This 1992 book changed everything about my life. It’s my Bible. Most of my beliefs come from it. I read it many times at a formative age, but re-read it now 30 years later, taking notes. It’s not a perfect book. It’s too verbose and full of expired American references. But its core messages are the wisest, most effective life philosophy I’ve ever encountered. You choose how you feel. Your emotions come from you, not events or others. Doesn’t matter what’s true, but what empowers you. You adopted beliefs randomly from circumstance, but you can rewire your mind to believe whatever helps you be who you want to be. You have absolute control over your internal world. If you think, “I can’t help the way I feel”, you need this book.
Never again settle for less than you can be.
Concentrate your power. Focus all resources on mastering a single area of your life.
Invest your life into something that will live on long after you’re gone.
To make a change, first you must raise your standards.
Write down all the things you will no longer accept in your life.
Write down all the things you aspire to become.
Beliefs are unquestioned commands, telling us what’s possible, and how things are.
Beliefs shape every feeling, every thought, and every action.
Set a higher standard and believe. Then you can figure out the strategies.
Find a role model, someone who’s already getting the results you want, then tap into their knowledge.
Learn what they’re doing, what their beliefs are, and how they think.
Everything you do is to change the way you feel.
Do this quickly and effectively.
You over-estimate what you can do in a year, and under-estimate what you can do in a decade.
Decisions shape your destiny.
Note the difference between being interested vs committed to an outcome.
Stay committed to live your life at the highest level, no matter what happens.
There is nothing you have to do.
You can do almost anything, if you truly decide to.
1. Decide what you want
2. Take action
3. Notice what’s not working
4. Change your approach until you get what you want
A true decision means committing to achieving a result, then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.
A true decision creates action.
A decision is information acted upon.
The decisions that decide your destiny:
* what to focus on
* what things mean to you
* what to do to create the results you want
What determines what you do (and don’t do)?
* your core beliefs
* your life values
* your references
* habitual questions you ask yourself
* your emotional states
Changing any one of these will change your life.
Fight the cause instead of the effects.
Make your master system consistent with your desires.
Have a role model for any aspect of your life you are mastering.
Q: “How long will it take me to master this skill?”
A: “How long do you want it to take?”
Take action ten times a day while others do it once a week, and you’ll have ten weeks of experience in a day.
(Tony booked himself to speak three times a day.)
Make sure you learn from every experience.
There is no failure, only results.
Use whatever life gives you in the moment.
For a change to last, link pain to your old behavior, pleasure to your new behavior, and condition it until it’s consistent.
You can link pain or pleasure to whatever you choose.
Link pain to behaviors you want to stop, at such a high level of intensity, that you won’t even consider that behavior anymore.
When you’re in an intense emotional state, experiencing pain or pleasure, anything unique that occurs consistently will become neurologically linked.
If you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else does.
Break through short-term pain to gain long-term pleasure.
Go against the basic conditioning of your nervous system.
Write down an action that you need to take, but haven't.
Why haven't you taken this action?
What pain have you linked to taking this action?
What pleasure have you felt by not taking this action?
What will it cost you if you don't change now?
How does that make you feel?
What pleasure will you feel by taking action now?
The meaning you attach to events, not the events themselves, shape who you are and will become.
Our beliefs are generalizations and misinterpretations of past experiences.
A belief is a feeling of certainty.
Find enough references, and you can develop beliefs about anything.
You have enough experiences to back up the beliefs that people are basically good, or basically rotten.
Your references can be real or imaginary, accurate or inaccurate.
Our brains can’t tell the difference between something we’ve vividly imagined or actually experienced.
Don’t accept references as real and true, refusing to ever question them.
Which belief is true? It doesn’t matter. Which is most empowering?
Is this belief strengthening or weakening? Empowering or disempowering?
Great leaders are rarely realistic.
When attempting to learn a new skill, optimists over-estimate their skill level, and pessimists are more realistic. Yet optimists are more likely to master a skill because they picture themselves succeeding, which gives them the confidence and drive to persist.
When you believe something, your brain filters all inputs, searching for references to support your belief.
When you question our beliefs, you stop feeling certain about them.
The difference between a belief and a conviction is a conviction is linked to powerful emotional events that tell yourself, “Unless I believe this, I’ll suffer massive pain. If I stop believing this, I’ll give up my identity and everything I’ve stood for.”
To create mastery, convert a belief to a conviction.
To create a conviction, reinforce your belief by adding new, more powerful references.
Then take action. Each action strengthens your commitment.
Social proof limits your life - to make it like everyone else’s.
True security comes from improving yourself every day.
List all your beliefs, including ones that empower or disempower you.
For each disempowering belief, ask yourself:
How is this belief ridiculous?
