From Buddha (Zen Buddhism) and Marcus Aurelius (stoic Roman emperor) to every single personal development guru or coach today, there is one piece of advice that comes forward again and again: You become what you think. Changing your thoughts is the only way you can really change your life to a more positive course and it’s the only way to live the good life you really want.
I completely agree with this philosophy, from my own personal experience. If you want to make positive changes in your life, you really do have to start by upgrading your mindset and the way you think. The good news is that you can relatively easily change the quality of your life by upgrading your mindset, even though it takes some time and effort.
Your thoughts are kind of instructions for your future self on what to become.
The bad news is that almost no guru tells you exactly how to upgrade your thinking. Well, it’s time to end that. It’s time for you to get access to all the necessary hacks and tools that can help you live your dream life, simply by more properly managing your thoughts. Welcome to the ultimate guide that will teach you how to upgrade your mindset – to the superhuman version.
- Why thoughts are important and how they shape your life
- Several awesome tools and hacks for upgrading your mindset to the best possible version
- All the know-how necessary to strategically and systematically upgrade your mindset
- Different exercises that will help you make the new mindset updates permanent
- Additional ideas that may speed up and help you properly update your mindset
- Why updating your mindset is only one part of the equation. As we will see, you also need “constant learning updates” to stay superhuman.
- Plus: You can download mindset update article series as a free eBook with several free templates to do mindset upgrades more easily
The only investment you have to make is reading the article and then implementing the tools. It’s almost a zero investment (if we count your time) compared to what you get out of it – an opportunity to live your dream life and become superhuman. Thus we can easily say that it costs you nothing to update your mindset.
It costs you nothing to update your mindset.
This article is really quite long, so make sure you have a few hours of free time, grab a cup of coffee and prepare that your life will never be the same again; because you will turn into a superhuman. The article is divided 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 (this one you are reading now)
- Part 2: How to update your mindset – cognitive and behavioral conditioning and other mind hacks
- 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)
How your thoughts shape your life and why you need to upgrade your mindset
One of the most popular and important quotes in history, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, goes like this: Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values and your values become your destiny. It’s a causal analysis that shows very well how your thoughts shape your destiny.
The problem in this causality or, to be more exact, between your thoughts and your destiny, is that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly – trying to hurt you and hurt others. Drunken monkeys are no good for your destiny, that’s why we say that even your worst enemy can’t hurt you as badly as your untamed mind can.
Nearly all people have extremely poor control over their mind. Their mindset is weak, and consequently negative and destructive thoughts start hindering their lives day by day. It’s impossible to live a positive, quality, peak performance life with a negative mind and a poor mindset. You have exactly 0.0% chances of succeeding in that.
Here are a few examples of tough life situations caused by nothing but a poor mindset:
- Avoiding challenges, giving up easily and seeing any effort in life as fruitless.
- Not listening to the feedback from your environment and using it to act in a smarter way.
- Being obsessed with how much other people make and what they own.
- Shyness, bitterness, depression, isolation, procrastination and feeling like a victim.
- Labeling yourself (or others) with negative labels like “I’m not good with computers”
- Focusing on what you don’t have and on all the problems you have to face.
- Following the goals of others instead of your own goals.
- Feeling stuck, not acting at all and not knowing what to do or which next step to take.
- Engaging in non-productive and useless fights and gossiping.
- Not accepting the things you can’t change.
- …and many other similar thinking patterns.
A poor mindset can really paralyze your willpower and your desire to do things. A poor mindset always leads to suffering, misery and a low quality of life. Poor mindsets like hopelessness, helplessness, overwhelming yourself, jumping to conclusions, self-labelling, undervaluing the reward, perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of disapproval and criticism, coercion and resentment, low frustration tolerance, guilt and self-blame are usually most commonly associated with average, zombie or even depressed and miserable life. And you definitely deserve better.
