriend is irritated about something, there are two ways of how I can respond. I can calm her down just by being emotionally strong. But if I’m not in such a state, I also get irritated or start talking too much or get anxious or in some other way take over her negative emotions (emotions are contagious, as mentioned). Interestingly, if I get easily irritated, I usually also find out with consistent analysis that my inner state was already irritated before I started spending time with her, I just didn’t notice it. In other words, I wasn’t in emotionally stable state.
If people around you are stressed, hectic, angry, are experiencing any other similar toxic and negative emotions and thoughts or are giving you a headache, take a few minutes off and analyze your inner state. Start the analysis with the premise that the outside environment only mirrors the inside environment and when you sense that your environment is imbued with negative vibes, try to figure out if you’re also in a negative emotional state and why.
If being in a momentarily toxic environment makes your inner state toxic, ask yourself why you so easily overtake the toxic state of your environment. That means your thoughts and mindset were easily corrupted by others. In such a case, you need to be more self-centered, you need to make the superhuman mindset stronger. Nevertheless, observing your environment in relation to yourself is a great way to become more aware of your thoughts and your inner emotional states.
Here’s another important fact when we talk about your environment. A healthy person in a toxic environment will always become a toxic person, sooner or later. In the long term, you can never be strong enough to not overtake at least some vibes from your environment. Relationships and the environment you operate in have a great influence on your mindset, behavior and potential.
That’s why you can often hear advice like “you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with” or “never work for a boss you don’t respect and who is a bozo” and “make sure you work in a dream team”.
And as we’ve talked about in the superproactivity update, you are the one choosing your environment and you are the one choosing your relationships. If you are in an extremely toxic environment and relationships, why don’t you start making better choices?
Now you probably know the answer. You have to update your mindset to change the environment you operate in. That means your current environment also mirrors the quality of your thinking. So analyze your environment and your choices on where you work, who you spend time with etc. and you will better understand your mindset and what needs to be upgraded. I know, it’s impressive how much you can learn from your environment.
“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” ― Horace Walpole
Now you know how to identify your toxic thoughts – (1) analyzing severe negative emotional states, (2) doing mental feedback, (3) observing body language, (4) having happiness index and (5) analyzing your environment. The more you practice, the easier it will be to recognize them. After a few months, it will become natural for you to identify and categorize different kind of toxic thoughts on the fly. The next important question in the process is what to do with all these toxic thoughts.
The answer lies in the so-called emotional accounting (from the cognitive therapy the book Feeling Good). To more easily explain how to do emotional accounting, we will call all toxic thoughts that appear in your mind your inner critic. All different types of negative and other toxic thoughts come from your “inner critic”, the part of your mind that’s dark, negative, evil and has crazy monkeys as his servants.
Every toxic thought that appears in your head comes from somewhere. And it comes from this inner critic. It’s like having a negative, unloving, rigorous grumbler in your head, blocking you from being happy, proud, powerful and going forward.
Calling this negative part of your mindset an inner critic in perfect, because it always finds a way to criticize you, others, the situations happening to you, or it finds a reason why you should feel sorry for yourself, not act and focus on how miserable your life really is – even if it’s not.
Emotional accounting simply means talking back to your inner critic in a very systematic, structured and analytical way.
Emotional accounting is a three-step process:
- After training yourself to recognize and write down toxic thoughts as they go through your mind with different exercises we’ve mentioned,
- in the next step you learn why the thoughts are distorted (you categorize them and analyze how they make you feel), and then you
- practice talking back to them with the goal of developing a more realistic self-evaluation system or an evaluation of the situation you are in.
Talking back to your inner critic is key. To perform emotional accounting, all you need a simple table (just download the template). The table has six columns. Here they are:
- Toxic thought going through your head (automatic thought, self-criticism)
- Type of negative feeling it’s causing and the intensity of it (emotions)
- Categorization of the toxic thought
- Performing a rational response to the toxic thought (self-defense)
- New intensity of the negative feeling (outcome)
- Additional ideas for thinking and acting better
You simply go column by column. When categorizing thoughts, you can only focus on cognitive distortions or all the different mentioned categories of negative thoughts. But keep in mind that you can’t categorize every single thought in the same way. Stay flexible and improve the system so it works in your favor.
By far the most important is the column where you perform a rational response to the toxic thought. That’s the part of emotional accounting you need to pay the most attention to.
Let’s look at an example of the emotional accounting.
- I’m making so many grammar mistakes, I am really poor writer
- Anger, frustration (80%)
- Overgeneralization, self-labeling, fixed mindset, reactive thinking, problem-oriented
- Even if I still make quite a lot of grammar mistakes, I have great ideas for articles, my style is improving and so is my grammar, and I get a lot of positive feedback on my articles
- Anger, frustration (20%), feeling proud of myself (60%)
- The best way to improve my grammar is to have a great proofreader, read as much as possible, and do a few grammar exercises.
