Upgrade Your Mind’s Software: How to Transcend Your Current Level of Thinking

Growing up as a high-level swimmer, I discovered at an early age that the results I get in life are proportional to the amount of hard work I put in.letgo

Ever since, I deeply believed that if I worked harder, I’d reach my goals faster and have more of what I want in life.

That belief drove a lot of the choices I made and profoundly impacted how I lived my life.

But what if this belief was actually… misguided?

What if that was just a story I was telling myself… that wasn’t entirely true?

Then I’d pretty much be shooting myself in the foot, every day, without realizing it. Hmmm.

Now think about this:

What if some of YOUR core beliefs (about yourself, others and the world) were false, and actually sabotaging happiness, health and success?

That would suck, right?

This post is about a very powerful (and underappreciated) way to improve the quality of your thinking and evolve yourself.

It’s not “feel good” personal development.

It’s not a quick-fix or a hit of “inspiration high”.

This is deep stuff.

And I truly believe it will give you a whole new way of looking at your mind and improving it…

A Friday Unlike Any Other

This story starts on Friday, September 21st, when I did something I never do.

It’s something that most people dream of doing every week…

No, it wasn’t a crazy adventure in nature, or a pool party with an open bar and models.

It was much simpler than that.

I took a Friday off work.

I gave myself permission to take a day off and recover. During the workweek.

Shocking, I know!

Why did I do it? Because I was tired and feeling a little burned out.

Believe it or not, it was actually hard for me to give myself permission to take the day off (more on this later).

But it was, honestly, a phenomenal decision. It lead me to a major epiphany…

One that changing the way I’m approaching my own personal development.

A Relaxing Day… Turned Major Breakthrough

When I woke up that Friday, I decided to make it the most relaxing day possible.

I lit up some incense and meditated for a long time.

I went for a slow, relaxing bike ride around Boulder.

I stopped by Tonic, an “herban lounge” and drank Kava for the first time.

I read a spirituality book (Conversations with God)…slowly.

I reflected.

I journaled.

I cooked myself a nice meal (my mom’s infamous lentil soup recipe).

I even watched Eat, Pray, Love. (!)

Pure relaxation. It felt good. Real good.

I enjoyed a deeper level of inner peace than I had experienced in a long time. I felt reconnected with my true essence: love, appreciation and grace.

But it was more than just blissed out relaxation. Taking this time to slow down and think deeply lead to a profound realization about how we operate as humans (specifically, how weird we are)…

Why Do We Choose Stupidity?

Albert Einstein has a famous quote that says: “the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result”.

Let’s face it. We are all guilty of this… more often than we realize.

I do it.

You do it.

We all do it.

We resist change.

We go out of our way to keep doing the same things, even when it’s obvious that they’re not really working.

Why?

Because we prefer to stay comfortable doing something sub-par than to temporarily get uncomfortable so we can start operating at a higher level.

This is obviously true of our behaviours. We do the things again and again.

But what I want to talk about today is deeper.

Our beliefs.

Beliefs: The Software of Your Mind

If our brain is like a computer, our beliefs like the software that run on the computer.

Our beliefs (about ourselves, others and the world), whether we’re aware of them or not, affect everything in our life.

If you’ve studied human psychology, you’ve probably come across this important pattern:

Beliefs -> Thoughts -> Feelings -> Actions -> Results

Our beliefs create our thoughts.
Our thoughts create our feelings.
Our feelings create our actions.
Our actions create our results.

Consider this for a second. This is very important to understand this pattern. For in many ways it’s the foundation of our human experience.

Everything stems from our beliefs.

If we have empowering beliefs, everything is going to be solid.

But on the other end, if we have limiting beliefs…we’re going to be in trouble.

And when we change our beliefs, everything else changes. Our thoughts, feelings, actions, results, and ultimately…our destiny.

Makes sense? All right, let’s keep going.

Back to this idea of not wanting to change.

Specifically, not wanting to change our beliefs.

Why do we do it…and how does it play out?

Our Sneaky Enemy: The Confirmation Bias

There’s something we all do subconsciously that psychologists call “The Confirmation Bias”.