Do you want to model the person you learned this belief from?
What will it cost you (emotionally, physically, relationships, etc) if you don’t let go of this belief?
What is a better replacent belief?
Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it.
(Tony read 700 books in a few years, on human development, psychology, and influence, trying to know everything about how to increase the quality of our lives. Then he immediately applied it to himself and others.)
All change happens in a moment.
Cultures place negative value on instant change, saying it means you never had a problem. If you could change that easily, why didn’t you change long ago?
Reinforce change immediately.
Condition your nervous system to succeed consistently, not just once.
Find a more direct, effective, empowering, and elegant way to get out of pain and into pleasure.
Change is a matter of motivation, not capability.
A strong enough why can bear any how.
Most of change comes from why. Very little comes from how.
Create a sense of urgency that’s so intense that you’re compelled to follow through.
Reach a pain threshold so intense that you must change now.
Failing to live up to your own standards for life is the ultimate pain.
Ask yourself pain-inducing questions:
What will this cost you if you don’t change?
How will this affect your children and the people you love?
Ask yourself pleasure-associating questions, and link those to the idea of changing:
If you do change, how will that make you feel about yourself?
What kind of momentum could you create if you make this change in your life?
Reorganize your neural pathways so they guide you to your desires.
Our feelings are based on the images we see in our mind.
If you’re bothered and disempowered by a past event, scramble it. Make it small, stupid, comical.
Play back the movie of it in your head, fast, reverse, double-speed, silly. Mock it.
To change how you feel about any image in your mind, try changing the intensity - the brightness, size, color, volume, tempo, pitch.
Reinforce a new behavior immediately after it occurs. (Like clicker training.)
Reinforcement will speed up the process of conditioning a new pattern.
Maintain the benefits of the old pattern.
Find a new empowering alternative, that is as powerful and convenient as the old pattern was, for getting yourself out of pain & into pleasure
Imagine yourself behaving this way from now on.
You want what you want as a means to achieving certain feelings, emotions, or states.
Your behavior is not the result of your ability, but of your state.
Every emotion we feel is the result of how you use your body.
Make yourself feel good when you don’t feel good.
Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.
You probably have only a few current ways to change your state: often eating, drinking, or over-doing something disempowering.
Write a list of things you do to change the way you feel.
Make yourself feel good at a moment’s notice, without using food or drink.
Consider: playing music, reading, body movement, exercise, a hot bath, watching a video.
Nothing has to happen for you to feel good.
You don’t need to achieve something to feel good.
Structure your life so that your happiness is not dependent on anything you can’t control.
Enjoy whatever is happening.
To write a book, for example, you have to be in a state of excitement and creativity.
Get yourself into a determined state.
Learn to change your state instantly, no matter what the environment.
Change from “knowing” you can’t do something to knowing you can do it, and take action.
Thinking is nothing but the process of asking and answering questions.
Your mind will answer any question you give it.
Ask a terrible question? Get a terrible answer.
No matter what happens, ask yourself, “How can I use this?”
And “How can I learn from this problem so that it never happens again?”
What’s great about this?
What’s not perfect yet?
What can you do to make it the way you want it?
What are you willing to stop doing to make it the way you want it?
How can you enjoy the process while doing what’s necessary?
Relationship trouble? Ask yourself what you love about your wife.
If you answer any problem-solving questions with “Nothing!”, add the word “could”. Like “What could I be happy about now?”
At some point, you must stop evaluating, stop asking questions, and start doing.
Questions lead you to be uncertain, and you have to be certain to get certain results.
Words matter. Are you angry? Or just peeved? Are frustrated? Or fascinated?
To avoid feeling certain emotions, you’ll go to great lengths.
To avoid hurting or being hurt by a loved one, you’ll suppress all emotions, destroying the connection.
You avoid situations that could lead to emotions you fear.
Learn to find the hidden positive meaning in negative emotions.
Painful emotions serve a positive purpose.
Emotions are the compass the points towards the actions you need to take.
Don’t suppress your emotions.
All emotions serve you.
Negative emotions are a call to action.
Negative emotions tell you that what you’re doing is not working - either the way you’re perceiving, communicating, or approaching something.
Get curious about the message of this emotion. Solve the challenge.
You don’t have to wait for certain experiences - or a set of expectations - to feel certain emotions.
You are the source of all of your emotions. You create them.
You can feel any way you want at any time.
Question your emotions.
Identify what you’re really feeling.
Rejected? Or is it really a sense of separation? Or disappointment? Or just uncomfortable?
Don’t make your emotions wrong, or that will destroy honest communication with yourself, and others.
What do you really want to feel?
What would you have to believe to feel the way you’ve been feeling?
What are you willing to do to create a solution and handle this now?
What can you learn from this?
