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Mind Gym

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achieve more
by thinking

Sebastian Bailey, Ph.D., & Octavius Black

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mind gym: Achieve More by Thinking Differently. Copyright 2014 by The Mind Gym, Inc. All
rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address HarperCollins
Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.
HarperCollins books may be purchased for educational, business, or sales promotional use.
For information please e-mail the Special Markets Department at
HarperCollins website:

, and HarperOne are trademarks of HarperCollins Publishers.

f i r s t e di t i o n
Designed by Terry McGrath
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bailey, Sebastian.
Mind gym : achieve more by thinking differently / Sebastian Bailey and Octavius Black. First
pages cm
Includes index.
isbn 978-0-06-233144-1
1. Thought and thinking. 2. Creative thinking. 3. Behavior modification. 4. Success. I. Black,
Octavius. II. Title.
BF441.B263 2014

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Introduction: A Fitness Program for Your Mind

Part One Reset Your Mind 7

1 Flip the Switch on Automatic Thinking

2 Think like an Attentive Optimist
Part Two

Take Control 49
3 Take Charge
4 Start a New Chapter
5 End Procrastination Now

Part Three Deepen Connections 87

6 Get in the Right Relationship Mind-Set

7 Bid for Attention

8 Get the Best from P eople
Part Four Persuade Others 133

9 Win Hearts and Minds

10 Impress Everyone

11 Give Great Feedback

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vi contents

Part Five

Resolve Conflict 179

12 Detox Your Relationships
13 Navigate Difficult Conversations
14 Take the Drama Out of Relationships

Part Six

Let the Creative Juices Flow 215

15 Overcome Creative Blocks
16 Master the Tools of Creativity
17 Tap Your Unconscious Mind

Part Seven Minimize Stress, Maximize Bliss 253

18 Make Stress Work for You

19 Combat Stress

20 Switch Your Mind Off

Conclusion: Back to the Beginning

About the Authors

About Mind Gym

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A Fitness Program for Your Mind

o you feel overwhelmed? Overworked? Overloaded? Do you feel

that despite your best efforts, you are not performing at your best?
You are not alone. More than ever we are under constant pressure to
succeed. We are asked to do more at work in less time and with fewer
resources; and we are stretched thin at home as we balance professional responsibilities, take care of our homes, pay bills, look after our
children, care for our aging parents, and nurture our most intimate
relationshipsa ll while posting Facebook updates that make our
friends jealous. Keeping up with our daily lives is challenging enough.
Taking the time and creating the space to consider more fundamental
questionsAm I building a meaningful life? What choices should I make
to maximize my chances of happiness?seems like a luxury few of us
can afford.
To thrive in this breakneck environment, our best bet is to leverage
our most powerful assets: our internal resources. We need to think
smarter, make better decisions, relate more strongly to others, work
brilliantly, and manage our stress. The good news is that there is a
wealth of scientific information on how to leverage these resources to
excel personally and professionally.

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2 mind gym

The bad news? The majority of that enlightening science is buried

in complex academic papers and books. Some has made its way to
the popular mediafor better or worse. There seems to be an endless
supply of pop psychology theories that promise a more fulfilling life,
success at work, a better understanding of yourself, stronger relationships with others, and the secret to everything else. Not all these shiny
theories are bad. But it is often impossible to tell the snake oil from the
fairy dust, or the gimmicks from the truth.
Not anymore.
We wrote this book with two goals in mind: to make the best, most
rigorous research findings on the science of success and fulfillment
accessible to everyone and to help you apply these insights so you can
effect radical change in your life as quickly as possible. Mind Gym will
explain why you get trapped in negative thought patterns, why your
relationships fail or succeed, why your conversations dont turn out the
way you expected them to, why you get stressed, and why you cant
get your creative juices flowing. But more important, Mind Gym will
provide tools and exercises to help you change what you think and how
you approach these challenges, so you can optimize your most powerful ally: your mind. When your mind is fit, you get more out of life, more
out of work, more out of your relationships, more out of everything.

A Gym for the Mind

The original idea for Mind Gym was born in 1999, during a casual
conversation over dinner when the topic turned to cultural trends in
society. We discussed the 1980s obsession with physical improvement
(the birth of jogging and Jane Fondas workouts) and the 1990s focus
on the soul (yoga, alternative medicine, and meditation). We asked
ourselves, What will the new millennium be about? The mind. We all
agreed that as the pace of technology and life increased, a sharp mind
would be essential to our success and fulfillment.
What we needed, we agreed that night, were personal trainers for
our minds. Just as a physical trainer identifies the best equipment and
exercises that will help us achieve our fitness goals, we all need an
expert to help us navigate the complexity of our minds and help us get

