How to Hack Your Mind - An Interview with Sir John Hargrave

How to Hack Your Mind - An Interview with Sir John Hargrave

What follows is a transcript for the podcast The Science of Mind Hacking - Sir John Hargrave - Brain

Topics within the interview include the following:

  1. The Definition of Hacking
  2. The Brain, the Mind and Computer Are All Alike
  3. The “What Was I Thinking?” Mindfulness Practice
  4. The Physiology of the Mind-Body Connection
  5. The ‘Five Why’s’ Technique
  6. “The Worse Thing That Can Happen” Exercise
  7. The Powerful Effects of Written Affirmations
  8. From Comedy Writer to an Expert in Mind Hacking
  9. How He Became Sir John Hargrave
  10. Feel, Do, Have, Give, Be
  11. Mental Decluttering 
  12. Tips on Reducing Decision Fatigue
  13. What’s Next for Sir John Hargrave
  14. The Role of Humor Play in Mind Hacking
  15. Authenticity Means You Are Trying To Be Yourself
  16. More About Sir John Hargrave

The Definition of Hacking

Sir John Hargrave: One is decluttering. So mental decluttering. A lot of what drains our energy, it's been called a willpower battery as if we only have a certain amount of willpower each day when we wake up. And what drains that willpower battery are the interruptions that come at us, and they're both internal interruptions. So it's unwanted, unpleasant thoughts, emotions, feelings, and it's external interruptions and that might be all of our digital distractions.

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Dr. Heather Sandison: Welcome to Collective Insights. I'm your host today, Dr. Heather Sandison, and I'm so excited to have Sir John Hargrave joining us today. He is an expert in brain hacking and is going to share some tips that you're going to be able to take home, use and teach others to use to get the most out of your brain function.

So hacking is an interesting word here. Would you mind just starting with the definition of hacking?

Sir John Hargrave: Sure. I'm a computer nerd, and so the whole book is written from the perspective of computer nerds. And the original meaning of hacker, it was a good word. The good hackers, the original hackers were ones that found clever tricks or techniques to do something cool with computers. We still use that term when we use phrases like life hacking or time hacking, schedule hacking, things like that. It means a clever trick or technique. So Mind Hacking, this book is a collection of those hacks, those little tricks that we can use to reprogram our brains, and in that sense, it's kind of a user manual for the mind.

Dr. Heather Sandison: So brain versus mind. Do you make a distinction there?

Sir John Hargrave: We do talk a lot in the book about the neuro chemistry of the brain, but it's really focused on the individual experience of the mind because ultimately that's what we're stuck with. We're soaking in it all day long. So what we try to do is say you're the programmer of your own brain, of your own mind, and that's the experience that you have. And we're going to teach you how to do it better.

The Brain, the Mind and Computer Are All Alike

Dr. Heather Sandison: So you use this analogy throughout the book of the computer and the mind and the similarities. Will you just break that down? What are all the ways the brain, the mind, and computers alike?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Well, the big one is that they can run efficiently or inefficiently depending on their programming. I just got a new cellphone, and I am totally looking forward to getting rid of the old cellphone because I am going to have this pure, fresh, clean, decluttered operating system to work on in the new phone. We all know that experience where after some time your hard drive gets weighted down or your phone gets full of apps that you don't use. And it's that inefficiency, that sort of mental clutter that is analogous to what happens in our own minds.

So what we want to do is to, what programmers call debugging the software, which is where you're rooting out bugs or problems within your software. You're pinpointing where they are, and then you're rewriting the code to make those pieces more efficient.

So in the book, we talk about becoming aware of the minds. So awareness is the first step of that. And then second, it's debugging. It's locating or pinpointing where these problem thoughts are arising, and then it's reprogramming through a whole series of techniques or hacks that we have in the book for how to make those mental patterns more efficient.

The “What Was I Thinking?” Mindfulness Practice

Dr. Heather Sandison: Do you mind going through a couple of those techniques?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, yeah. There's a lot. So one of them is just called what was I thinking? And it's very simple. Just as many times today for the rest of the day, you try to catch yourself thinking, and you try to ask yourself, "What was my mind just thinking?" That's it. And most people find it really easy for a few minutes, and then it's surprisingly difficult because you forget to do it. You forget to do it. In other words, you get lost in the mind.

What we're trying to do is develop this awareness of sort of this level of metacognition. We're trying to get on top of the mind to look down at it, to look at the source code or the programming that's going on. And to do that, we have to continually exercise that sort of metafunction of getting out above it and asking, "What was my mind just thinking?" So it's deceptively difficult, this exercise, and we recommend trying it for the rest of the day after you've listened to this podcast. Try it, and then at the end of the day, see if you can remember to count how many times you were able to successfully remind yourself to ask, "What was my mind just thinking?"

Dr. Heather Sandison: So it sounds like a mindfulness practice.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And kind of these meditation, these traditions. For a millennia, they've been in different societies across the planet, and how is your approach different or similar to some of those traditions?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. It definitely comes out of those traditions, no doubt. But what's different here is that we put it within the framework of technology. We put it within the framework of computers and apps and iPhones and all of these gadgets that we're all so used to using every day. And we also make it a lot more fun because we gamify it. So all of the exercises in the book are basically ways of sort of games that you can play called the mind games in the book to help you develop the awareness and help you develop the debugging techniques and then the reprogramming techniques in order to think better.