Discomfort, boredom, unease, mean something is not quite right.
Solution? Change your state. Clarify what you want. Try a different approach.
Fear means you need to prepare for something, or do something to change it.
Solution? Do all you can to prepare for whatever you fear.
Hurt means a sense of loss. You have an expectation that was not met.
Solution? Realize you haven’t lost anything. Communicate your feeling of loss to the person involved.
Anger means an important rule or standard was violated by someone, maybe you.
Solution? Your rules are not right. They don’t know what’s important to you. Communicate the importance of those standards to you in a way that causes them to want to help you, and not violate your standards again.
Frustration feels like we’re surrounded by roadblocks, putting out effort but not receiving rewards. It means you believe you could be doing better than you are.
Solution? What you’re doing isn’t working. Change your approach. Find someone who has found a way to get what you want.
Disappointment makes you feel sad or defeated, as a result of expecting more than you got. It means a goal is not going to happen, so it’s time to change expectations.
Solution? Take action to set a new goal. Make immediate progress on it. Also, you may be judging too soon. Maybe the solution isn’t over yet. Develop patience. Re-evaluate what you really want. Make an even more effective plan for achieving it.
Guilt means you violated your highest standards.
Solution? Immediately ensure it won’t happen again. Rehearse in your mind how you would do it over again.
Inadequacy means you don’t yet have the necessary skill, information, understanding, tools, or confidence.
Solution? Find a way to improve, and do it better than you have.
Overwhelm means you’re trying to do too many things at once, trying to change everything overnight.
Solution? Re-evaluate and decide what’s most important to focus on now. Write down what’s important to you, in order of priority. Take action on the first thing on the list until it’s mastered. Change your time frame focus. Refocus on the long-term vision or what you can control in the present.
Loneliness means you need connection.
Solution? Reach out and make a connection. Identify what kind of connection you need.
All communication is either a loving reponse or a cry for help.
The secret to living is giving.
Plant these emotions daily: love, warmth, appreciation, gratitude, curiosity, excitement, determination, flexibility, confidence, cheerfulness, vitality, contribution.
What else could this mean? ← my life-long question to find more perspectives
Goal setting must be immediately followed by a plan and consistent action.
Never leave the site of goal-setting without first taking some action towards its achievement.
List your clearly defined goals for the results you’ll produce mentally, emotionally, physically, financially.
To achieve your goal ten years from now, what kind of person do you have to be, and what do you need to accomplish in nine years? eight? seven? .. .. one?
What action could you take today that puts you on that path?
What would you pursue if you knew you could not fail?
Write down everything you can imagine.
Have four master one-year goals that inspire you, with compelling reasons behind them.
Look at these four goals daily.
Goals are simply a tool to concentrate your focus and move you.
What kind of person will you have to become to achieve all that you want?
Write the character traits, skills, abilities, attitudes, and beliefs you would need.
Achieving your goals can be a curse unless you have new higher goals beforehand.
As you approach what you’ve pursued for so long, immediately establish new compelling goals.
Make a smooth transition from completion to new inspiration.
Make a continued commitment to growth.
Without that, you stagnate.
Without a compelling future, you’re only half alive.
Spend no more than 10% of your time on the problem, and at least 90% of your time on the solution.
In marriage, see through day-to-day crankiness, venting, stresses. Just as you wouldn’t judge the stock market based on one day.
You can’t judge a person’s character by one isolated incident.
People are not their behaviors.
Perspective: Imagine a tennis game. You make a bad serve.
From your opponent’s point of view, it was a great.
From the judge’s point of view, it was neither bad nor good - just in or out.
Beware of your generalizations.
“I did badly at that” becomes “I did badly today” becomes “I usually do badly” becomes “I always do badly”.
Take away the cause, and the effect ceases.
All decision making is values clarification.
When you know what’s important to you, decisons are simple.
Get clear on what’s most important to you.
Live by those values no matter what.
You can’t live well if you don’t clearly know your values.
Destructive behaviors are a distraction from a lack of fulfillment in life - filling the gap with a quick fix to change state.
A drinking problem is really a values problem.
People are not their values. They are much more than their values.
List your top ten values, in precise order of importance.
Know the values of the important people in your life.
Set up your life so that you’re meeting all of your values every day.
Accomplish your highest values first.
Ends values are the emotional states you desire.
Ends values will fulfill you.
Means values are a way to trigger the emotional states you desire.
Ends values examples: love, success, freedom, intimacy, security, adventure, power, passion, comfort, health, growth, creativity, achievement, accomplishment, vitality, warmth, intelligence, cheerfulness, honesty, gratitude, learning, investing, excellence, harmony, integrity, beauty, respect, fun.
Means values examples: money, family, fame
What emotions are most important for you to avoid?