Cognitive reframing and holding your frame
The greatest power you always have in life is changing the angle of how you look at things. In the end, the ultimate control you have is the control over your judgments and your mental state or, in other words, how you interpret the things that happen to you.
Cognitive reframing (or cognitive restructuring) is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions in more positive alternatives. A frame is the filter through which you perceive reality, and you can always find a new better frame. It’s an exercise similar to emotional accounting, only with this tool you don’t only describe reality more accurately, you also find a new, more positive context to what is happening to you.
Cognitive reframing is also a type of exercise you should do in a simple table, with three columns, called ABC to remember it more easily (download the template):
- Antecedent: An event that has happened to you
- Belief: An underlying belief and how you see the event
- Reframing: Finding a better mental filter and context
- Consequence: How you feel about the event (a specific emotion(s) on a scale from 0 – 100%)
- Additional ideas for thinking and acting better
The point of cognitive reframing is to find an angle (filter) that can be supported by constructive underlying beliefs, that don’t cause negative feelings and enable you to keep all the necessary personal power in your own hands. Now, the most important thing is that your reframing is still based on truth. You absolutely shouldn’t start lying to yourself or suppress feelings or use the tool in any other negative way. Remember the fake feeling of progress? Make sure you don’t go in the wrong direction.
Here’s an example:
- I just lost my job.
- I’m worthless and nobody will employ me.
- Anger (90%), depression (80%).
And now the same situation by doing cognitive reframing:
- I just lost my job.
- My boss was a bozo, I wasn’t learning anything new anymore, so it’s time to find a better job (that must be the truth backed with hard-data evidence, not solely your opinion).
- Anger (20%), Depression (30%), Anticipation (70%)
- The best way to find a new better job for me as quickly as possible is to write down the names of 10 managers I know, update my resume, prepare 100 ideas for each company and send the documents to managers.
With cognitive reframing, you must turn a problem into an opportunity, weakness into strength (by matching or converting), hurtful actions of others into understanding why they’re doing that instead of being a victim or engaging yourself in fights, and so on. But again, the idea is to turn a problem into an opportunity and ACT, you mustn’t only make feel yourself better.
When you work with frames a lot, you soon realize that things are repeating themselves – how you see them and interpret them. These are called schemas (filters), and they’re simple mental structures we use to organize how we see the world around us – from what we notice to how we interpret things and, in the end, act. We have schemas practically for everything. They also help us with predicting and forecasting. By doing a lot of positive cognitive reframing, you will slowly update your schemas and consequently your overall quality of thinking in all the ways we’ve talked about.
Holding your frame
When you do cognitive reframing you will soon see that your mind constantly strives to slip back into your previous toxic thinking. “Mind monkeys” are like little kids constantly testing the limits and trying to wander off and bite you in the ass along the way. There is always an internal battle when you start updating your mind and the bigger newbie you are at these things, the more you have to fight strong and not give up.
That’s why you need another concept called holding your frame. When you do cognitive reframing and see the reality in a more positive way, hold to it strongly. Don’t let it go for even a second. Don’t slack off; hold your frame no matter what. No retreat, no surrender.
If you don’t stubbornly hold to your new positive frame, you will lose it and you will go back to your previous thinking. So every time your mind tries to wander back to hurt you, consistently hold your new positive thought in your head. You have to be stronger than the “mind monkeys” and sooner or later your mind will give up; and you will be reborn with a completely new mindset and a much happier life.
Other cognitive exercises to accelerate your mindset updates
There are several other exercises that can help you do your mindset updates or speed up the update process. But please note that these exercises are only additional help. Without emotional accounting and behavioral conditioning, it’s quite hard to achieve the same results. Nevertheless, if you are extremely motivated, adding these exercises may significantly benefit you.
Again, you have to test and see for yourself what works best for you. Since this article is already very long, we will only scratch the surface of different principles and exercises, but you can find additional resources and guidance on this blog or in many other books and blogs.
Asking yourself the right questions and digging deep
As we saw in the “optimal thinking” update section, asking yourself the right questions can encourage completely new ways of thinking. By asking yourself the right questions, you can direct your mind into a completely new direction.
So if you do the optimal thinking update properly, the second you catch yourself having toxic thoughts, mindset or thinking, you should ask yourself a question that will lead your mind into finding creative solutions and acting. Download the spreadsheet below to find 50+ questions that will encourage the right kind of thinking.