That leads to one very obvious direction and solution. Only strategic and constant work on your mindset will improve your thoughts; and better thoughts will bring more positive actions, more positive actions will bring more positive outcomes. It’s that simple. Your way of thinking defines your way of doing things and interacting with the world. The better you think, the better your life experience is.
Only developing the right kind of mindset and carefully managing your thoughts lead to personal wisdom, freedom, success and peak performance – in other words, becoming the best version of yourself and living the good life.
By far the best thing you can do for the quality of your life is to cultivate the ability to respond to each moment with wisdom, compassion, generosity, kindness, creativity and responsibility. Towards yourself and other people.
No matter how difficult of a situation you are in, you can always reframe your way of looking at things. You can always find a more positive angle and wiser thoughts regarding a tough life situation, and consequently also change your goals and actions in a way that you have more control over your life. You can always put yourself in a position that enables you to make a step towards a brighter future. But you can only achieve that with the right mindset.
An important fact of life is that the greatest power you always have 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 are happening to you.
There are three ultimate goals you want to meet when it comes to your mindset becoming the superhuman version. You want to:
- Make sure you control your mind and not vice-versa (that your mind controls you).
- Perform a few core updates to your mindset that will make your general way of thinking much better (all the necessary updates are described in this blog post).
- Commit to lifelong learning and constantly improving yourself.
Now let’s dive into the theory and a step-by-step process of how to update your mind to the superhuman version that will lead you to achieving your peak performance in every area of life.
The core upgrades you need for your new superhuman mindset
Unfortunately, there is no single update for having a superhuman mindset. You need to make several different core updates and all of them working together will take your mindset, way of thinking, general outlook on life and quality of decision-making to a whole new level.
Some of the upgrades are based on decades of scientific psychological research, others are more individual experiences of many different people who decided to dramatically improve their lives.
Here are the nine different crucial mindset updates that will take you straight to the superhuman version:
- From the fixed mindset to the growth mindset
- From the scarcity mindset to the abundance mindset
- From negative thinking to positive thinking
- From the problem-oriented mindset to the solution-oriented mindset
- From reactive thinking to proactive thinking
- From suboptimal thinking to optimal thinking
- From egotistical thinking to agile thinking
- Regret Minimization Framework (for bigger life decisions)
- Shutting down your mind
These are the updates you need, so it’s time to make a deep dive into each mindset upgrade to see what exactly does it mean and how you can benefit from it.
From the fixed mindset to the growth mindset
Everything starts with the difference between having a growth and a fixed mindset. This is the upgrade that unlocks access to all other upgrades, this is the one mindset upgrade that makes up the whole difference between living a peak performance or average life. If you aren’t willing to do this update, you can stop reading this blog post right now.
If you have the fixed mindset, you believe that your character and potential are unchangeable, that they’ve been “written in stone” since birth. With the fixed mindset, you assume things are as they are and there’s nothing you can do about it; the only thing you can do is hope for a stroke of good luck from time to time. Why would you then need any brain updates anyway?
A fixed mindset means believing that your abilities, personality and character are determined at birth.
A fixed mindset leads to avoiding any challenges, avoiding any failure, trying to look smart at any cost instead of learning, self-labeling, defensive behavior and blaming others, ignoring constructive criticism, not following your own goals, envy and, last but not least, reaching your plateau in different areas of life very early. With the fixed mindset, you give up early with every challenge you undertake and you see any kind of effort as pointless.
Here are a few examples of thinking based on the fixed mindset:
- Why should I bother, it won’t change anything anyway.
- I’m either good at something or I’m not.
- I don’t like challenges.
- When I fail, I’m a complete loser.
- The success of other people threatens me.
On the other hand, the growth mindset means that you believe in personal evolution and that you can improve your character by working on yourself. In business, the growth mindset is called Kaizen and it means constant improvement. With the growth mindset, you don’t take things as they are, but you know you can always improve them in one way or another.
