Today, we have another amazing guest on this show: Vishen Lakhiani. Vishen is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and speaker. He's the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a learning experience company that publishes ideas and teachings by the best authors in personal growth, health and fitness, spirituality, productivity, mindfulness, and more, serving three million students, subscribers, and followers worldwide. His book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, which is a New York Times and L.A. Times bestseller, blends evolutionary biology, computational thinking, and provides a new framework for identifying questioning and redefining beliefs to understand and enhance the human self. The book also draws on knowledge from the world's leading thinkers, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Ken Wilber, Arianna Huffington, and more. It's an incredible book. I recently read it. Huge fan. And I just wanted to say, Vishen, welcome to The Science of Success.
Vishen: Thank you, Matt. I'm honored to be here.
Matt: Well, we're super excited to have you on. I'm a huge fan of you, Mindvalley, the six-phase meditation, and love the new book, which I have sitting right here. So, you know, to kind of start out, I think most people are probably familiar with your background and who you are, so I wanted to dive right into the meat of some of the cool topics from the book that I really found fascinating.
Vishen: Thanks good. I think that's a great idea. Let's dive straight into the meat.
Matt: Let's do it. All right. So, tell me the story of the tribe that could not see the color blue, the sort of thing with the blue squares and the green squares. I found that totally fascinating.
Vishen: So, in this book, I like to bring in information from a wide range of different media out there, right, and so one of the things I absolutely love listening to are podcasts. And there was a particular podcast. It was called Radiolab. It's a wonderful podcast. I recommend it highly. And Radiolab had an episode that spoke about the Himba tribe. The Himba tribe are a tribe in Namibia, and one thing that's unique about them is that they have 19 words for the color green but no word for the color blue. So, this Radiolab episode was exploring the idea that what language delineates, we can see. In other words, when you don't have a word for something, we cannot see it. It doesn't exist in our frame of reference. So, the speakers in that episode were citing a book that spoke about how when historians go back to ancient cultures, the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, they find that there is no mention of the word blue. There's no mention of the color blue. Even in Homer's Iliad, he refers to the Aegean Sea as the wine dark sea. To us, it's not wine dark; it's blue. It's clearly blue. But they refer to it as the wine dark sea. Go back to ancient Chinese texts. No mention of the color blue. Red, green, yes, but no blue. And so, this Radiolab episode wanted to investigate, could it be that the word blue did not exist until just several thousand years ago and, prior to that, people couldn't see blue? So, again, to explore this theme, what language delineates, we can see, they went to Namibia and an anthropologist there studied the Himba tribe, and she showed them a series of squares, green squares, and one of these squares was clearly blue. The rest were all green. And she asked them, "Pick out the square that's different," and they could not. They really could not see the blue square. To any of us it's obvious. Then she tried a different experiment. She showed them a circle of squares. All of them were green, but one was a slightly different shade of green. Most of us cannot pick that out, but the Himba people, it was obvious. So, the question here is, what is it about language that gives us the ability to perceive certain things? Now, I used this in the book. I coined different words to allow people to see different structures in the world around them, in terms of how they're functioning in the world so that we can remove ourselves from structures that are no longer serving us. So, I used this analogy to coin the term the "culturescape". The culturescape is that tangled web of human rituals, beliefs, habits, that come together and define how we see the world. You see, we simultaneously exist in two worlds. There's a world, the physical world of absolute truth. This is a cup. It's white, and in it I have tea, which is hot. But then there's the world of relative truth. When you think of words such as happiness, success, meditation, religion, God, none of these things are absolute truth. Different cultures define them in different ways. And so, what I'm trying to teach people is to not place too much legitimacy on singular words, because so much of our communication in so many ways, we misunderstand ourselves. We get into dumb political arguments or fights because words mean different things to many people. And, at the same time, words and these constructs can shackle us, can hold us, confined to who we are. Think about the word "marriage", right? What exactly is it? From culture to culture, it's completely different, yet we have these ridiculous, pointless political fights over concepts such as gay marriage. So, I coined another word called "brule" to help us see the ridiculousness of all of this, and a brule is simply a bullshit rule. So, we live in a culturescape filled with brules, and when you can learn to identify which rules are lifting you up versus which rules are restricting you, you gain ability to free yourself from that tangled mess of useless constructs in the culturescape that keep so many people trapped in an ordinary life.
