“Just as a programmer can program a computer to do specific tasks by understanding its code, you can program your life and the world around you to improve, enhance the way you live and the experiences you have in this lifetime. But first, you have to see this code. And that’s where this book comes in.”
– Vishen Lakhiani, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
The Code of The Extraordinary Mind is a book with a simple premise:
There is a code – a set of principles and methodologies – you can learn that will help you create and live an extraordinary life. The book offers this code.
It’s written by Vishen Lakhiani, one of the most influential personalities in personal growth today. He’s the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a 200-person-strong company that specializes in learning experience design and creating digital platforms and apps that power the education revolution. Mindvalley’s curriculum focuses on personal growth, mindfulness, well-being, productivity, and more. (From the back of the book.)
Some of Vishen Lakhiani’s beliefs about reality seem a bit out there, but his success speaks for itself. The book is written in a very conversational tone and it’s super easy to read and understand. Here are 7 great lessons from the book;
- GO BEYOND SOCIETY’S CONDITIONINGS
“Of course, there’s a darker side to culture: when we get so focused on our rules that we turn them into decrees about how life “should” be and label people or processes as good or bad if they don’t follow the rules. This is how you should live. This is how you should dress. This is how women, children, the sick, the elderly, or the “different” should be treated. My tribe is superior to your tribe. My ways are right, which means that yours are wrong. My beliefs are right, and yours are wrong.”
Are you following society’s rules, guidelines, conditionings like a fucking dog who’s just following his master without ever questioning why? Are you making “sit” and “come” and bringing sticks and shit because society tells you to do so?
You don’t need to go to college. You don’t need to eat breakfast. You don’t need to treat rich people, or old people, or homeless people any differently from each other. You don’t need to work 9 to 5. You don’t need to take work off on weekends. You don’t need a “job”.
Frankly, you don’t need to follow society’s rules. You don’t need to follow the “shoulds” of our conditionings. You can decide yourself. You can choose your own path, create your own rules, and live your own destiny.
In other words, you can transcend the culturescape (a word Vishen Lakhiani invented to describe all the rules, and best practices, and shoulds of a society or culture):
“Extraordinary minds are good at seeing the culturescape and are able to selectively choose the rules and conditions to follow versus those to question or ignore. Therefore, they tend to take the path less traveled and innovate on the idea of what it means to truly live.”
Start questioning all the different rules and practices you may have taken for granted in your life so far.
Maybe you don’t need to be rich to be happy? Maybe it’s possible to be spiritual without being religious? Maybe it’s okay to feel sad and depressed from time to time? Maybe learning shouldn’t stop after school or college? Maybe you can actually create your own destiny… and aren’t just a victim of your genes or your heritage?
Start questioning everything.
2. MAKE A DENT IN THE UNIVERSE
What happens when you ignore society’s limiting rules and programs? Well, you might just make a dent in the universe…
“Our culturescape is filled with many ideas that are powerful because of the sheer number of people who believe in them. Think of ideas like nation-states, money, transportation, our education system, and more. But every now and then a rebel comes along and decides that some of these colossal constructs are nothing more than Brules*. Most of these rebels talk about changing this and are labeled idealists at best, or nut jobs at worst, but once in a while, a rebel grabs reality by the horns and, slowly yet decisively, shifts things.
The drawing below illustrates this point. The circle is the culturescape. The mass of dots in the middle represents most folks. At first a certain person, perhaps you, decides to move away from viewing the world like everyone else. You get labeled a misfit, a rebel, a troublemaker.”
*A Brule, according to Vishen, is a bullshit rule that society is programming us to believe and think it’s real.
But then you do something original and wild. Perhaps you write a new type of children’s book, as J. K. Rowling did with the Harry Potter books. Or, like the Beatles, you decide to move away from traditional sounds and create an original type of music. Or, like entrepreneur Elon Musk, you decide to popularize the electric car. Some misfits will fail. But some will succeed, and when they do, they make a dent in a culturescape.
And that’s when the misfit is labeled a visionary.”
Start challenging society’s rules, create your own, and live life on your own terms… who knows, you might just be able to make a dent in the universe.
“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. This is – everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
– Steve Jobs
3. UPDATE YOUR MODELS OF REALITY AND YOUR SYSTEMS FOR LIVING
“Extraordinary minds understand that their growth depends on two things: their models of reality and their systems for living. They carefully curate the most empowering models and systems and frequently update themselves.”
