Mind Hacks

“Learning never exhausts the mind”
Leonardo da Vinci

I have many weaknesses. I struggle to engage in conversation. Having to call up someone triggers a strong resistance in my brain, so I avoid the phone and use email instead.

I do have some strengths though.

Like I can remember dialogs from my favorite movies from 20 years ago.

I am good with numbers. For example, I memorize that a trip takes exactly 43, and not 45, minutes. I am precise in obsessive ways sometimes, which infuriates my wife.

To overcome my weaknesses and gather new incredible strengths, I am on a never ending quest for brain hacks. The type of mind tricks that give you fast results with limited effort.

Overall, I haven’t been very effective though. I have mostly learned through trial and failure, in my relationships and at work. And trust me, I had a few.

Occasionally, I would read a book that changed my perspective on life. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success from Carol Dweck, Who moved my cheese by Spencer Johnson and What the CEO wants you to know by Ram Charan come to mind.

6 months ago, I switched gears and I started binge reading. I read and skimmed through 30 books in one month. When I said I can be obsessive, I mean it.

Binge reading can be painful and I don’t recommend it. I thought my head was about to explode. Since my brain couldn’t take all the information in one go, I took plenty of notes.

Coming out of the experience, I am glad to report I survived. My head didn’t explode. In fact, it was a useful journey and I have picked up a good amount of brain hacks.

Something inside me clicked. Since then, I have kept reading, hungry for new tips and insight into our lives. I strive to become a better person.

Here is what I garnered through my quest. Let me share with you 8 Mind Hacks that Give You Instant Results.

  1. Become an idea machine.

Become an idea machine by Claudia and James Altucher was one of the first books I read during my binge reading month. It teaches a simple daily routine, but its results are quite extraordinary. It completely shifted my mindset.

First I realized I can be creative and come up with original ideas. When I set my mind to it, I can generate solutions to many problems I encounter. And later on, I became able to generate tons of ideas on the spot.

In fact, I did my 10 ideas a day exercise a few minutes ago and could come with 10 in about 2 minutes. It’s not the case everyday but I’m usually fast.

Why don’t you start doing it today? Come up with 10 ideas on any topic of your choice every single day. And if you want more inspiration and lists of topics to get you started, you can always get the book.

  1. Be decisive

Any time I have to make a decision, I ask myself this question: Does this bring me closer of further away from my goals?

Answering this single question makes me a lot more focused on doing what is important. It brings my life in perspective instantly. It allows me to un-clutter my life.

It is a simple principle, but its impact is real.

Small consistent steps in the same direction create momentum. And momentum will cause big changes over time. It will bring you inexorably to reaching your goals.

This assumes you have set goals already. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

  1. Leverage the Pareto principle

The Pareto principle states that you get 80% of your results from 20% of your work. That means you can completely re-engineer your life and activities if you follow this principle.

This principle has been popularised in several books.

Two in particular stand out: The One Thing by Gary Keller and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. They train you to extract the essence of your life, what matters to you most. And then to focus on those things.

Finding out the 20% of activities I need to focus on first and foremost has taken a lot of pressure and stress out of my life. It gives me focus. I don’t have to run around like a headless chicken any more.

Simple, but powerful.

  1. Start with why

Most people have goals. But sadly, very often they don’t have reasons for achieving their goals. Or at least not strong ones.

This usually results in people giving up before the finish line.

The antidote to not achieving your goals is to have reasons. That means starting with why.

To illustrate, let’s say your goal is to lose weight. To find your reason for losing weight, the question to ask yourself would be: Why do you want to lose weight? And the answer might be: To be more fit.

Then you have to dig further until you have found the fundamental reason for losing weight.

That means asking: Why do you want to be more fit? It could be to increase your chances to find a partner. Or because it is endangering your health.

Asking “why” questions systematically will lead you to your reason. In the example above, the fundamental reason you might end up with could be: to live longer, or to be happier in a healthy relationship.

Having strong reasons gives me tons of motivation to pursue my goals and makes each goal more meaningful. It also filters out “weak” goals, that I will just drop. It’s another way to un-clutter.

This brain hack comes from 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd, Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko.

  1. Focus on solutions, not problems

Winston Churchill said: The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. A slight rephrasing of the quote translates to: Focus on solutions instead of problems.

This is another shift in perspective, simple but very effective. As soon as I started seeing the world with a solution-focused mindset, I became confident that I could get out of wherever I had put myself into.

So I encourage you to systematically flip the coin from problem to solution anytime you face difficulty.

And if you struggle to find solutions, remember this quote from Thomas Edison: When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.

This hack doesn’t come from one book in particular but is repeated in several books.

  1. Let go of what you can’t control

One of The Success Principles states: Take 100% responsibility for your life. Although the latter holds true, a derived hack I learned is to let go of what I can’t control, instead of obsessing about it and getting worried.

Letting go has lifted a big weight from my shoulders. And it gave me more energy to focus on what I can control.

Why don’t you give it a try?

  1. The power of habits

Habits are both simple and powerful. Creating a new habit requires effort and typically takes 30 days.

But once it is in place, it changes your character. You become a different person.

Habits don’t require much effort to maintain, they are mostly “automatic”. They reside in your subconscious. That means you can build a new habit on top of a previous one and progressively raise your standards and what you can achieve.

This is a powerful concept. Understanding it means you can literally build mountains.

Habits have served me very well. They are not an instant hack per se, but they give very quick results nonetheless. And…habits define you.

Habits are explored in details in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

  1. Taking if further: The miracle morning

Taking habits further, I started Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning a couple of months ago. The Miracle Morning is a daily ritual that consists in building several habits in one go. In that sense it’s a more demanding concept than creating a single habit.

In essence, 6 habits are chunked together in this morning ritual: Meditation, Affirmation, Visualisation, Exercising, Reading and Writing. Each habit you build results in concrete changes in your life and the way you see the world. It may sound like an exaggeration, and I was skeptical at first, but I have seen the results so I can vouch for them.

Studies have shown the benefits that meditation, reading, writing and exercising can bring in your life. They don’t need to be proven any more.

Through affirmations, I have experienced a true shift in my mindset. My confidence has raised. And the beliefs I had on what I can achieve have changed.

I will admit that visualization hasn’t been as effective on me, but its benefits defer from one person to another.

I do the full Miracle Morning every working day and a light version of it on Saturdays. It is a more demanding commitment than the other brain hacks, but its benefits are proportional to the investment.

Brain hacks do what it says on the tin: they provide quick and lasting results. A single idea can go a long way.

Through the lens of a new insight, you can re-explore your life and your perception of it. Often you will re-discover the truth of an idea later in life.

Brain hacks are also personal. Your experience with the hacks above will be different from mine. But as we perceive the world through our brain, any shift of perception can result in a big change.

I hope this list will inspire you to change your life for the better. It has certainly changed mine, in a short while. And the journey goes on.

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