Matt: I love the concept that language shapes reality, and I think that's something that you hear about sometimes in philosophy textbooks or whatever it might be, but the fact that there's this incredible research study that literally... You know, people can't see a color that, to us, is so obvious. It's amazing how we often really don't understand how language truly does underpin the way we perceive the world. And limiting beliefs is something I know you talk a lot about and we've talked about in previous episodes of the podcast, but I'd love to dig in specifically to one word that you created that I love and has actually helped me reshape my daily architecture in many ways, and that's the concept of blissipline. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Vishen: Sure. Sure. So, blissipline is a word that has been used by many different people, including Reverend Michael Beckwith, Brian Johnson of PhilosophersNotes, so I wouldn't say I coined a word, but it's not in the English language yet and I thought it was a cool word. Blissipline's the discipline of daily bliss. It is the idea that the number one discipline you can have on a day-to-day basis is to put yourself in a state of bliss. Happiness, you see, science is now showing, happiness is rocket fuel towards your success. We grow up in a world where we're told to chase certain goals, that it's about the career ladder. And, again, all of these are just words. Really, what you want to seek are feelings. We chase words to get to feelings. We chase the nine to five. We chase the safe corporate job. We chase money. We chase being an entrepreneur, whatever the hell that means, because we're actually pursuing a feeling. Feelings of freedom, feelings of being happy with yourself, feelings of being able to contribute. Now, blissipline is simply the idea that, look, stop the chase. Get to the feeling first. And those feelings are typically feelings of bliss, of joy, of happiness, hence the word blissipline. Now, we can hack those feelings. You do not need, for example, to grow your salary 25% or to have 25% more sex to be 25% happier. Studies have shown that the simple practice of morning gratitude 30 days in a row, science says, will make you 25% happier. So, blissipline is looking at the simple mental hacks to get to the feelings that you want to get to for which more people are taking a really long, painful, brule-based thought. And that's what it's about. It's about understanding how to hack joy, bliss, happiness to get you there now.
Matt: I think that's so important, and I'm curious. Obviously a daily gratitude practice is one tactic that listeners might be able to employ to integrate blissipline into their lives. What are some other examples or strategies that you implement?
Vishen: Well, there's a whole ton, right. So, I invented something called the six-phase meditation. Okay, so when I was a kid, I loved computer games, probably like any one of our generation. And I used to play this game called Rings of Zilfin, where the hero, Reese, would travel to this horrible land filled with ogres and weird dinosaur-like creatures, and he had to gain certain skills to battle these creatures so that he could kill the evil lord and save the princess and free up the land. So, I was 14, so those kinds of things appealed to me. So, Reese had to up-level and, like many video games, he had to up-level his amount of gold, his amount of endurance, his amount of charisma, his amount of skill in archery. And life is often like that in a certain way. There are certain core areas in which we need to up-level. And I identified six, and I believe that if you can up-level yourself in these six areas, everything else you want in life starts coming to you really easily. So, I looked at these six areas and I found that there was a lot of research behind it. The first is connectedness. It's a feeling of connectedness or compassion with your family, but also beyond your family, beyond your tribe, with the world around you. It's an ability to have empathy for other people. When you build this connectedness, you move from nationalism to the idea of seeing the world as a unified whole. You see beyond race, beyond religion, beyond culture, and you realize that we are all human beings having human experiences in our own way. So, that first skill is connectedness. It creates a feeling of love and appreciation for the world around you. It's a really powerful feeling. So, I created a meditation called the six phase, where the first phase is about applying certain practices from Zen Buddhism to create feelings of compassion. Now, the second phase is happiness. It's bringing happiness into your life immediately. That is obviously. Gratitude, one of the biggest hacks for happiness. That third feeling, that third thing that we have to up-level, is actually forgiveness. A lot of people don't get this, but forgiveness improves your physical body. Studies now show that forgiveness can reduce back pain. Forgiveness can increase your vertical jump. Forgiveness can increase your insurance. It's insane that forgiveness does so many different things to your body. I've done experiments where I've seen that forgiveness can improve dramatically my alpha brainwave amplitude and brain coherence, which is a powerful skill that people get to with years and years and years and years of meditation, but you can do it with forgiveness much, much, much faster. So, forgiveness is that third thing, but it's not just forgiving other people. It's forgiving yourself from past shame, from past guilt, from past mistakes. It's a process of self-healing. Now, those three initial phases are all on the idea of bliss, on the idea of blissipline. I do this every morning. So, I woke up this morning. That was the first three things I did.