We look for evidence to confirm what we already believe, while ignoring information that discredits our current beliefs.

For example, if you believe that big cities are dirty and crowded, you’ll notice all the examples of dirtiness and crowdedness when walking around a big cities.

But you won’t pay as much attention to the areas that are clean and less densely populated.

Another example, if you believe that you’re not a creative person, you’ll clearly notice the times when you can’t come up with original ideas, but you won’t give yourself much credit for the times when you are actually being creative.

Can you think of times when you do this?

All right, now that the table is set, here’s where it gets interesting…and weird.

Just about everyone on this planet is in some way dissatisfied with at least one area of their life.

Whether it’s our health, relationships, career or financial situation…Very few of us have all 4 main areas really dialed down.

Think about it. How many people do you know are truly rocking it in all areas of their life, consistently?

So, following this line of thought, if things aren’t really the way we want, why do we cling so tightly to our beliefs?

Why are we so attached to sticking to the beliefs that are giving us the results we’re currently getting?

Why are we not more open-minded and more inclined to changing the way we see things?

The Fastest Path to Conscious Evolution

When we stop to consciously think about it, the most powerful way to evolve and transcend our current level of thinking is to challenge our own beliefs.

In his brilliant book Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s best friend and business partner) points out that through history, many of the world’s most successful people were very cautious of their confirmation bias, and actually went out of their way to challenge their own beliefs.

He cites the example of Charles Darwin, who had an insatiable appetite for discrediting and evolving his own theory of evolution.

As you know, that worked out pretty well for him.

So…how do you and I actually do this?

We become scientists. And we set up experiments to test out our own beliefs.

Here are the steps:

1. Pick a scenario where you regularly experience a negative emotion.
(Feelings are the easiest entry point into the Belief-Thought-Feeling-Action-Result chain)

2. Ask yourself: “What is the thought that’s creating that emotion?”

3. Ask yourself: “What is the belief that’s creating that thought?”

4. Now that you’ve isolated your belief, set up an experiment to test its validity.

How? By asking this question: “What would I do if this belief was false, and the opposite was true?”

5. Start doing the experiment, consciously applying the opposite of your default belief.

6. Objectively track the results as you go. Notice what’s happening.

7. Analyze the results, and confirm or discredit the old belief.

Let’s look at an example…

To help you wrap your head about this concept, let’s take the example of an experiment I set up in my own life.

1. Emotion: I feel guilty about taking a day off work.

2. The thought is: “I have so much to do. If I don’t work today, I’ll fall behind on schedule.”

3. The belief is: “The only way to reach my full potential and achieve my goals is to work as hard as possible.”

4.What would if do if this belief was false, and the opposite was true? I would work less and relax more.

5. I set up an experiment to consciously work less for a month.

6. I’m tracking the results…asking myself the following questions:

How are my projects progressing?

How is the business growing?

How do I feel?

How creative am I being?

How are my interactions with my friends, employees and clients?

7. At the end of the 30 days, I analyzed the results and decided whether it’s true or not that “the only way to reach my full potential and achieve my goals is to work as hard as possible”.

The Surprising Results of my Experiment

In October, after consciously working less and resting more…

Not only did I feel AMAZING (clear-headed, creative, inspired)… but I created my most powerful program so far (The Mindset Reprogramming Intensive) and enrolled 42 dedicated students within a couple weeks… This both lead to great transformational experience for them, and an increase of 45% in my company’s monthly revenues.

So I kept the same pattern going for November…

During which I increased my revenues by another 60% while serving my customers more fully and having a ton of fun.

Overall the experiment was a resounding success.

In light of these results, I discarded the old belief and created a new one that says:

“The key to reaching my goals rapidly is to find the perfect balance between work and recovery, to make sure I’m having fun, and to keep myself in an optimal state.”

Conclusion: It’s Your Turn

When I look back on the story of my Friday off, the irony jumps right out.

I didn’t want to take a day off, because I had so much to do, so much to learn, etc.

But now, I see that taking a day off was THE BEST thing I could have done.