The growth of your life depends on two things:
Your models of reality (which is another word for beliefs)
Your systems for living (which is another word for habits and daily activities)
If you want to grow as a person – maybe you want to become more confident, better-looking, more successful, financially richer, etc. – you need to regularly update your beliefs and your habits and daily activities.
Vishen Lakhiani calls the process of changing your habits and beliefs consciousness engineering. You can check out the video below to learn more about this entire process and philosophy:
4. BEND REALITY
“Extraordinary minds are able to bend reality. They have bold and exciting visions for the future, yet their happiness is not tied to these visions. They are happy in the now. This balance allows them to move toward their visions at a much faster rate while having a ton of fun along the way.”
“BENDING REALITY. This is the ideal state where you’re happy in the now, and you have a vision for the future that drives you. Your vision pulls you forward, but you’re happy now – despite not having yet attained that vision. When you’re in this state, there’s a feeling of growth and enjoyment. It’s about the journey as well as the destination. An interesting observation about this state is that it often seems as if the universe has your back. Call it what you want – but it starts to feel as if you’re lucky. The right opportunities, ideas, and people seem to gravitate to you. It’s as if your happiness is rocket fuel moving you toward your vision.”
Bending reality is another concept that Vishen has coined.
It’s a state of being – and when you’re operating in this state, you feel like everything in life is bending in your direction, that you are effortlessly making things happen, and that anything is possible.
It’s the perfect balance between being happy in the now and having an exciting vision for the future.
“It’s a subtle balance:
1. You have a bold vision for the future pulling you forward.
2. Yet… you’re happy in the NOW.”
This is the key:
You have big goals for the future – but you don’t tie your happiness to your goals. Be happy now, before you attain them.
I’ve written about the benefits of happiness before and being happy now is probably the best thing you can do to attain your goals for the future. Remember, happiness creates success.
It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. Yet in today’s world, we ironically sacrifice happiness for success only to lower our brain’s success rates.
– Shawn Achor
Let’s now look at how you can achieve the state of bending reality by learning…
…how to be happy now
…and how to create a compelling vision for your future.
5. HOW TO BE HAPPY NOW: LIVE IN BLISSIPLINE
“In this chapter, I’ll introduce a simple system for mastering happiness in the now. It goes beyond feeling peaceful to feeling truly joyous. It combines spiritual mastery with the real-world desire to meet your goals and make your intentions come true. I call it Blissipline: the discipline of daily bliss.”
Blissipline is about practicing your skills of being happy in the now on a daily basis.
Vishen uses three strategies to create feelings of happiness:
- Gratitude (more on the benefits of gratitude here.)
- The Practice of Giving (learn more about how giving can make you more successful
You can check out the exact exercises in the book. Or you can just use his 6-Phase Meditation (see lesson #7) which combines exercises for being happy in the now with exercises for reminding yourself of your compelling vision for the future.
7. BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: THE 6-PHASE MEDITATION
Let’s recap real quick:
According to Vishen, there’s an optimal state of being which he calls bending reality. In this state you’re experiencing feelings of growth and enjoyment, you’re feeling as if the universe has your back, and you almost seem to magically attract the right opportunities, ideas, and people towards you.
This state requires two things:
Being happy in the now
Having a compelling vision for the future (learn more on having a vision here.)
To access this state on a daily basis, Vishen has created what he calls the 6-Phase Meditation:
“The Six-Phase is a mental hack to get you to the level of extraordinary faster than ever before.
Each phase of the Six-Phase is designed to enhance one of six key skills. The first three contribute to happiness in the now. The next three contribute to your vision for the future.”
“I consider the Six-Phase the most important thing I do every day. It’s the number-one secret to my success and the most important skill I teach. I cannot emphasize enough just how powerful it is.”
P.S. WHAT’S YOUR READING GAME?
Want to know one habit highly successful people have in common?
They read. A lot.
Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success. He pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
In his recent HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, he says, “I still probably spend five or six hours a day reading.”
His business partner and fellow billionaire, Charlie Munger, shares that passion and commitment to reading. He once said, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”
And these two are not alone. Here are just a few more ultra-successful people who make reading a major part of their days:
Mark Zuckerberg aims at reading a book every two weeks
Bill Gates reads one book per week or about 50 books per year
Elon Musk is another voracious reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he simply said, “I read books.”
Mark Cuban writes on his blog that he reads more than 3 hours every day
Oprah Winfrey is famous for her book club and is well-known for being an avid reader
Reading is a big deal.