But then, while still in my meditation, I do an additional three things. You see, I believe we need a certain balance in life. You need to be happy now. We need to be fully immersed in the present. But that's not the entire thing. We do live in a world where we are encouraged to go out there, to build things, to be a success, and that's important, too. It's a game that we enjoy playing, and it's a game that pushes the human race forward. So, the next three things are about getting out of this passive state of meditation and actually using your mind to do things. And so, phase number four is about visualizing your life three years into the future. You could call this future vision, and I recommend exercises people can do. Phase number five is crafting your perfect day internally in your head before you start the day, and phase six is basically creating a sense of internal support. It's creating this sense of inner drive and stability where you know that whatever higher power you believe in or whatever inner mechanism you have is there to support you in your quest for the day. When you put all of these together, you have a really powerful meditation practice. A lot of entrepreneurs who say they cannot do meditation, a lot of people who say, "Oh, I'm too ADD to do meditation; I can't clear my mind," well, that's the wrong kind of meditation for you. This is designed, the six-phase is designed specifically for these kinds of people, and this is how I spend my time every single day.
Matt: And longtime listeners of the podcast will know that I'm personally a huge fan of the six-phase, and I do it every day as well. I did it this morning.
Vishen: Matt, sorry, I just want to say, the meditation is completely free. You can download the app Ombana--o-m-b-a-n-a--and the app, you can get it on Google Play or the Android store, the IOS app store, and on the app it comes with the meditation pre-loaded.
Matt: Awesome. That's perfect. So anyway, what I was going to say is you touched on the idea of the balance between happiness in the now and setting goals or striving to achieve things in the future, and could you talk a little bit about something you mentioned in the book, the notion of the intention paradox? It's sort of, you know, how can we have goals in the future but also still be focused on just happiness in the present.
Vishen: Well, it's because we accidentally mesh the two, don't we? We say we'll be happy when... I call it the "if-then" model of happiness. If I get this, I will be happy. If I get that, I will be happy. Problem is, if you are placing that condition for happiness on a future, as soon as you hit that future, what happens? You're not really happy. You're just thinking about the next future and the next future and the next future. Happiness always stays on the horizon. As you keep running towards the horizon, it just gets further and further and further away. That's what happens you have an if-then model of happiness: you never catch the horizon. And so, people waste all their time chasing things, thinking it's going to make them happy. That's why so many people wake up at the age of 40 one day going, "Holy shit, I can't imagine. How did I get my life to this level? I'm miserable." And that really is what you want to avoid.
Matt: And that ties into the concept that you talk a lot about in the book, sort of the distinction between a means goal and an end goal.
Vishen: Yeah. The way to really understand if you're chasing the right goal is to know the difference between a means goal and an end goal. Now, means goals are what the culturescape tell you that you have to chase. Means goals are often brules, okay. So, a means goal might be six pack abs. A means goal might be a job where I get to go to work every day and earn a living paycheck. A means goal might be marriage. A means goal might be "I need to lose five kg". A means goal might be "I need to get to a certain salary level". Problem is, many of these means goals we chase because society makes us believe it is important, and then when we get to the goal we realize we don't really have that feeling that we initially wanted. You see, you want to go from goals to feelings. The thing is to ask yourself, "If I got this goal, then what? If I got that goal, then what? If I got that goal, then what?" And you keep asking yourself this question, you start to arrive at what I call end goals. End goals are those things that your soul really, really, really craves. End goals are things that truly bring you happiness. You see, you want that six-pack abs? No. You want that six-pack abs so you can feel healthy. But there are better ways to do it. You don't want that nine to five job with a steady salary. No, you want security, and there are better ways to do it. You don't want to be an entrepreneur, because most entrepreneurs are facing anxiety, stressed out, and simply bought themselves a new nine to five job. What you want is freedom. So, when you aim for those feelings, when you identify what are those feelings that you crave, you start to understand that you can hack life to get you those feelings much, much faster. And when you do that, you don't fall into the means goals trap. Here's a classic example of the means goal trap. So many Americans decide that they want to become lawyers because it's one of the highest-paying professions when the average American kid graduates from college, yet... And so people spend all of this time getting student loans, studying hard, taking their LSAT, joining a firm, becoming a lawyer, but I used to work in the legal industry and studies show that 50% of lawyers are clinically depressed, especially female lawyers. 