The 5 Whys method
Another exercise you can do the simple question “why” enough times. 5 Whys is a simple technique frequently used in business to identify the cause of a problem and not only deal with the consequences.
If you want to get rid of the consequences for good, you have to get to the root of the matter. You can identify the real cause by asking yourself “why” several times in a row. It’s a way of identifying your deeper volitions and why you behave in a certain way.
Here’s an example.
- I like geeky superhero movies. Why?
- Because good always wins despite an inoperative formal protective and legal system. Why?
- Because there is “someone” more competent to protect the victim from the bad. Why?
- Because no one deserves to be a victim and be bullied by others. Why?
- Because I know how awful it feels. Why?
- Because I experienced domestic violence as a child.
With this kind of an analytical exercise, you can dig deep to better understand where your thoughts really appear from and what kind of underlying convictions support them. Start by asking yourself “Why do I think like that about this situation?” and then continue asking yourself why? so many times until you uncover the root of the problem.
You can use the same principle to identify many root causes – why you think as you do, why you feel or act as you do, why you behave a certain way with certain people, and so on. You will often find that the root cause of your thinking is something completely different from what you initially thought. Very often you will be surprised at what your real emotional issue is. You just have to be willing to accept the truth.
One really awesome way to be more in touch with yourself and identify the nature of your thoughts faster is to keep a journal. A self-reflective journal is not about your day and what happened, but about your thoughts, your perspective, your feelings, your words, your actions and about the feedback from your environment.
Keeping track of your thoughts and actions can greatly help you with identifying why you acted like you did, what the result of your behavior was and what were the accompanying feelings. Keeping a self-reflective journal is about becoming aware of who you are, your true desires, identifying your cognitive distortions and then reframing them with emotional accounting, and so on.
Make writing the self-reflective journal a part of your morning or evening habits. And when you’re writing the journal, make sure you’re asking yourself the toughest questions possible.
Self-reflection is about asking yourself thought-provoking questions so that you can develop a deeper level of understanding yourself.
The concept of visualization is pretty simple. You use the power of your imagination to create visions of what you want in life and how you will make it happen. You play a movie (or imagine pictures) in your head of what and how you want something to happen. It can be a goal you want to achieve, a performance you want to execute, behavioral changes you want to make, and so on.
You can, for example, visualize your life with your new mindset and that will encourage your new inner state to become a permanent part of you quicker – you can visualize yourself being positive, determined, having a better mindset and consequently making the right decisions. Visualization can also help you with behavioral conditioning, where you visualize your new behavior as part of your new mindset.
Visualization is a great tool with which you can change your internal mental processes, but you must also reinforce it by acting in a new direction. Visualization is definitely a tool that can help you with much more than just updating your mindset. It can help you make an identity shift and boost your self-confidence by clearly imagining the outcome you want and how you will perform to achieve it.
Last but not least, visualization can help you adjust your inner state to a new vibrational level and attract the right people and opportunities into your life. When you expect good, good things do happen to you. That is part of a superior mindset.
Affirmation is a form of positive self-talk. The point of affirmations is to help you think more positively or focus on positive things as well as to purify your thoughts. The idea is pretty simple: you write down different positive statements about yourself and repeat them over and over again. With repetition, they become a part of your new mindset and new thinking. You can also find many examples online.
Affirmations are quite criticized and used as a way to mock the “personal development” community – you know, making fun of someone for looking at themselves in a mirror and repeating how awesome they are. Affirmations are definitely no magical cure, like any other tool isn’t, but you can try them and if they work for you, why not use them.
If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest you buy Louis Hay’s book called Heal your body, find your body’s weaknesses and injuries that you suffer from, and see the probable psychological cause and affirmations that can help you with that. In my case, the connection was quite accurate. But if you don’t believe in that kind of stuff, just skip it. The idea is to try as many tools as possible and then use what works best for you.
One of the huge areas of neuro-linguistic programming is proper use of your vocabulary. Several studies have shown that successful people have a larger and different vocabulary from average. By improving your vocabulary, you can express yourself more precisely, you sound smarter, you can write or dictate more quickly and descriptively, you understand things better and enjoy many other intellectual benefits.
Thus improving your vocabulary can greatly improve the speed of your mind updates. And using the right kind of words definitely reflects a superior mindset; and not only that, using the right words has a big influence on you and how you perceive your life.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you just came from a holiday trip and you really enjoyed it. You can describe the holiday to yourself or to others in various ways, but here are two extremes: “The holiday trip was great.” and “The holiday trip was excellent, awesome and outstanding. I really enjoyed it”.
Reading the second sentence wants me to pack right now and go on holiday. This is how you empower yourself and see your life in the right way. Similarly, you can describe negative situations in a more natural way. Instead of saying “The date was really a disaster, we didn’t find a connection and I think that s/he finds me weird”, you can just say “The result of the date wasn’t that interesting”.