Examples: rejection, anger, frustration, loneliness, depression, failure, humiliation, guilt
Avoid these emotional states.
Self-sabotage comes from a conflict in values hierarchy.
Example: success as top positve value, and rejection as a top negative value. But you can’t have success without rejection.
You do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.
You didn’t create your old/current value system. You allowed your environment to shape you.
Consciously decide what values you want to live by, to get the life you want.
Consciously select and reorder your values hierarchy.
What values do you need to add or remove to be the person you want to be?
Don’t ask what values are important to you.
Ask what your values need to be to achieve the life you want.
Instead of achieving to be happy, happily achieve.
Design who you become.
Set up the game so you can win.
Make the rules achievable.
No rules that are hard or impossible to meet.
No rules that are out of your control.
No rules that have only a few ways to win, and many ways to lose.
Make rules that are easy to win, and hard to lose.
Make rules that pull you in the direction you want to go.
Rules example for learning/growth: “Anytime I make a useful distinction, anytime I stretch myself beyond comfort, anytime I think of a new possiblity, anytime I become more effective, anytime I apply anything I know in a positive way.”
Rules example for achieving: “Anytime I focus on the value of my life as already created, anytime I set an outcome and make it happen, anytime I learn anything or create value for myself or others.”
Rules example for value of negativity: “I avoid consistently depending on the acceptance of others for my happiness and success.”
Create rules for your moving-towards values that make it easy to feel good.
Create rules for your moving-away values that make it hard to feel bad.
Start moving-towards rules with “Anytime I...”.
Create a menu of possibilities with lots of ways to feel good.
Design your rules so that by pursuing them you have more of what you want in your life.
If you feel angry with someone, it’s your rules that are upsetting you, not their behavior.
People feel their rules are right.
Rules should empower your relationship.
When a rule gets in the way, ask yourself what’s more important: the rule or the relationship?
Link pain to any rule that doesn’t serve you, and replace it with a rule that does.
Communicate your rules to the people in your life, and discover theirs.
Learn your kids’ rules.
You can have lots of friends if your rules for friendship are easy to meet. If they care about you and love you, and you care about them and love them, you’re friends.
There are “must” and “must never” rules, then “should” and “should never” rules.
Too many “must” rules makes life unliveable.
Balance your “must” and “should”.
Don’t have too many rules.
In a relationship, even if you agree on the rules, make sure you clarify whether they are “must” or “should” rules.
Procrastination comes from using “should” instead of “must”. (“I should start this project.”)
To expand your life, expand your references by pursuing ideas and experiences that wouldn’t be a part of your life if you didn’t consciously seek them out.
Seek as many different kinds of references as possible.
Scuba diving, skydiving, helicopter lessons, racing school, explore the inner universe of biology, physics, physiology, martial arts, fluent in another language, death.
Expand your level of choice.
Look for something unusual, new, fun.
Write down five of the most powerful experiences that shaped who you are.
What references do you need to achieve what you want in life?
What you consider possible or impossible is not based on your true capability, but your beliefs about who you are, or who you are not.
Consistency is powerful. You act consistently with who you believe you are, whether it’s accurate or not.
Your identity is nothing but the decisions you’ve made about who you are.
You become the labels you give yourself.
Adults look forward to Halloween or Mardi Gras to give themselves permission to assume an alter ego.
Write who you think you are.
You might identify via your emotions, professions, titles, income, possessions, metaphors, accomplishments, or even what you’re not.
(Tony’s was “I am a creator of possiblity, an instigator of joy, a catalyst of growth, a builder of people, and a producer of passion. I am not a motivator, preacher, or guru. I am an expert in the psychology of change. I am a coach, an entrepreneur, a husband, father, lover, friend, entertainer, TV personality, best-selling author, one of the most impactful speakers in the nation, a black belt, jet helicopter pilot, international businessman, health expert, advocate for the homeless, philanthropist, teacher, a person who makes a difference, a force for good, a healer, challenger, and a fun outgrageous, humble kind of guy.”)
Forget your past.
Write who want to be.
Write a plan of action to live consistently with your new identity.
Your relationship is a place you go to give, not take.
Never threaten the relationship.
List the states you’re committed to experiencing every day, to live in accordance with your highest principles. (7-10 is ideal.)
Describe how you will know you’re doing it. (“I am being __ when I ___, ___.”)
Your experience of time is the result of your mental focus.
Change your time focus between the long-term and the present, as needed.
Model those who have already succeeded.
For something that seems to take a long time to complete, add another component that lets you accomplish two things at once.
(Listening to something nourishing while doing something else.)
You have absolute control over your internal world.
You decide what things mean, and what to do about them.
Your actions communicate your most deeply-held values and beliefs.