50% clinically depressed. And it's crazy people make this their goal, but a big reason is they were following the rules of the culturescape. They were chasing a means goal. Why did they become a lawyer? And I asked this to a couple of my friends who are lawyers and who had quit, and they became a lawyer because, really, what they were seeking was "I wanted a good income so I could have a good home, so I could raise a family, so I could be happy. I wanted to do something to contribute to the world." And the point is, don't follow what the herd tells you to do. Understand what is it that your soul craves and chase that. That is the end goal. It gets you off the hamster wheel. So, here's the thing. End goals fall into three buckets. The first bucket is experiences; the second bucket is growth; the third bucket is contribution. All end goals fall into these three buckets, so you start by identifying what are the experiences you want to have in the world. These are things such as waking up next to the man or woman I love, being able to backpack across Southeast Asia. Then you ask yourself, to have these experiences, who is the man or woman I need to be? And this might be, well, I need to be really fit. I want to speak this extra language. I want to be able to be confident in the way I carry myself. And this is good. Growth is a goal in itself. Now, the third bucket is, if I had those experiences, if I evolved to be this incredible man or woman, how can I give back to the world? And here you come up with your list of how you can contribute to your fellow man. Now, when you chase these three things--experiences, growth, and contribution--it is a much surer path to happiness. Experiences bring us happiness because they let us experience all the wonders of the world. Growth is one of the surest parts to happiness. As Tony Robbins said, as souls, we crave two things: growth and contribution. And that brings us to contribution. Contribution is, according to the Dalai Lama, you want to be happy? Make other people happy. Contribution is one of the quickest ways to hack your levels of happiness. So, when I teach people goal setting, I ask them to toss away the goal setting models of past generations and instead aim for experiences, growth, and contribution. This, I believe, is a much, much, much better path to a life that's wonderful, that's full of meaning, that actually gives you what your soul craves.
Matt: And this kind of duality between present happiness and end goals and kind of blissipline, how does that tie into another concept you talk about, which is the idea of bending reality?
Vishen: Ha. So, firstly, in the book I lay out ten different laws, right. Ten different laws that I think really help us advance in terms of our scale of human evolution, and bending reality is one of those laws. It's an understanding that our consciousness, to some degree, shapes what we experience. And that's what I mean by bending reality. There are certain people out there--I'm sure you've met people--who feel really lucky, who talk about coincidences and synchronicities entering their lives. I can't explain it, don't know how it works, but I believe it's real. And what I suggest in this book are a couple of models that help you get there, a couple of mental constructs that help you get there. And again. I'm not talking about that mumbo-jumbo stuff from The Secret, which I don't buy into. I'm talking about something quite different and a process that is quite different.
Matt: You know, it's really funny. In our previous episode, actually, we had a neuroscientist on here and we were talking about how to create an upward spiral to escape from anxiety and depression, and he talked about the fact that beliefs shape reality and that truly, you know, your conscious experience can remap your brain, can change your neurochemistry and literally shape what happens in the world around you. And so, it's not mumbo-jumbo. It's not hokey. And for listeners that are skeptical, if you check out that episode, you'll hear a neuroscientist explain the process behind how and why this takes place.
Vishen: Right. And what I say is, "Look. Is it the mystical law of attraction? Maybe. Is it our brains reticular activating system where our thoughts help our brain recognize objects in the world that help facilitate those thoughts? Maybe. But the fact is we don't have to know how it works to let it work for ourselves."
Matt: That's totally true, and I think that dovetails a little bit with another concept, even maybe just a phrase that you kind of mention in the book which I love, which is the idea that live life as though everything is rigged in your favor.
Vishen: Right. I love that model of functioning in the world.
Matt: I think it fundamentally kind of shifts your perception and the way you experience events, and I think it's something Tony Robbins talks about, too, sort of the notion that shift your perception to think that everything in life is happening for you, the notion that I think you also use the phrase, or I maybe quote somebody, that the world sent you nothing but angels, right.
Vishen: Right, right. That's Neale Donald Walsch who said that.
Matt: Well, I'd love to talk a little bit about the concept of digging into a sort of... going back to brules and limiting beliefs, one of the most kind of damaging and insidious limiting beliefs that almost everyone suffers from is the belief that I am not enough, right. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Vishen: Right. So, one of the interesting things... We were just talking about how our thoughts create our reality. That's not true. Your thoughts do not create your reality. Your thoughts are constantly changing and shifting. It is your beliefs that create your reality. People get this mixed up, and that's why...