Using the right words (the so-called power words) in general talk is an important part of having a superior mindset. Frequently using power words can greatly help you hold the right mental frame as well as avoid cognitive distortions or thinking in a suboptimal way. To simplify, if you want to be successful, you have to learn the language of successful people and then put it to use.
One great way to update your vocabulary in a positive way is that you simply decide to eliminate certain words and phrases from your vocabulary. These may be phrases like: I don’t know, I’ll try, I can’t, I don’t have money, I have problems, I have to (-> I want to, I get to), but (-> and) and many others. If you consciously stop using these kinds of words, your mindset will absolutely be much clearer and much more positive.
The present use of language can be a fairly accurate predictor of future success.
You can also add more power words into your everyday vocabulary use. Examples are words like absolutely, fantastic, certainly, let’s do it, wonderful etc. It’s no secret that successful people use more powerful and optimistic words than average people. And pessimistic and depressed people use a lot of pessimistic, negative and weak words. So change your words and your mindset will change.
Choose your words very carefully!
I know it’s kind of hard to analyze how good your vocabulary is. Thus, there is a really good exercise you can do to assess the quality of the words you’re using and how advanced your mindset is. In the first step you need to do the following:
- Take the last three articles you’ve read (news, blog post, whatever).
- Open your email client and copy-paste the last five emails you’ve written to a word processor.
- Write down and describe the last two things you remember that you were thinking about, using the same words that were going through your head.
Put all the texts in the same place and print them. You should have ten texts altogether (three articles, five emails, two descriptions).
Now take a red and green marker. In all ten texts, search for positive and negative words. Negative words are words like fear, confused, don’t know, angry, death, concerned, risk, violent, missed, payback, buried, bombard (I found these by opening an online news site). Positive words are words like takes lead, comeback, succeed, adds, new, spark, signed a deal, stunning, beautiful etc. (words from the same online site). Mark all the positive words with the green marker and all the negative words with a red marker.
You have to take context into consideration and, of course, it’s completely your individual estimation if a word is a positive, a negative or a neutral one. However, this is not an exercise that has to be done with mathematical precision, the point is to get a general idea of the vocabulary you use and what kind of information you feed your mind with (based on your infostructure).
Now count the number of positive words and negative words. Then calculate the ratio between positive and negative words with the following formula: Optimism ratio = Positive words / Negative words. If, for example, there are 5 positive words in the text and 15 negative ones, the ratio is 5 / 15 = 0.33.
- If the ratio is higher than 1, the language is optimistic.
- If the ratio is lower than 1, than the language you use and read is obviously too pessimistic and you must work on improving the language you use and the quality of the content you consume.
If you need more input to do the analysis, take more texts. Articles you’ve written, what you post on social networks, the TV shows you watch etc. You can very quickly grasp what you’re feeding your mind with. And you know the rule: garbage in, garbage out.
The most traditional and popular way to train and control your mind is meditation. It’s scientifically proven that meditation helps you a lot with relaxation and taming your mind. Actually, your brain physically changes with regular meditation and increases your capacity for creativity, focus and managing anxiety.
I know so many people who claim that meditation changed their lives, and how they learned to think better and more purely by regularly meditating. You can find many different forms and types of meditation, but for a busy lifestyle, Transcendental Meditation, which you practice for 20 minutes twice a day, is quite popular and probably the best fit. The Headspace app is also a great start.
- Make meditation part of your morning kick-off routine.
Much like there is a strong connection between your thought and body language, so there is a strong connection between your thoughts, feelings, and breathing. If you are calm, focused and in a mindful state, your breathing will be deep, slow, gentle and come out of the belly.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing negative emotions, your breathing will be shallow, fast and come from the upper part of your body. Like you see in the movies when a crisis occurs, people who panic are always instructed to take deep breaths first.
Calm belly breathing = calm thoughts = the right kind of mindset.
It may sound strange, but many people don’t know how to breathe the right way, not only when a crisis occurs but in general. Make sure you aren’t one of them, because that causes a much more stressful life, with lots of negative thoughts and anxiety. Shallow breathing absolutely hinders the right kind of thinking. Online, you can find many resources on why proper breathing is important, but you can start with two simple exercises explained below and then continue with more advanced techniques.
There is a great connection between your posture, general body language, thoughts and emotions. I know this very well, because my body posture was catastrophically bad for years and I’m still working hard on it. And the better posture I have, the purer my thoughts are.
