BookReview #16 - Mind Hacking By Sir John Hargrave

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Give me a book that talks about the mind in a conversational tone, with technology as a recurring theme. Give me a book that shares practical ways to train your mind, with strong tested principles and a treasure trove of descriptive stories that drive it home. This. This is the book.

It took me a while to read this book, and it had nothing to do with the book. I’ve had an insane schedule the past few months, and life has been happening so it’s been hard to write, and maybe even harder to read. If I read this book at a go, it probably would take me a couple of days, because it is my type of book.

I like self help books. Bite me. I like books that teach about the mind and how to understand it better as an organ. Books that teach how to know better, be better and do better. I think the mind is an absolutely amazing creation and i want to keep learning about how to manage/hack/use it to be better.

Some people aren’t fans of self help books and i get it, really. If you don’t really practice it, I imagine it's actually just repetitive fluff. But personally, my relationship with self help books have been overwhelmingly positive. I more often than not, actually practice what is written and i think that’s where the real value add is at.

Talk is definitely easy and no one changes their life by just reading a book, they do however - by putting to practice consistently what they’ve read if they are solid, effective principles.

There are books I read growing up which shaped the way I view the mind, and also helped me learn discipline at such an impressionable stage in my life (Thank you Brian Tracy!). Brian Tracy's book, No Excuses taught me the tenets of discipline that i still apply to this very day.

So, where do I begin with this book - Mind Hacking? The name sounds a little corny, but from the first page, when the author writes “Hello World” as a programming reference, I instantly knew i would like this book. Sir John Hargrave, walks us through his journey of being an alcoholic and constant doper and how he was able to rise above his addictions, and build a life he loved using some mind hacking techniques. This is what he shares in this book alongside many fun stories that buttress his point. I have to say - he is an amazing story teller.

Fun fact: Did you know, that Thomas Edison was Nikola Tesla's boss, and their rivalry created the DC and AC standards of electricity?

For me, the most profound re-discovery reading the book was the realization that we all have negative loops, and that they can be self -fulfilling and very specific. Identifying them can be interesting- because when translated into words they are so destructive. Imagine the effect of repeatedly playing self debilitating loops in your head, unconsciously. yikes.

Through this process, I identified a few of my negative loops, and oh boy - let’s just say I'm glad to be re-writing my code, and programming a few more positive loops and unwinding my negative loops.

The book uses tried and tested principles, but goes one step further to deconstructing the whys and the hows in a bit more detail. I like this, and it does this with technology as the underlying theme. The user, and super user. The buggy code. The book talks a bit about building good habits, and also talks about self awareness in a way I haven't read in other books.

What were you just thinking? - Is an example of an exercise, where you could go meta on your thoughts and check in on what you were just thinking every now and then and guiding your thoughts to where you want them to go. Especially when they spiral into loops. This exercise has revealed the most interesting things for me. I encourage you to practice it.

Here are a few excerpts from the book I like:

On Crazy Thoughts (#yourthoughtsarenotalwaystrue)

"..In a similar way, your life is a thought experiment. We have seen that our mind is constantly feeding you a stream of thoughts, most of which you can accept without question. We can burn a lot of CPU cycles on these thoughts, which our mind spins into elaborate stories some of which are downright crazy!”

On Negative Mental Loops

“...Our minds are just like that hill, the constant repetition of our negative loops cuts deep mental grooves, and it’s natural for our minds to “lock into” those grooves, even when the negative loops are self destructive”

Gervais; On Mental Simulations

"We need to get a platform in place, that allows fear to be a part of it, to be comfortable with it, even to have fun with it, and that allows us to master it. That's how to thrive in situations we are not proficient in. Fear is really central to what we do"

On #Visualisationisnotenough. You have to mentally see yourself do.

"The researchers concluded that, by itself, "visualizing success" decreases our motivation to actually do the work that leads to success. Students who ran mental simulations, on the other hand, showed better planning skills and less anxiety at the test time"

On training your mind

"Your mind is like a child. You need to condition it by continually reinforcing what you want it to do, not what you don't want it to do. If you think, i don't want to feel anxious anymore, or i don't want to fail at work, you are just defining the absence of the negative loop. It doesn't work to just cut out the problem code; you have to re-write it"

I recommend this book if it is your type of book, and it's totally fine if it isn't.



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