Mind Hacking – A Self-Help Book for Geeks, with Sir John Hargrave – PS043

In this episode of Positivity Strategist, Sir John Hargrave shares insights about “mind hacking” and its value in creating positive change. Whether the change is starting a new business, finding happiness in relationships,  kicking additions, or something else, we can learn to reprogram our minds to achieve greater and more meaningful success.

Mind Hacking, Episode Introduction

Sir John Hargrave

Sir John Hargrave, CEO of Media Shower, in his book, Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days shares many entertaining and heartfelt stories.  It opens with a gripping personal story of dealing with addiction.  He made a choice to change his life.  He began to catalogue the “hacks” he made in his mind that helped him cope and successfully reinvent himself.  This book comes from his desire to assist others in creating positive change.

Sir John Hargrave is an author, comedian, and entrepreneur. After launching one of the world’s first humor websites, Zug.com, in 1995, he went on to author two books: Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual and Prank the Monkey. His comedy has appeared in The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Boston Globe, Businessweek, Entertainment Weekly, and more. A self-proclaimed technology geek, Hargrave has appeared on MSNBC, The BBC, Comedy Central, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He lives in Boston with his wife and two children.

A User Manual for the Mind

Mind HackingSir John wrote “Mind Hacking” as a self-help book with geeks in mind.  The metaphor throughout is software development and open source at that.  The book is chock full of  tools and “programs”,  to help readers understand the habitual patterns that run their minds. Equipped with such insights and self-knowledge, they can then apply the reprogramming tools Mind Hacking offers to create better and more relevant ways of being and doing.  Just as software is updated when it’s no longer useful or relevant, our minds also need updating with new inputs when outdated, old world views or bad habits hold us back and prevent progress.  So this book, Mind Hacking is designed as a user manual for the mind.

When asked what's best about his book,  Sir John quickly replies:

“It’s incredibly practical.”

His recommended tools and strategies to transform thoughts — and, in turn, to transform actions — are grounded in science and research studies.  On example cited is psychological studies about visualization. Listen to learn more and find out the difference between the what the research shows vs. popular conception of what works.

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Gaining Awareness of Your Mind

Metacognition is thinking about thinking.  John calls it “super user mode” — moving into a mental state,  so you can view the mind objectively. He gives the analogy of watching a movie.  You watch it and, usually, if it’s a good movie, you get lost in it.  Similarly, you get totally lost in the movies you run in your own head about how you run your life, or how you should run your life.  The movies you run in your head may have nothing to do with what's really going on out there in the world outside of your headspace.


John senses that the words “mindfulness” and “meditation' are both so often over used, that their power and meaning is lost on some people.  He shares one of his favorite quotes:

“The skill of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, character, and will. And an education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.” – William James

For John, “the skill of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention” is learning to concentrate. It’s especially relevant in today’s digital world where there are so many distractions and interruptions.  He refers also to psychic anxiety, causing even more stress. Rapidly switching tasks, going back and forth between one and another takes great effort and concentration, and there’s little lag time to adjust.

Millennials and younger people, particularly “cell phone checkers”, tend to feel more anxiety because of the idea of an “open task loop.” The more you check your phone, the more anxiety is felt because of the perceived notion that there is more for you to do.  Yet, the good news is that millennials are seeking ways to become more aware and mindful to increase the mental peace in everyday life. Making and following rules for ourselves is one tool to help accomplish this peace.

Debugging Mental Loops

Many of the mental loops we have running through our heads are self-fulfilling prophecies.  John suggests, “Like a programmer, we kind of debug that mental code and think, ‘Well, what do I want to replace that with — what’s the positive equivalent?’” We can rewire our brains for good.

Listen in to this fun and informative episode to hear more about how to “mind hack” your brain as a tool to create positive change in your life, thereby positively impacting the lives of others.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Books Mentioned In This Episode

[amazonjs asin=”1501105655″ locale=”US” title=”Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days”]

[amazonjs asin=”081298160X” locale=”US” title=”The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”]

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