Body language always clearly shows what’s happening inside a person. By changing your thoughts and emotions, your body language changes but the opposite is also true. By positively changing your body language, you can positively influence the way you think and the way you feel. So when you find yourself in a defensive or poor body posture, change it, and you will influence your thoughts more easily.
Do the following and you will positively influence your thoughts by changing your body language:
- Stretch and improve your body posture (straight, shoulders back and down, head up)
- Don’t be afraid to stand tall and take up space
- Stop frowning and put a smile on your face
- Keep your arms relaxed at your side, don’t cross them in front of your chest or put hands in your pockets
- Make eye contact with whoever you are talking to
- Do a power pose if necessary (like Superman or Wonder Woman)
Everything we talked about so far falls under the category of thought conditioning (except breathing exercises and body language, which are somewhere in between). The second type of approach towards a better mindset comes from a completely different angle, we could even say the opposite angle. It’s called behavioral conditioning.
If the thought conditioning approach first takes into account your thoughts with the premise that improving your thoughts should lead to a better outcome, behavioral conditioning suggest you tackle your actions directly, not minding your thoughts at all. By changing your behavior, your thoughts will be forced to change themselves or even if not, the only thing that matters is keeping the right behavior, new habits.
Motivation always follows after you perform an action for a certain period of time.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you want to save more money.
Thought conditioning would mean that you start with your mindset. You first become aware that even if you are currently not a saver, you can become one by improving yourself. Then you tackle your beliefs on why it’s so hard for you to save money and reframe the negative thoughts that come from your beliefs. You may enhance the process by visualizing how you put money into your bank account, and so on. By following a process and changing your thoughts, saving money should slowly come naturally to you. Actions should follow your thoughts sooner or later.
Behavioral conditioning, on the other hand, would simply mean that you don’t even bother with your mindset at all at first. You simply automate paying 10% of your paycheck to yourself first, meaning that 10% of your salary is automatically transferred to your savings account and you don’t touch your savings at all. You force yourself to save money, like an alarm clock forces you to wake up. By doing a new behavior for a longer period of time, you change your habits, your habits change how you see yourself and consequently your beliefs as well, and all that leads to your mindset being updated in the end.
The main idea of behavioral conditioning is that you ask yourself what kind of an outcome (goal) you want and what kind of actions lead to achieving that goal. After you define the actions, you simply apply that to your life. You force a new behavior in your life all the way until it becomes a new habit. You ask yourself three very important questions:
- What should I start doing?
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I continue doing?
Obviously, forcing yourself into a new behavior is nothing but developing a new habit. The general opinion is that you should practice a new behavior for around 30 days until it becomes a part of you and you start doing it subconsciously. The trick is that by practicing a new habit long enough, your mindset also changes.
There are many ways of encouraging a new behavior (habits manipulation), and here are the best suggestions:
- Every time you want to perform an undesired behavior, you perform a new desired behavior.
- You eliminate a reminder (cue) that triggers the desire to perform a bad habit.
- You set up new cues to perform a new desired behavior.
- You increase transaction costs for undesired behavior.
- You introduce rewards and punishments for a certain behavior.
- You set strict limits with carefully defined minimums and maximums.
- You leverage incompatible behaviors. You use competing commitments to your advantage (we will talk about competing commitments in the next chapter).
- You combine different methods.
And examples for all the ways mentioned above:
- Instead of turning on the TV when you pick up the remote control, you decide to go read a book.
- You simply get rid of the TV from your home and forget that it even exists.
- You set up an alarm clock every few hours to remind you to take a break and stretch.
- You delete time-wasting applications from your mobile phone. You have to reinstall them if you want to use them (high transaction cost).
- You reward yourself with a fancy massage for every 10 gym visits you do, and for every gym visit you miss you donate 5 bucks.
- You set up a web nanny and limit Facebook usage to maximum 1 hour a day.
- You wouldn’t want to drive your boss around in a messy car? If you want to clean your car more often, make sure you drive on the next business trip.
Behavioral accounting is very similar to emotional accounting, the main difference is that you don’t approach analysis from the thoughts-emotions perspective, but from a behavior-beliefs one. In the same way, you sketch a table with a few columns and analyze what drives certain behavior. The main idea comes from the book Immunity to Change (the name of the method isn’t the same as in the book) written by Robert Kegan.
Here are the columns in your table for behavioral accounting (download the template):
- Describe the goal you have in your life, with a very detailed outcome you want
- List the actions you do that lead you towards your goal (if any)
- List all the actions you do to sabotage yourself and that goal (every inaction or action can only lead you a step closer or a step further from your goal)
- Identify any competing commitments and fears that lead to sabotage
- Identify internal conflicts and underlying toxic assumptions, false beliefs and convictions that lead to such self-sabotaging behavior
Competing commitments mean that you have a goal, but there is another commitment that is more important to you and prevents you from achieving the goal. These competing commitments are usually strong emotional commitments to the kind of a personality you want to be.