The growth mindset means believing that your abilities, personality and character can be developed and improved.
Here are a few examples of thinking based on the growth mindset:
- I can learn everything I want to do.
- With effort I improve, learn and grow.
- I like challenges and I want to constantly challenge myself.
- When I fail, I can learn.
- The success of other people inspires me.
A growth mindset leads towards constantly undertaking new challenges, being focused on learning and personal growth, trying new things and learning from failure, persisting through obstacles, minding constructive criticism and feedback from the environment, finding inspiration in other’s people success and achieving personal peak performance in different areas of life with long-term effort. If you have the growth mindset, you are very well aware that effort is the road to mastery.
The difference between the growth mindset and the fixed mindset was introduced by Stanford professor Dr. Carol Dweck based on many years of scientific research. The growth mindset goes extremely well together with the Kaizen philosophy from lean production in business.
Kaizen is the Japanese word for a “good change” (Kai = change, Zen = good) and it means constant improvement or, to be more exact, it means having a system of constantly looking for and implementing improvements. There is always a way to do things better, make them better and improve them, even if they aren’t broken. Including you. In Kaizen, problems are seen as opportunities to improve.
The bottom line of this upgrade is becoming aware that things aren’t fixed and you can improve your life situation no matter how hard it is. You might not be able make yourself 5 cm taller, but you can definitely become smarter, fitter, sharper, more goal-oriented, expose yourself to many more opportunities, and so on. Only with the growth mindset can you become the best version of yourself. Further reading for this brain update:
From the scarcity mindset to the abundance mindset
With the growth mindset update, your brain gets programmed for you to constantly improve, grow and love challenges. You are aware that the quality of your life greatly depends on the effort you put in. You know that you get out of life only what you put in. Okay, it’s time for the next update. The next update targets you starting to focus on what you do have in life and the opportunities that are available to you, instead of being focused on what you lack and how others are luckier than you are.
This update is called the abundance mindset. The abundance mindset consists of three crucial elements:
- seeing all the possibilities the world has to offer in order to create, connect, grow and enjoy;
- knowing that you deserve love and prosperity;
- and realizing that if you’d experience only plentitude in life, it would be boring as hell and you wouldn’t appreciate anything you have at all.
The opposite of the abundance mindset is a scarcity mentality. With the scarcity mentality, you focus on what you lack, how life is unfair, how you can’t get what you want, how it’s never enough, and so on. That isn’t any good kind of focus. The scarcity mentality doesn’t only lead to an impoverished life, it also makes you take malicious actions towards yourself and others.
The scarcity mindset leads to aggressive competitivness and hurting yourself and others, it leads to envy, greed, gluttony, a desire to control people, hating it when other people succeed or even self-castration, procrastination, shyness, depression and isolation. If you focus on the negative in life, you will only get more negative.
This update is quite hard, but that’s why it’s so much more important. Because opportunities always exist, there is always a way to go forward and you always have things that you can be grateful for. The problem is that it’s much easier to become blind to the opportunities than to become aware of your toxic beliefs, feelings and mind focus that block your assertiveness and cause symbolic self-castration or over-aggression.
Here are examples of scarcity thinking and beliefs:
- There is only one right person for me in this world, if s/he doesn’t love me, everything is lost.
- There are so many people living in poverty, so why would I deserve to be rich.
- Happy people are spoiled people who don’t know the hard realities of life.
- I must take away from others to have more in my life, so others will suffer if I take more.
- Nobody really loves me; everyone just wants something from me.
- There are no right job opportunities for me and I don’t have good business ideas.
But all those are nothing but cognitive errors. There are more than 7 billion people in the world so there is no realistic reason why you should suffer in isolation. There are 4,000, billion dollars in circulation and you can definitely contribute to the markets somehow to make enough money. There are 130 million books published so there is definitely one book you would be curious to read. There are more than 190 million companies and many of them your perfect fit to work for. Not to mention 1,200 different hobbies and sports you can do to really enjoy life.
