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Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani

Rating: 9/10

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High Level Thoughts

I thought this book provided some interesting concepts to consider when it comes to lifestyle design and the power of the conscious mind. I liked how Vishan talks about the ‘culturescape’- how our world view is shaped by the world around us, often without us being aware. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind made me reconsider my goals, priorities, and helped me get more focused on the things that really matter.

My Notes

On the Culturescape

Our minds and lives are like computers, just as a coder can program a computer to do tasks, we can program our own lives and the world around us to improve and enhance the way we live, and our experiences.

Unfortunately, rather than by conscious decision, our lives are very often ‘programmed’ by what Vishen calls the ‘culturescape’ – predefined rules that we are brought up on, telling us how to love, eat, marry, work, and live our lives. These rules aren’t created by us, but instilled in us from a very young age, as a result of up-bringing, religion, society and culture. Because of the ‘culturescape’, we accept life as is, not thinking about how these programs influence our lives, and whether the rules of the ‘culturescape’ work for us, or against us.

Once we know we are know we are living a life defined by rules of the ‘culturescape’, we can decide whether to question them, or break them.

On Brules

Brules are the bullshit rules defined by the ‘culturescape’, rules such as:

  • You need to go to college to be successful
  • You need to fit in with your culture
  • You need to be loyal to the religion you were brought up on
  • You need to work really hard to make money

The rules above have been broken time and time again, and often, it’s the ones who have broken the rules, who have found the most success. You don’t necessarily have to go to college to get a world class education. The religion you were brought up on, doesn’t necessarily need to be the one you follow. Work doesn’t have to feel like work, if you craft the life you desire.

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

Throughout Vishen’s life he always made a conscious decision to work in fields he loved what he did, so much so that it ceased to feel like work. He believes it seems senseless to spend the majority of our waking hours at work, just to continue living a life where the majority of it is spent working.

Start Questioning the Brules

Do you live your life shackled by bullshit rules of the culturescape? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the rule based on trust and hope in humanity?
  • Does it violate the Golden Rule, as in doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you?
  • Did you take it from culture or religion?
  • Was it instilled in me as a child?
  • Does it serve my happiness?

Stop following the status quo, and start living life by your own rules.

“Place your happiness first. Only when you’re happy can you truly give your best to others—in society, in relationships, in your family and community.”

On Systems for Living and Models of Reality

Our lives are directed by two forces – our systems for living and our models of reality.

Systems for living are the things you do on a daily basis the drive the direction of your life. Examples include the way you eat, the way you work, how you manage money, make love, finish a project, solve problems and have fun.

Our models of reality come from our individual experience of the world. We each interpret the world uniquely, even though we might be having similar external experiences.

Our models of reality are programmed by the world we grew up in, which determines our systems for living, which then becomes our habits and behaviours.

“But who can you help if you’re unhappy?”

Dalai Lama

Books Referenced


After reading this book I rewrote my goals for the year – check them out here.

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