I only review books that have blown my mind, helped me grow and taught me things I couldn’t possibly have figured out for myself.
My reviews are bulleted for easy consumption.
You can buy this book here:
REASONS I ADORED THIS BOOK:
(I’ve read it 3x and made copious notes on Evernote which I dip into frequently, so you get the idea. I first read it on a sunlounger last summer, when I had the headspace to take in its lessons, and it proved a beautiful gift to myself to work through the tasks Vishen sets).
- Vishen is a computer scientist, so he’s set out to deconstruct and codify how to achieve an extraordinary mind in a really logical way.
- I loved his argument that SO much of what we accept as our culture, customs and ‘rules’ are in fact ‘Brules’ (bullsh*t rules), passed down and accepted unquestioningly by us, often in our formative years. We absolutely should question everything and evolve beyond Brules that don’t serve us. After 14 years of convent education, this resonated with me a lot!
- He puts forward a great proposal for consciousness engineering – literally engineering our reality rather than accepting it passively. In his Com-Sci fashion he calls this the interface between you and your ‘culturescape’. I’m writing another post on this but in short:
(1) Most of our models of reality are inherited BUT
(2) they become real because we treat them as real, so
(3) we can switch out bad or outdated models of reality for ones that serve us better / are more relevant / healthy.
(4) We should think of these as our operating system. THEN
(5) we can install our systems for living – think of each as a great software package. These can be constantly updated as we find a better diet / workout / meditation practice etc
- His ability to elegantly assimilate two philosophies I’ve always felt conflicted with each other: dreaming big, and being happy in the moment. He does this with a beautiful concept called Bending Reality. He argues that it’s possible to have a bold vision pulling you forward while being happy in the moment. You can find happiness in pursuing your vision, not just attaining it. This has helped me a lot to balance my natural goal-orientation with gratitude and the desire to be more present.
- His idea of creating a ‘blueprint for the soul’ which comes from asking yourself 3 questions: (1) What experiences do I want to have in life? (2) How do I want to grow? (3) How do I want to contribute?
- Finally, I love Vishen’s differentiation between means goals and end goals. He finds a lot of traditional goal-setting to be dangerous, driven by society’s expectations and also more of an means to an end than an end in themselves. Eg – I want to get into Harvard, I want to make £1,000,000 a year. It’s the end goals, which are often emotions (I want to have wonderful human connections) that matter and which often have happiness baked into their pursuit.
Writing all this makes me realise I want to read this book again very soon …
10 FAVOURITE QUOTES I TOOK AWAY:
If you don’t have time to read the book, enjoy these soundbites! If you do have time, my hope is that these quotes act as an inspiration and motivation to delve deeper.
“Ideas, memes, and culture are meant to evolve and change, and we are best served when we question them. We know intellectually that this sort of change happens, yet billions of us cling to self-defeating rules from the past that should not exist in today’s world because technology, society, and human consciousness have simply evolved beyond them.”
“Your tool for influencing the world and creating your own growth is a practice I call consciousness engineering. Think of it as the interface between you and the culturescape around you. You decide what to let in or reject. You’re engineering how your consciousness is shaped and influenced.”
“Replacing outdated models of reality is essential. Our models of reality do more than just create our feelings around an event or life in general. To an astonishing extent, they seem to influence the reality of the world that we experience every single day.”
“The single most effective model of reality you can adopt right now is the idea that your models of reality are swappable. You do not have to continue believing and seeing the world through the lens installed within you in your younger years.”
“Humanity is flying way under its full potential simply because we do not educate for the whole or complete human being. We educate for just a small part, a slice, a fragment of just what’s possible for us.”
“When you replace disempowering models of reality with empowering ones, tremendous changes can occur in your life at a very rapid pace.”
“Conventional spiritual growth advocates talk about the need to be “present.” I believe that being present is only part of the story. Happiness in the now grounds you in the present. But you need bold dreams pulling you forward, too. Extraordinary people intend to leave a mark on the world.”
“Dreams, visions, aspirations, goals—call them what you will—these are essential to an extraordinary life. I call them forward momentum. When life doesn’t hold meaning for us, it’s like living in the desert, parched for water … Every extraordinary mind I’ve ever met—including those mentioned in this book—dreams boldly and unapologetically.”
“The difference between a means goal and an end goal is one of the lessons that I wish more people could learn earlier in life … End goals speak to your soul. They bring you joy in and of themselves, not because they confer any outward label, standard, or value attached by society … Means goals are the things that society tells us we need to have in place to get to happiness.”
“There is a great myth in spirituality today: that in order to be spiritual, we must resign ourselves from the world. In other words, to be spiritual, one must avoid big goals, ambitions, and wealth. Rubbish. I believe the most spiritual people in the world today are those who are doing things to push the human race forward.”