The world is full of abundance; you just have to see it.
When you update your mindset from the scarcity to the abundance one you realize that:
- You deserve to take care of your needs in a healthy and respectful manner
- You focus on all the opportunities you have and undertake the best ones
- You can satisfy your material needs based on win-win situations and providing value to markets
- There are no limits to how much love, creativity and encouragement you can share
- You should use domination exclusively when you must protect yourself and are in danger
- You don’t need to be greedy and you don’t need to control others
One more thing. The abundance mindset doesn’t mean that you should have unlimited material resources in life. It means that deep inside, you feel that you deserve good things in life and go after your goals, focused on the opportunities you currently have – and there are always opportunities, there is always a step you can make towards a better life.
We will soon talk about different tools for updating your mindset. Nevertheless, I can’t stop my eagerness to share with you the actions you can take. So you can do a simple exercise that will help you with the abundance mindset development.
Write down real data and proof of how much abundance there really is in the world, and then face your fears of rejection, abandonment, humiliation, missing out on things etc. Because only fears are stopping you from going after your goals, not the lack of opportunity.
In addition to that, make a gratitude list, have a list of your past accomplishments and a list of things you enjoy, visualize abundance, regularly brainstorm ideas, analyze all the opportunities available to you, develop a greater capacity for love, and be open and tolerant. More about all that soon, but now let’s go to the next update.
- Additional reading: How to develop an abundance mindset
From negative thinking to positive thinking
At this point, I suppose you’ve programmed yourself to constantly grow and focus on the opportunities you currently have. Nevertheless, you may still be hindered by severe negative thinking from time to time. And negative thinking is the worst kind of thinking.
The fact is that you simply can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. You can move forward and be bitter at the same time. But you don’t want that, you want to move forward and be happy and positive. This means that the purpose of this mindset upgrade is to completely root out negative thinking from you.
To evict negative thinking, you must first understand what negative thoughts are. Negative thoughts are also called cognitive distortions. The name comes from the fact that when you think negatively, you interpret reality as much darker than it actually is – you most often see things much more negatively than they really are.
With too many cognitive distortions, you’re simply trapped in living a zombie life, seeing the world as very dark, sorrowful and full of terror. The extent of negative thinking is enormous. Your mood slumps, your self-image crumbles, your body doesn’t function properly, your willpower becomes paralyzed and your own actions defeat you. You start sabotaging yourself and your negative thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So the main question is: what is the main difference between positive and negative thinking? Here is a simple explanation. Positive thoughts are tender thoughts of sharing, connecting and loving – yourself, people, things and ideas. On the other hand, negative thoughts are rough mental energies of excluding, disconnecting and hating – yourself, people, things and ideas.
|Positive thoughts||Negative thoughts|
Now we have a very general and broad definition of positive and negative thinking. Nevertheless, negative thinking can be a lot more dissected in order to easily identify negative thoughts. Based on years of psychological research by David D. Burns, negative thinking comes up in the following different forms:
- All-or-nothing thinking: You think in absolute terms, everything is black or white, there is no middle path. But many times, the middle path is the best path.
- Overgeneralization: You see one negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
- Mental filtering: You ignore the positive sides and focus only on negative things.
- Discounting the positive: You minimize or don’t give any recognition to positive qualities.
- Jumping to conclusions: You assume the worst before even knowing what’s really happening.
- Magnification and minimization: You make small problems big, and big opportunities small.
- Emotional reasoning: You reason exclusively from your emotions when they are negative. But your negative emotions are not solid proof of how reality really is.
- Should statements: You criticize yourself and others because of how things should be and what should be done. You preach to yourself and others with “should” statements.
- Labeling: You identify yourself or others with shortcomings and failures.
- Personalization and blame: You blame yourself for things that weren’t entirely your fault or weren’t your fault at all.