Funny how oftentimes, what we resist the most is what we need the most…

Literally, that one Friday off, on top of being totally fun and enjoyable, has changed the way I approach my work and my belief system.

And it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

Here’s the bottom line: when it comes to beliefs, you have 2 options.

1)     You can examine them consciously

2)     You can let them act up subsconsciously and run your life.

One way or another, you’ll have to deal with them.

Which one are you gonna choose?

Cheers!
Phil

PS After the great success of the first edition, I’m putting together another Mindset Reprogramming Intensive for January. If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love the Intensive.

I’m going to take a small group of dedicated individuals through an 8-Week Training Camp for the Mind.  We’ll identify your biggest limiting beliefs, rewrite your mental scripts, and give you a new set of tools that will make you feel freer, more confident and more self-expressed.

If you ever struggle with self-doubt, fear and anxiety, and you are ready to make long-lasting change… this program is for you.

It will be challenging… and life-changing.

If you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your confidence, go in the comments section below and just write “I want to step up”. I’ll send you more details soon.

email
"PS. Ever feel overwhelmed when trying to reach your goals? Watch my TEDx talk to learn how to stop slowly killing yourself while accomplishing more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M9i3-QhWzg&t=565s"
Posted on : 9, Dec 2013

32 Comments

  • Powerful observation, Phil.

    What you mentioned is the feedback loop – and it’s the way that we learn (and reinforce) our belief system.

    I applied this years ago to my social anxiety, and it helped a TON. Here’s how it went down:

    I saw that my belief of people was “they’ll think I’m weird” if I talk to them.
    I noticed how this had an effect on me: it prevented me from going up and talking to them.
    So I transformed my belief to “people would love to meet me cause I’m awesome”, and then acted upon that belief even though I didn’t truly believe it yet.

    It’s a great example of Amy Cuddy’s “fake it till you are it” model from her TED talk on body language.

    Anyways, over time, the positive reactions I got from talking to strangers reinforced my belief that “people would love to talk to me”.

    Now, after hundreds of times of reinforcing that positive belief (which I chose consciously), I don’t nearly get the same level of anxiety as I did before. Talking to strangers? No problem. Talking to women? No problem.

    So yeah – that feedback loop process is powerful, and I’m glad that I realized it earlier in life.

    If you’re out there reading this post and haven’t analyzed your thoughts through this model, DO IT – it’ll help you tremendously.

    Thanks for sharing, Phil.

    • Thanks Max! Yes once you start to test out the new belief, more often then not it’ll start to become a self-fulfilling prophecy (because our beliefs deeply impact our experience of reality).

      It’s all about being willing to test out a new belief for a while!

      After that, the fun begins :)

      Thanks for the great input.

  • I want to step up

    • Great, I’ll be in touch via email Hannan!

  • I want to step up!

    • Great, I’ll be in touch via email Eleanor!

  • I think this is exactly why writing down and reflecting on your thoughts is so powerful – you get to really think about why you think the way you do, and you can take conscious steps to change it.

    I’ve been lazy with reflecting (in written word) lately but I’m going to get back onto it.

    Cheers for the insight Philly

    -Driz

    • Totally! This is especially powerful when you start to feel “off”, ie scared, insecure, doubtful, sad, etc…

      Our thoughts create our feelings…

      If we can identify the thought and change it, we can change our feeling instantly.

      Cheers bru!

  • This article is perfectly timed for me Phil! I was raised to work hard and find myself falling into this same trap when I’m not conscious of what I’m doing. I suppose that drive to work hard comes from fear, doesn’t it? Doing less and letting things happen by themselves – with trust and openness – is such a powerful way to face this fear. Thank you for sharing! I feel very inspired and ready to let go of the reigns today.

    • “I suppose that drive to work hard comes from fear, doesn’t it?”

      In a lot of cases, yes!

      Reading Conversations with God *really* helped me instill total self-love and self-acceptance in myself (ie, my results have no bearing on my feeling of self-worth)…

      And the funny thing is, the moment we let go of that fear of not being enough… we still work hard, but from a place of love/contribution… and the results generally become way better :)

      • I’m so delighted that you’re reading Conversations with God! Thanks Phil, your work is brilliant. Love all your posts.

