I came home from college after
my freshman year and announced to my Mom that I’d decided to major
in psychology. We talked; she was excited for me. Then she
mentioned that she made an A in her college psychology course.
I said, “You must have really
enjoyed it and studied a lot.” Her reply was, “No, I just
answered everything on the tests the opposite of what I thought was
So, in honor of my Mom, who
thought it was all opposite anyway, here’s a list of nine
inversions of conventional wisdom in writing a new life or money
1. Burn your bridges.
Make it impossible to go back to an
old habit or way of being. If you decide to quit smoking, make it
impossible in some way to restart. Create an uncomfortable scenario
if you do start again. Focus on the present without the bad habit.
Reward yourself for not going back.
the opposite of what you’d normally do when you are afraid,
worried, anxious, or uncomfortable.
If you’re uncomfortable with
public speaking, avoidance will increase the fear, so do more of it.
Jump in the water; you can’t learn to swim on paper.
Prediction and expectation based on
the past create repetition,
but based on the present and future create possibilities.
Show me an obstacle, and I’ll show
you a desire. An obstacle conceals but simultaneously reveals the
underlying desire. When you’re ready to recognize that you create
the obstacle, you’re ready to consider the possibility of not
4. Discomfort can be a sign
Neuronal pathways and neural networks, the highways and villages in
our brain, have become etched by repeated habits to create efficient
operation make routine behaviors easy. When these habits are
confronted and have to change, the midbrain’s automatic pilot gets
disrupted. We feel discomfort. The promise of change is to develop
a new, better default mode—the brain just doesn’t know that yet,
so our minds have to lead the way with a plan.
5. Lean into the unknown.
People fail to change because they don’t feel safe
changing—changing means leaving their home base of reality—the
internal map that is synonymous with identity. A new story
generates uncertainty, trepidation. The easiest and fastest way to
end this discomfort is to go back to the familiar: the old story.
You can tiptoe through life very
carefully and arrive safely at death.
6. You do not attract what
you want; you create what you focus on.
When you focus on what you want,
what you don’t want falls away—like your lap when you get up to
7. You only see what you
Our beliefs are the software that
writes our behavior. Our experiences are always consistent with our
assumptions. And we’re always right—because we write the story.
8. Believe in someone and
then he or she will show you why you do.
Neuroscience has demonstrated that
authentic belief in someone activates his or her brain to create a
state of mind that transcends usual thinking and performance.
believe every thought you have.
Thoughts lie a lot. They’re like
my Uncle Ted (rest his soul or I’d have to use a
different example). You don’t have
to believe every thought that crosses your
mind. You’re not even stuck with
the brain you have—you can make it better.
Excerpted and adapted from
BRAIN: AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL
How Neuroscience and Quantum
Physics Can Help You Change Your Life