As you can see, all the negative thoughts are very violent and disconnecting in one way or another. Negative thoughts are nothing but your mind going to war with others or with yourself. And you should never go to war, especially not with yourself. Shifting from disconnecting, excluding and hating to connecting, sharing, tolerating and other gentle mental energies can do wonders for you. How exactly to do that, we will examine in the next chapter, but the simple fact is that there is zero room for negative thoughts in the superhuman way of thinking. Period.
Additional reading: Cognitive distortions and negative thinking
From the problem-oriented mindset to the solution-oriented mindset
A big part of what you have to do in life is problem-solving. Nobody alive, now or ever, can live a life without problems. The only people without problems are dead people. You constantly have to deal with problems at work, problems at home, problems with people, problems with machines (computers), problems with yourself and your health, you name it. Problems are a fact of life and there are only two ways how you can approach and deal with this fact.
You can cry or you can be a problem-solver. In the first approach, you’re only focused on a problem that’s pissing you off, you negatively think about “how hard” your life is and when better (problem-free) times will come for you. You bitch, whine and complain, try to get some comfort from other people and hope that problems will die by themselves. Of course they won’t, and sooner or later you’ll have to deal with them. Usually people wait until problems grow so big that they just have to start dealing with them.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
But here’s the catch. You can’t be focused on a problem and look for a creative solution at the same time. You can’t blame others for problems and brainstorm solutions at the same time. You can’t bitch, whine and complain, and think of creative ideas for how a problem could be solved. But the moment you shift your focus from a problem to potential solutions, negative emotions disappear and you can engage your creative mind. So the question is why would you even be focused on a problem in the first place, no matter how hard the situation is.
It doesn’t make any sense. Instead focus immediately on how to solve a problem. That’s why you must always obtain the solution-oriented mindset. You must be like Thomas Edison who tried 10,000 different ways until he invented a light bulb, everything without complaining and feeling sorry for himself. He just learned and looked for new ways how to do things.
Here are a few additional ideas for keeping a solution-oriented mindset:
- Maintain a positive attitude. A walk in nature can help with that a lot.
- Know that problems and waste are only opportunities for engaging your creative mind. Again, problems equal opportunities.
- Always question everything and always look for ways how to do things better.
- Doubt the so-called best practices, there are always ways to do things better.
- Discard any fixed ideas and stay flexible on how you’ll get to the solution. At everything that exists or is only part of your imagination, you can look from a different angle. The most flexible survive, not the strongest ones. That also includes being flexible in your mind.
- Eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary.
- Do things right away and immediately test new solutions and new ideas. You need feedback from real-life situations and make further decisions based on solid data, not solely on your opinion.
- Know that every failure means nothing but being just one step closer to the right solution. Success is a lousy teacher and failure is the best one.
- Seek the wisdom of other people, such as coworkers, mentors, coaches. Never put your ego in front of learning from other people.
Every time you encounter a problem that pisses you off and you just want to start bitching, whining and complaining, pause for a moment. Instead take a deep breath, start managing your emotions and open your mind to creative problem-solving thinking.
Further reading: The difference between the problem- and solution-oriented mindset
From reactive thinking to proactive thinking and superproactivity
When you successfully implement all the mindset updates mentioned so far, your life will already dramatically change to the better. Nevertheless, this superproactivity update takes everything even a step further; a lot further. The main point of this update is to take full responsibility for your life. Complete full responsibility for all life areas. First, let’s look at the difference between the reactive and the proactive mindset.
The reactive mindset means that you don’t take any initiative or make strategic decisions about your life, you just go where life kicks you; and then you react to what happens to you, sometimes with positive, but more often with negative feelings. Being reactive means you have no clear goals about your life, you just hope for the best. But only having hope is never a good strategy.