For example, you want to be seen as a fair person or as a smart or funny person, you don’t want to be greedy, you’re afraid of being rejected, you’re afraid of missing out, etc. There is something that prevents you from going after your goal big time.
The key to behavioral accounting is to identify all the actions that lead you away from your goal. In the next step, you try to carefully analyze why you’re doing that and what are the underlying toxic beliefs that drive you to make bad decisions and behave in a toxic way.
What matters at the end of the day is what you do, not what you say, so analyzing your actions can tell you a lot about your mindset and help you discover competing commitments that are often only toxic parts of your inner critic.
Let’s look at an example:
- My goal is to become a better writer.
- I write and read a lot and I have an excellent proofreader that gives me feedback on how to improve.
- I just write sentences as they come. As I write, I don’t think hard enough about whether there is a better way to express something. I pay more attention to quantity than quality.
- I am committed to writing as quickly as possible.
- If I’m not fast, I’m not productive, smart and successful. If I can’t write a sentence correctly the first time, I’m not good enough.
I encourage you to test which one – thought conditioning or behavioral conditioning – works better for you, or maybe with which one you can more easily start dealing with your mindset and updates. Since we are talking about updating your mindset in general, which is a cognitive function, many more words in this article are dedicated to thought conditioning. Nevertheless, you can find many resources about behavioral conditioning online and in books.
What may work best for you, as it does for me, is combining both approaches. Updating your mindset is a lifelong process and you face many different situations in life that require a different kind of approach and a different kind of update and how you get to it. Knowing all the tools in the mind toolbox is thus very important. But before we end, we have one more very important kind of updates to cover.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” ― Steve Maraboli
The final updates – increasing your competence level
Updating your mindset to the right way of thinking is only one part of the equation, only one type of the updates you need. If you know your way around computers, updating your mindset is similar to updating the computer’s firmware. The second part of the equation, the other kinds of updates you need, are competence updates. That’s similar to installing new programs on your computer or regularly updating the programs you’ve installed.
There are several updates you can install besides updating your mindset; I call this increasing your competence level:
- Increasing your creative and analytical capacity and psychological capital
- Developing and regularly using your talents
- Acquiring knowledge – mastering a certain field
- Acquiring skills – abilities to do an activity well or in a practical manner
- Improving emotional intelligence
- Improving social intelligence and communication skills
- Upgrading your values, views and beliefs
- Developing wisdom
- Combining your different competences into T-shaped skills
The higher the level of your competence, the more capable you are. This leads to many benefits – from better relationships and making more money to making better life choices and being wise. For example, the best way to earn a lot of money is to be good at something that’s in high demand and low supply on the market. Becoming good at something that’s in high demand is nothing but a brain update.
Updates like these are crucial for your success in life. In today’s creative society, competences are what markets and people are looking for. The more value you can provide to the markets and in relationships, the better the position you have in life.
Thus make sure that you aren’t making only general updates to your mindset, but that you are also acquiring new competences and putting them to good use. When you combine both, superhuman mindset and many skills that are in high demand, you definitely have the winning combination for living the dream life you want.
You’ve learned something new when you do things differently.
The learning formula
The competence type of updates combined with the right mindset give you the ability to make your brain’s software even more powerful, more capable and more accurate. In other words, you become more intelligent when you regularly update and maintain (lifelong learning) your software (brain’s neurons), and being more intelligent leads to making better decisions and living a better life – the good life.
Learning updates are done based on the following formula:
- The right underlying mindset = Firmware updated to the best version
- Updating your brain (learning) = Download + Process + Apply
Downloading knowledge means getting new information about something – how things can be done in a better way, how something works or functions, how to operate a machine etc. You get a new piece of information that you didn’t have before or is different from your current knowledge.
Processing knowledge means reflecting on new information, connecting it to what you already know, analyzing and deciding what you’ll start doing and stop doing based on the new information, talking to other people and engaging in discussions, sleeping it over, and so on.
Applying knowledge means putting it to use. It means starting to interact differently with your environment. Becoming a better version of yourself, in action. Practically, that means that you put a new skill you’ve acquired to use, stop procrastinating, undertake a new adventure, make better decisions, deepen your relationships, and so on.