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them into the best possible shape. A year later, we launched a series of
workouts for the mind to do just that. These short, sharp workshops
were grounded in robust science and packed with practical tools that
could be applied immediately and exercises that were fun to do.
Since our company, Mind Gym, launched in 2000, more than one
million people in thirty countries have participated in our trademark ninety-minute workouts. Some of the worlds most progressive
corporationsincluding Google, Tory Burch, PepsiCo, and Unilever
have brought these workouts to their organizations to help train their
people to achieve more by thinking differently. And the vast majority
of participants love them. An incredible 95 percent of participants have
said they would apply what theyd learned to their lives, and 93 percent
would recommend the experience to others.
To develop these workouts, we explored a century of psychological research to identify the best and most helpful insights on how to
optimize our minds and behaviors. When necessary, we adapted and
combined different theories from the psychological sciences to make
them more relevant to the needs of people today. Over the years, weve
had a chance to test and refine the hundreds of techniques and exercises, first on the Mind Gym team and then, when they were found to
be effective, on hundreds of thousands of participants in our workouts.
The result is a wealth of practical and road-tested advice on how to
think and communicate more effectively.
Because not everyone can attend our workouts, we wrote this book
so you can experience Mind Gym workouts and exercise your mind
wherever you areat home, in your office, on a plane, or anywhere you
can sneak away to read and try out these techniques for a few minutes.

The Mind Gym Philosophy

The science-backed techniques and exercises we offer in this book
are informed by a set of assumptions that lie behind everything Mind
Gym does:
We can choose how we think. We are not preprogrammed to perceive
and interpret the world in a certain way, but we are largely free to
decide how we think and how we communicate.

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Mind G ym

We can choose to improve. Just like exercising at the local gym helps
us become more physically fit, we can all improve our mental performance by choosing to exercise our minds. No, we cant turn ourselves into brilliant thinkers like Albert Einstein or Leonardo da
Vinci, any more than multiple trips to the gym will turn us into
Dwayne The Rock Johnson. But we can become the best version
of ourselves.
We can choose to be smarter. Intelligence, in its broadest sense,
involves much more than abstract problem solving or IQ. In addition to systematic thinking, intelligence includes physical and social
skills, as well as perception, imagination, emotional self-regulation,
and many aspects of personality. All of these can be enhanced.
We can choose our habits. Most of us tend to underestimate the
extent to which we behave on autopilot, reflecting mental default
settings that we have forgotten we can reset. By uncovering more
of the options that are available, well find it easier to escape our
current habits or settings.
At Mind Gym, we believe everyone can change radicallyif they
make a conscious decision to do so. If you are ready to change, ready
to get your mind into the best shape its ever been, start your exercise
program now.

How to Use this Book

Mind Gym is designed to meet your specific needs. Weve divided the
book into seven parts, each tackling some of the most common challenges people face:
How to adopt a positive mind-set
How to increase productivity
How to repair broken relationships
How to influence others
How to resolve conflict successfully

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How to be more creative

How to minimize stress and maximize bliss
Each part starts with a brief summary of the content covered in its
chapters. If your priority is to manage stress or be more creative, then
go straight to the relevant section. Having trouble deciding whether
or not to stick with a relationship? Theres a section on that too. Each
chapter within the section offers specific tools that you can use immediately, and they are crafted to help you achieve results right away.
At the end of each chapter weve put together some exercises for you,
called Give Your Mind a Workout. The beginner exercises are to get
you started and the advanced exercises are there once youre ready for
something more challenging.
Of course, you can read this book cover to cover if you prefer. Or
you may choose to follow one of our pre-designed programs. Just like
a physical fitness regime can be designed for strength or stamina, each
of our programs has been developed to help address common desires.
There are four basic programs to help you get what you need from
Mind Gym as quickly and efficiently as possible:
Get What You Want
This program is especially helpful if you know what you wantboth
professionally and in your relationshipsbut dont know how to get it,
particularly when obstacles keep getting in the way. (Read chapters 1,
2, 3, 5, 9, 11, and 15.)
Be Liked
This is a program for those of you who struggle in social situations,
have difficulty maintaining relationships, or simply would like to
deepen your connection to colleagues and friends. Do you want to be
more charismatic? Do you want that special person to look your way?
This program is for you. (Read chapters 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 14.)
Be Respected
This is a big one. Its a program for those of you who want to be
admired or at least treated as an equal by others. Do you often feel like
youre getting the short end of the stick? Follow this program. (Read
chapters 3, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 16.)

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Overcome Adversity
If you are facing a difficult time in your life or want to be ready to
deal with unexpected challenges, youll love this program. It helps you
realize how and why you internalize chaos, and how others might be
adding to your challenges. And it helps you understand the ruts that
you need to get out of. (Read chapters 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, and 20.)
Whether you choose to follow one of these programs or read individual
chapters that fit your needs, we hope the book will lead you to new
paths and reveal aspects of yourself you didnt quite know were there.
By getting your mind in top shape, your life will change: Youll work
smarter. Youll have stronger and richer relationships. Youll be more
fulfilled. Youll thrive.
Have a fantastic workout!

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