The reactive mindset is often seen in chosen words like I need, I must, I can’t, I have to, if only and similar. Changing vocabulary to I want, I prefer, I can, I choose and I will is the first step toward a proactive mindset. The main idea of being proactive is to ask yourself what’s likely to happen, and you act accordingly in order to get the best possible outcome. You act before a situation becomes a source of frustration or crisis. You are always one step further than your life is.
Below are the steps for becoming a proactive person. If you want to become one, you have to:
- Be aware that life doesn’t just happen, you are the one designing your life
- Take full responsibility for your life and stop blaming others
- Work hard on developing healthy self-confidence
- Set a clear vision and mission for your life
- Strategically define your life strategy and follow it
- Very clearly define the outcomes and goals you want to achieve
- Analyze your environment for what’s likely to happen in the future, how that influences your life, and prepare several potential scenarios for how you can take advantage of market shifts and other paradigms in the environment
- Strategically choose and build key relationships
- Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst
Nevertheless, you can take your mindset even a step further from proactivity. It’s called being superproactive. Superproactivity means taking full and complete responsibility for your life, including the areas where you expect nature, love, government, church or whoever to take care of things instead of you. You take responsibility for your own life in the hardest areas ever.
But which are these areas (with an example of reactive behavior)?
- Intimate relationships: You wait to fall in love
- Career: You want to do something that you’re passionate about
- Pension: You hope the government will take care of your pension
- Job security: A diploma and a job contract with a strong union backup is what I need
- Raising children: Everyone has kids, so we all just know how to raise kids
- Information consumption: You read what appears on your social network timelines
It’s time that you also proactively take responsibility for these areas in your life. That means getting educated, thinking ahead and building a superior strategy, putting yourself in a position of many options, and following through with your plan while staying agile and flexible. You can read more about superproactivity here.
From suboptimal thinking to optimal thinking
Now you’ve taken full control and responsibility for your life with the right kind of superproactive mindset. The next step and the next update are there to make sure you always go for the best in life and get the best from life.
Everything that isn’t the best way is called suboptimal and everything that’s best for you is called optimal. That’s why we also know optimal and suboptimal thinking, and you definitely want to update your thinking in a way that you employ optimal thinking most of the time.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire
If you want to engage optimal thinking, you have to start asking yourself the right questions. Only the right question can encourage your brain to start looking for the best solutions. “The best” is key in optimal thinking. When you encounter a problem or you have an important decision to make and are looking for a solution, add “the best” to the question you are asking yourself.
Examples of suboptimal thinking:
- Why is this happening to me?
- Why did they give me a task, they know it’s too demanding for me?
- What if I fail and everybody laughs at me?
- What should I do now?
- Which option should I choose?
And examples of optimal thinking:
- What’s the best way to do this thing?
- How can I solve a problem in the best way?
- Which is the best option for me?
- What will lead to the best possible outcome?
You can also replace the best with other superlatives, like: greatest (talents), highest (priority), smartest (way to work), most (profitable, productive, enjoyable, rewarding, important), maximal (output, productivity, time spent together), and so on.
The main idea is that by asking yourself the right questions, you engage the right kind of thinking that will go straight to looking for the best solution for whatever you’re facing. When you ask yourself the right questions, there is no more room for being stuck, depressed or miserable. With the right questions and by putting your creative potential to use, you can always find the best action for a certain situation. Indeed, an incredible and very useful update. The optimal thinking concept was designed by Rosalene Glickman, Ph.D.
Additional reading: Only optimal thinking leads to achieving maximum results
From egotistical thinking to agile thinking
Darwin figured out centuries ago that not the strongest survive, the most flexible ones do. In general, we are generally obsessed with organization, productivity, creativity and innovation – maximizing strength and output. But that doesn’t completely go together with Darwin’s findings. And you know what happened to the strong and mighty dinosaurs.