Here are a few examples of how you can “download” knowledge:
- Listening to lectures
- Listening to audio books or podcast
- Watching educational videos
- Watching demonstrations
Here are a few examples of how you can “process” knowledge:
- Doing self-reflection
- Talking about a new piece of information with other people and with your mentors
- Doing research
- Planning and doing scenario-based thinking or a cost-benefit analysis
- Group discussions
- Teaching others
And a few examples of how you can “apply” knowledge in practice:
- Having real-life experience
- Changing your behavior and how you do things
- Being in the search mode – trying, experimenting, gathering feedback from your environment
- Teaching others after real life experience – for example, by starting to write a blog
All the things listed above in the “download, process, apply” section are called different learning methods. You can, of course, learn only by reading, but that means only downloading knowledge and it’s rarely enough. Because knowledge is not power, thinking for yourself and applying knowledge is power. You don’t want to only read a book on how to swim, you actually want to try swimming.
So by far the best way to learn new things is to combine different methods listed above. First you download knowledge in one way or another to get educated, to see other people’s experiences and perspectives, then you process it, which means you apply it to your own life situation, add your own ideas and prepare a plan and, of course, then you apply it by doing something new or things differently in your life.
Knowledge is not power. Applying knowledge is.
Make sure you keep your hardware safe and regularly maintain it
We also shouldn’t forget one more important thing regarding your hardware (body, brain) and how to make it more powerful besides regular updates. You can extend the longevity of things and how well they work with regular maintenance. Your body and brain are no different in this regard. Take good care of your body and take good care of your brain.
Here are a few ideas for what you can do for better maintenance of your hardware:
- Protect your brain at all costs – wear a helmet when on a bike, use seatbelts etc.
- Do regular physical exercise – aerobic and anaerobic or at least take regular walks. Make sure you spend enough time in nature breathing in the fresh air.
- Keep your margins high enough, take regular breaks and stretch during the breaks.
- Reduce the amount of stress and anxiety you face in life.
- Get enough sleep every night – it’s the number one thing for keeping your brain healthy.
- A healthy diet means a healthier brain – eat a lot of veggies (especially green ones), have moderate fruit consumption, and eat complex carbs, a high amount of healthy fats, low amounts of sugar and low amounts of unhealthy fats and alcohol.
- Add brain foods to your diet – EFAs, blueberries, broccoli, seeds, nuts, avocado etc.
- Constantly try new things, challenge yourself, travel, talk to new people, never get bored.
- Do a creative task every day – do art, brainstorm ideas, write etc.
- Do brain teasers, games and different puzzles.
- From time to time, play a challenging video game.
- With good time management, make sure you work in the creative flow as much as possible every day.
Among all the ways of “downloading” knowledge to update the “software” that your brain runs, reading is one of the best and most popular ones. Yes, reading is one of the best ways to download knowledge, so make sure you read a lot, every day (here you can find many ideas for how to read more).
Reading opens up new perspectives and angles to you, it enables you to familiarize yourself with how other people see the world, it enables you to acquire new skills, improve your communication abilities and much more. You can understand the world and yourself much better. That’s why most extremely successful people, no matter the industry, read; and they read a lot.
When reading in order to update your software, there are two important things to look for:
The first type of updates are the so-called “aha moments”. You read something and say to yourself, how didn’t I think of that. You discover a new, much greater way to look at the world, interpret something or find a way of doing things. An example of such an “aha” would be – assume there is no ice to break when you want to start a debate with a stranger. You’re already connected to everyone, just show genuine interest in someone and the relationship will start to unfold by itself. There is no ice to really break, hm?
The second type of updates are different. These are no epiphanies, they’re the things you know are true somewhere deep down, but somehow you just aren’t following them. But when you read that truth in different books over and over again, somehow your brains start to take the truth much more seriously, and so your mindset slowly changes and with that, your words and actions change as well. An example would be reading 15 books on money management, where in every single book you read that you should spend less than you earn.
With reading, you can easily get to both types of updates. Exercise is one of the best ways to take care of your body, and reading is one of the best ways to take care of your brain. Make sure that you read a lot and, even more importantly, that you regularly apply the newly acquired knowledge.
Concluding thoughts – do one update at a time
Congratulations! You’ve read a very extensive guide on how to update your mindset to the superhuman version. I really hope you enjoyed it. As you’ve learned, there are many ways for how to improve your way of thinking, so you learned that acquiring knowledge is not enough, you also have to implement it. So it’s time to get to work and do all the homework.
The most important thing is that you don’t try to apply too many updates at once. The philosophy you should follow is “one update at a time”. It takes months if not years to do all the updates, and even then the journey never ends. Constant improvement, including the improvement of your mindset, is a lifelong journey.
Nevertheless, let’s look at a few suggestions and a rough plan for how to do the implementation that will stick with you in the long term. I suggest that in the first week, you start with a simple exercise and then add new ones a week after (or when you feel comfortable to do so). When you add a new exercise, don’t forget that you still have to keep doing the exercises from the previous weeks. You should perform all the exercises in approximately one month, just to learn how to master them.