  • How can I get out of my malaise? I’m a recent graduate with a BS in business. But I don’t know what to do with it. The jobs which I see online I don’t want, and really I don’t know what I want. I’m ready to work hard, but to what end?

    • Hi Ken, I just saw your comment while replying to one above. Have you thought about creating your work/life around your true talents – the things you’re good at and that make you feel good? I can really empathise with how you feel. This quote might inspire you: “The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek, therefore, not to find out Who You Are, seek to determine Who You Want to Be.” ― Neale Donald Walsch

      • Oh definitely. But I don’t really know my talents. People ask what I want to do in 10 years, I don’t even know what I want to do tomorrow.

        • I think you would really love this book!

          http://www.amazon.com/Could-Anything-Only-Knew-What-ebook/dp/B003Z9KFGC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386821253&sr=8-1&keywords=barbara+sher

          Perhaps what you need most of all is time to get to know yourself? Perhaps you could pick a job that you think will teach you about who you really are, and what you are really good at, rather than simply conforming to other people’s expectations? I think that if you’re committed to learning about your truth and open to being surprised, it will come to you much faster.

          Personally when I don’t feel inspired, I just dream up the most exciting option and do that – even if I don’t think it’s possible. If I don’t know where I want to live next, I think of which place excites me the most and book my tickets/accommodation and do it. That always works out the best for me, and I find lots of incredible things happen that I could never have imagined. I try to be really honest about what feels the most exciting, rather than doing what I think I should want to do. Thanks!

    • Hey Ken,

      I think what Jessica said is spot on.

      You should also check out this post, could give you some ideas on an alternative career path: http://www.thefeelgoodlifestyle.com/forgotten-strategy.html

      Cheers,
      Phil

  • I want to step up.

  • I want to step up.

  • I want to step up for GOOD. A lot of what you say clicks. can’t wait for the opportunity to present itself.

  • I want to step up!

    I love your entries, Phil! I have never been so inspired.

  • Hi Phil,

    What do you think about astrology? I’ve been researching if there is anyone who can speak with experience. Has anyone used LOA to change their circumstance in astrology? I’d like to know if it really works, not just what they think and believe might work but the actual practice?
    I’m a virgo and a natural born critique, I don’t mean to but I just am. Do you think I could change my traits using LOA? Thanks!

    • Just saw your comment Mari, wanted to give my opinion! Being a natural critic is very valuable in a lot of circumstances! In a team it’s important that someone is bringing the Virgo energy to the table. Perhaps you could learn to love your ability to see problems, and aim to use it in a positive, “higher” way – to create order and quality in the world – rather than its lower form: nitpicking and obsessing over minor, pedantic details. Astrology teaches us that there is a positive and negative outlet for all our energies: we need to go with them, not suppress them. Who you are is a gift. Hope that helps.

      • Hi Jessica,
        Thanks so much! yes, the word suppress was the key word that I needed….I need to go higher, thanks much.

        Best,
        Mari

  • I want to set up.

  • I want to step up! -if it’s not too late. :)

  • I want to set up.

  • I want to step up!!
    Hey there, I’m 20 years old and from Calgary, AB, Canada. Recently, I’ve been finding myself browsing blogs looking for ways to increase and boost my mental health. I came across your blogs and was instantly intrigued. Upon finishing this I was immediately hooked and would love to step up. Hope to hear from you!

    – Curtis

  • I want to step up.

    Great article, Phil, I’m inspired once again!

  • Hi there Phil , I was actually looking for something that would help me reach greater cognitive thinking but instead i got this and boy oh boy i was amazed from what i read . Actually i myself was thinking about the same like how our belief systems hold us back and after reading this now i am sure that i am on the right path , THANKS MAN CHEERS ! GOOD LUCK !

  • I want to step up.

    • You got to push it-this eseitnsal info that is!

      • Sorry Dortha, but I didn’t get you..
        Can you be more clear?

So, what do you think?