So in order to have a superhuman mindset, you need an update to optimize your life not only for productivity and creativity, but also for flexibility. Now, this update is a tough one, but it’s also huge and extremely important for a superhuman brain. You see, you are egotistically invested in your beliefs, convictions, goals and needs. And it hurts like hell to be wrong about something or to fail.
Wrong assumptions are the mother of all fuckups.
So many times you would rather live in a lie called “fake progress” than to actually measure your progress and the course you’re on. One big defeat at the end seems much easier to cope with than taking mini small defeats upon yourself from the very beginning, enabling you to constantly adjust you course. Nevertheless, the final big defeat can be fatal, like it was for dinosaurs.
Living in a lie of “fake progress” is represented by things like doing a job you hate, staying with an abusive partner for the rest of your life just because you were in love once, drowning in debt by making wrong financial decisions and investments, suffering from low productivity and happiness levels, and so on. In such a case, you would rather create in your head naïve hopes that things will get better and that this is the best you can do.
If you’re in a hole, simply stop digging.
The idea behind agile thinking is pretty simple. You consciously decide to have two different categories of actions, tasks and activities. They either fall into “the search mode” or “the execution mode” box. You strategically decide when you search for the right thing for you (the so-called fit) and your progress is thus measured only by learning about yourself and your environment. And only when you find your fit you decide to commit and set strict goals.
When you know you’re in the search mode, you don’t have any egotistical expectations and you don’t put in any real commitment. Wrong expectations lead to disappointments and every commitment leads to heavy energy investments, and you shouldn’t be investing before you know what you are truly investing in. So in the search phase you just try, experiment, observe, reflect and learn about yourself and the world. The most important thing is to have no fixed ideas and no expectations at all in this phase.
In the search mode, you then make two important decisions. Persevere or pivot? If something works for you (relationship, job, sport, goal, commitment), you persevere and enter the execution mode. If something doesn’t work for you, you pivot to something else and stay in the search mode. The criteria for making the pivot or persevere decision is the happiness index (positive emotions mean you’re on the right track) and life metrics that are measuring your real progress.
And if something doesn’t work for you and you decide to pivot, you have to make sure you really do learn what works for you and what doesn’t. In such a case, you shouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. That is called validated learning.
Examples of egotistical thinking:
- I finally got a job, I’m such a lucky devil.
- I am so in love with that person, she’s the right one for me.
- I will lose 10 pounds in the next two months by eating less and exercising more.
- There is a crisis in our industry, but I think I won’t lose my job.
- My way or the highway.
And examples of agile thinking:
- I will try several different tasks to see what I’m really good at, develop my talents, prepare a list of 30 companies I want to work for, research them, somehow get involved in projects with them and after gaining real-life experience with a few different companies, convince the best company to hire me.
- Based on my previous relationship experience, I will prepare a persona of my ideal partner, join clubs, hobbies and online dating sites where there is the highest probability to meet a spouse with the characteristics I like, and I will date until I find the best partner for me. I know my deal breakers and I know a relationship has to develop through certain stages for me to know if they’re the one for me (first date, sex, intellectual connection etc.).
- I will try 5 different sports and diets in the next 15 weeks to find the best one for me – the one I like, can really commit to and with which I get the best response from my body (body fat percentage, aerobic performance, energy levels etc.). Then I will permanently change my lifestyle, stick to my perfect diet daily without exceptions, and regularly do a sport I really like. I will do that with the help of a nutritionist and a personal trainer.
- What kind of feedback am I getting from the environment and how could I adjust my actions to get a better result? Are trends/relationships supporting my actions or not, and how can I make sure they support my course of action?
- What should I start doing, stop doing and continue doing to achieve my goal?
You may lie to yourself that you are right and then the harsh reality will sooner or later show you that you are wrong. Or you can admit to yourself, from the beginning, that you are always “wrong before you are right”, decide to experiment and fail a lot in the beginning, but win big in the long term, because you commit to the right thing, to the perfect fit for you. With agile thinking, you make sure you aren’t climbing a ladder that’s leaned against the wrong wall.