When you master them, don’t forget about the process and stages (empathy, stickiness, virality, scaling). One thing is mastering the exercises but something completely else is doing them consistently and slowly observing how your mind shifts through the phases. The beginnings are the hardest, and then with time things get much easier. The hard road always becomes easy with time. So follow this plan:
Week 1 – Learning to identify thoughts in general
- Buy a waiter’s pad and start by writing down 5 – 20 random thoughts throughout a day – all thoughts, negative and positive ones. Analyze every one of your thoughts and categorize them (fixed/growth, scarcity/abundance, negative/positive etc.). Only categorize them, nothing else.
- Try to become aware of your inner critic.
Week 2 – Noticing all the negative thoughts that come to your mind throughout a day
- Buy a counter or do lines (|||||) in your notepad and start counting all your negative thoughts.
- Categorize negative thoughts. Only categorize them, nothing else. Don’t be shocked how many of negative thoughts you may have and make sure you try to identify every single negative thought.
- Count and categorize!
Week 3 – Observing emotions and the environment and when negative thoughts concentrate
- Start observing your emotions very closely. Prepare a happiness index for yourself and mark your feelings every morning or every evening. Observe your body language at 5 different times in a day. Mark in your journal if your body language is positive or negative.
- Every day, describe your working and home environment in a few sentences – vibrations, atmosphere, specific relationships etc. Was it stressful or not, was it happy, depressing etc. Try to connect how the outer environment reflects your inner state.
- Observe how your negative thoughts concentrate when you experience negative emotions.
Week 4 – Talking back to your inner critic
- Print out the superhuman mindset helpers on the AgileLeanLife blog – proofs of abundance, list of questions to encourage optimal thinking, Kaizen rules etc. and always have them with you.
- Start doing emotional accounting. At the moment you feel stuck, aren’t performing optimally or have severe negative emotions, stop, write down your thoughts and do emotional accounting, cognitive reframing or any other exercise.
Week 5 and 7 – Adding other exercises
- Experiment how different approaches to thought or behavioral conditioning are working out for you.
- Test different tools to improve your mindset even further – journaling, visualization, affirmations, transformational vocabulary, meditation, breathing exercises and improving your posture and body language. Test each tool for several days and pay close attention to what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Make sure you increase the amount of quality content you read every day.
It will take you approximately two months altogether to master all the exercises. In this time, you should already slowly get through empathy phase. Then comes the hardest phase, the stickiness phase. Please don’t give up. It’s only a test of whether you want it enough. And I believe in you that you do. Even more, you deserve it. Stick to it and it will only get easier.
Do exercises and live a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
See yourself as a life and mindset scientist who strives to strategically and systematically do all the updates. It’s hard to be consistent with the exercises, but it’s also fun and it feels great. Enjoy performing all the exercises and be proud of all the progress you make during the exercises. Again, just make sure that you have realistic expectations.
With the mindset updates, you will soon also see the positive changes in your life and that will motivate you even further to really make sure your brain and its software become the superhuman version. Enjoy the journey and unlock an ability to really live the best life possible.
Last but not least, make sure you regularly read the AgileLeanLife blog for new ideas and quality personal development content, teaching you to become the best version of yourself. If you need somebody to believe in you, you’re always welcome on the AgileLeanLife blog.
As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think right!
Download all the free files, including the free eBook version of this article series
Since this article is really long, you can download it as an eBook, completely for free. In addition, you can download a few templates and additional files that will help you with the mindset update process, also completely for free. Enjoy the content and put exercise files to good use.
List of files you can download:
- eBook Upgrade your mindset to the superhuman version (PDF)
- Template to do emotional accounting, cognitive reframing and behavioral accounting (XLS)
- Catalog of all the different toxic thoughts and detailed checklist for cognitive distortions (PDF)
- Happiness Index template (XLS, PDF)
- Proof of abundance in the world (PDF)
- List of questions to encourage optimal thinking (XLS)
You can download the files below:
- Free eBook – Upgrade your mindset to the superhuman version (PDF)
- Mind upgrade template – Emotional accounting and cognitive reframing (XLS)
- Catalog of toxic thoughts (PDF)
- Feeling Good – Checklist of cognitive distortions (PDF)
- Happiness Index – Template (XLS)
- Happiness Index – Template for print (PDF)
- Proof of abundance in the world (PDF)
- List of questions to encourage optimal thinking (XLS)
Resources and further reading
Resources for this article and further reading:
- Carol Dweck – Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential
- David Burns – Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
- Rosalene Glickman – Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self
- Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Robert Kegan – immunity to Change