Matt: Very good point.
Vishen: Yep, because your beliefs run your thoughts. If you believe you are not enough, you will have thoughts related to that thing. If you believe that you are smart, that you are intelligent, that you are powerful, you have thoughts that relate to that. Your beliefs shape your thoughts, which create and craft your reality. So, the idea here is how can we adjust our beliefs? How can we make sure that we have the right beliefs? And it's really a process called belief hacking. It's maybe a little bit too complex to explain in the short timeframe we have, but it's understanding that your beliefs, like hardware in a computer, are swappable. If you want your computer to function better, well, you can swap out an outdated hard drive and swap in a better hard drive. You can upgrade your monitor. You can change certain things about your computer. You can go from an old mouse to a more modern, sleek Apple magic mouse, too. Just like that, your beliefs are also swappable, and people don't get that. People cling to their beliefs and believe that their beliefs are them. They are not you. You feel that your religion is holding you back? You can swap that out. You feel that have a negative belief about a certain way of functioning in the world? You can swap that out. Now, I learned about this through a phenomenal teacher called Marissa Peer, who I mention in my book, and she's the hypnotherapist for many successful famous people, including the U.K. royal family, the who's who in Hollywood, and so on. I did this hypnotherapy session with Marissa once. She's also a Mindvalley author, so you can check her out on mindvalleyacademy.com. And I was trying to wonder, why is it that I had this big ed tech company, but I never seemed to have as much money as I wanted. And she regressed me into my past, and I had this memory of this school teacher whom I really, really, really adored. He was my favorite teacher. And I adored him, I loved his classes, at the age of 13 I wanted to be like him, but the thing is he was always broke. His wife had left him. He just led a really sad life. He was a great teacher but a sad life. And in that moment, while under hypnotic regression, the belief popped up. I was carrying the belief internally within me that said, "To be a great teacher, you have to suffer". And I realized that the belief had been holding me back, and so when I cleared that belief, so many things instantly shifted in my life. It was unbelievable how fast these shifts happen, but that's the thing about how our heads work. We carry with us beliefs that we do not know we're carrying with us. Think of this little circle. This is the amount of beliefs that you know you have. But this is the amount of beliefs, this giant circle over here, that you're carrying with you that you do not know you have, and life is that process of discovery where you discover these beliefs and you uninstall them as you go on. The six-phase is a great way to do it. As you meditate more, as you practice mindfulness, realizations come to you, and many of the realizations come in the form of new beliefs that push out outdated ones.
Matt: And the thing is, everybody has these limiting beliefs, right. Even if you're not aware of them, even if you're listening and you think, oh, I don't have any beliefs holding me back, the reality is, just like that regression, that something that happened 15 years ago is still shaping and having a very material impact on your life. And for listeners who are curious or want to kind of dig into how to root out and uncover limiting beliefs, we have an earlier episode on The Science of Success where we kind of dig into the whole process of how to kind of uncover and break those down. But, you know, as we're wrapping up I'm curious: What is one piece of homework that you would give to somebody listening to this episode?
Vishen: Sure. Well, what I'd say is go to mindvalley.com/extraordinary, and there you can sign up for a free course that takes you through many of these ideas. Now, if you buy the book, that's phenomenal, because the book helps you understand the free course and vice-versa, but if you don't buy the book because you can't afford the 13 bucks, just go and sign up for that anyway. Because in that course, I take you through a whole process of identifying your goals in different dimensions of your life, and to move past the rules into true end goals. And the process is really interesting.
Matt: And for anybody out there listening, you know, personally I've read The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. I think it's an amazing book. I highly recommend everybody checking it out. I read it and literally--I'm not even joking--I changed my entire daily architecture. I was already doing the six-phase, but I added on some other kind of exercises and strategies that have already, in the few weeks that I've been implementing them, I've seen dramatic changes in my happiness, in my excitement, and it sounds kind of woo-woo but, you know, even in the way that the universe suddenly sort of... you know, things start to go your way. You start kind of experiencing luck and bending reality and shaping the outcomes around you. It's pretty amazing.
Vishen: Thank you. That's really good. I'm glad that's working out for you.
Matt: Absolutely. Well, Vishen, thank you so much for being on the Science of Success. We're so glad to have had you on.
Vishen: Thanks. Likewise. I'm honored to be on your show. So, good luck there, Matt. Thank you so much.