- Additional reading: The AgileLeanLife Manifesto
Regret Minimization Framework
If the agile thinking update is quite pretentious, this one is simple. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions and this update is perfect for those situations. Examples of this kind of decisions are whether you should quit your job and start your own business, end a relationship or maybe move to another country. The Regret Minimization framework can greatly help you with that kind of decisions.
It is pretty simple to engage the Regret Minimization Framework as part of your mindset. When you have to make a big important decision, project yourself forward to the age of 80. Looking back on your life, you want to minimize the number of regrets. If you project yourself to the age of 80 and think about your potential regrets, it becomes a lot clearer which path you should choose.
Ask yourself: Will I regret not doing this on my deathbed?
Know that you can move on from a failure or from a rejection, but regret always stays with you. In other words, you can always move forward from a failure or a rejection, but you may regret not knowing. So when you’re facing a tough decision, knowing this principle can help you a lot. Just make sure you’re making decisions based on calculated risk (low risk and huge potential reward), and that you aren’t making any stupid decisions that could destroy your life.
- Additional reading: The Regret Minimization framework
Shutting down your mind
Last but not least, probably the most important update of all – learning how to shut down your mind. The purpose of all the updates until now is to use your mind in a superior way. To make sure that when you think, you think big and the right way – a way to maximize your productivity, achievements, flexibility and happiness.
Nevertheless, sometimes the greatest and the most productive thing you can do with your mind is to shut it down. There are many benefits to learning how not to use your mind and how not to think, and just be. It’s a crucial mental skill if you want to live in the present moment and if you want to be happy.
There are many activities that require you to just be and to just enjoy them, without overly analyzing, planning, reviewing or judging.
Overthinking your life, what you have and what you don’t, what other people think of you, how was your performance etc., will definitely make your life completely miserable. Applying all the updates we’ve talked about will already help you a lot to not get stuck in overanalyzing, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to let go and stop thinking. Here are a few such examples:
- You usually stop enjoying relationships the moment you want to control them. And you want to control them because your mind goes crazy and starts imagining many painful things. Shut down your mind when you are with the person and just enjoy the relationship.
- You can’t have the best sex of your life if you don’t let go of your mind and thinking, and just enjoy the present moment, being yourself with all your heart.
- When you are exercising, shut down your mind. Enjoy the exercise, relax, stop thinking and overanalyzing. Yes, have a superior plan, do learn how to perform exercises perfectly, but also learn to let go when necessary.
Every skill you want to master in life at some point, you have to do it subconsciously and naturally, without any thinking and overanalyzing. Like driving a car. You can do that by deliberately shutting down your mind and enjoying life in the present moment. There are two ways how to do that.
First, find activities where you naturally shut down your mind. Those are different things for different people, but the most popular ones are doing different kinds of sports, cooking, making love, dancing, listening to music etc. Find at least one activity where you can let go of your mind and observe how you behave and how your inner state looks like when your mind is shut down. Then practice transferring the same inner state to other tasks, activities and life areas.
The second thing you can do is to consciously command your mind to STOP.
- When you find you are overly analyzing yourself, people or situations, say STOP to your mind and choose to just be instead
- When you find yourself over-assessing how you or others are performing, say NOW STOP to your mind and choose to just do it instead
- When you find yourself overthinking life, say STOP to yourself and choose to just enjoy life and smile instead
- When you find yourself being too judgmental, say STOP and choose to just love instead
Of course you have to know very well when it’s time to use your mind for an analytical task, when for a creative one, when there is a better way to think with all the updates mentioned, and you have to know when it’s time to shut down your mind. These are all the tools at your disposal, and you have to use the right one in the right situation. It’s more art than science, but with some experimenting and testing, you can get good at it quickly.
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)
Continue to Part 2: How to update your mindset – cognitive and behavioral conditioning and other mind hack tools