The Physiology of the Mind-Body Connection

Dr. Heather Sandison: And so how do those things, changing your mindset, how does that impact the physical body? What's the physiology? What's going on there?

Sir John Hargrave: Well, actually I'm 104 years old, Heather. So I have done a great job I think maintaining my youthful appearance. I think that the mind-body connection is well documented. All you got to do is Google mind-body connection, and you'll see a lot of really great medical and even health insurance companies, Kaiser Permanente I just saw was like one of the top Google results on that. So it's well understood this, and I think well accepted this idea of the mind-body connection. And the more we can think in positive directions, the more likely our health is to move in positive directions as well.

Dr. Heather Sandison: So tell me, how did you get to 104 without a single gray hair?

Sir John Hargrave: Well, I do have a couple gray hairs right over here. I'm actually 52. I just cut it in half there.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And so can we think ourselves younger? You were kind of thinking yourself older, but can we go in the other direction?

Sir John Hargrave: I went the wrong way, didn't I? Yeah, I absolutely think that we can. I think that I'll tell you a true story. I injured my finger recently. I was chopping wood, and I accidentally was using a sledge hammer to sort of wedge the wood in. And I accidentally hit my finger with the sledge hammer. Did not feel good. And so what I've been doing ever since then is trying to visualize the programming that makes up my finger, like the matrix. Like there's this wire frame that somehow doing a 3D render of my finger, and I'm constantly visualizing that as completely perfect in every way, like an electron scan, constantly just covered in light and goodness and wholeness. And it seems to be working, seems to be good. It's not broken. Went to the doc, doc says, "Looking good." So that's the kind of technique that I use. And if nothing else, helps me feel better.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah.

Sir John Hargrave: It's much better than complaining about my finger.

The ‘Five Why’s’ Technique

Dr. Heather Sandison: So other practical tips you have to reprogram your brain for a better life? I'd love to just go through some of the things that you talk the listeners through in your book. So the five why's. Can you take us through those? And then tell us why that works, how does it work?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. So Kiichiro Toyoda was the founder of the Toyota Motor Company, and he innovated a lot of different business processes and technology processes. And one of these great innovations he came up with was called the five why's. And the idea was when something went wrong in his automobile production plants, he would encourage everybody to ask why five times because our habit as humans is to just look at the immediate or first order problems that are causing some things. So for example, if the timing belt was off on a car or on a model of car, they would ask why. Well, the why might be because there was a part that it was connected to that didn't have quite the right fit. And if you leave it at that, you might not actually get to the root of the problem. But then you ask why again. Well, why was because we had to use off the shelf parts instead of making something custom. Why did we do that? Because we had to rush production in order to meet our first quarter numbers. Why we did that? Because our production cycles and sales cycles are not aligned.

So by doing that, we get to this sort of root cause analysis that can help us really track down the true source of the problem. And the same goes with our minds. If we look not just at the first order effects or just that I feel embarrassed or I feel angry at him or I feel ashamed of what I just did, but we start to ask why and then why and then why and then why again. We can get in the habit of getting down to what you might call the core programming of what's causing that negative thought loop. So by doing that, we can really root out and do the debugging at its source. And then we can reprogram that piece, which will have much higher first, second, third, fourth, and fifth order effects down the road.

“The Worse Thing That Can Happen” Exercise

Dr. Heather Sandison: And you can see how this would be very easily applied in a manufacturing line but also in a family system, at work, at school. So in lots of different places where you would want to get to that root cause. Of course, any sort of complex system or process, that root cause analysis is going to get you much further than just that immediate problem.

Can you walk us through the worse thing that can happen exercise? How would you do that?

Sir John Hargrave: Yes. So this is another way of dealing with those uncomfortable feelings. We just talked about the five why's of getting to the root of it, but another thing we can do is when we have those fears or those anxieties, often they're a kind of nameless dread. I hear that a lot, especially these days. There's a lot of things that are causing us anxiety. But if we can try to articulate what is the worst that could happen. In other words, what is the worst case scenario that's brewing in my mind, even if it's not conscious at this point. So many people, for example, right now are afraid of leaving the house. Well, what's the worst case scenario? You might be afraid that you're going to catch COVID, you're going to bring it home. You're going to infect everyone you love, and everyone dies. That's it. That's your worst case scenario.

So when we actually put it into words and then write it down, we make a deal of writing things down because writing things down now brings it out of this sort of abstract cloud in our heads and puts it down, just like computer code now, with pen to paper. Then we have power over it, don't we? When we have it in writing, we now can look at it from above. So this is similar to that idea of looking down on our mind from above that I was just talking about. Now we can look at that fear from above. And it's extremely helpful. You may think it's terrifying to talk about your worst case scenario, and you might even feel superstitious about writing it down. But when you do, you find this odd sort of power that you have over it.

And then you can start to say, "Okay. Well, what would happen if that happened? Well, I'd be dead first of all, so it wouldn't matter." But in many cases, you could make contingency plans or you could figure out ways to sort of mitigate or hedge against that thing that you're so frightened of and it's really empowering.

The Powerful Effects of Written Affirmations

Dr. Heather Sandison: You talk about writing down goals on paper. So instead of writing down the things that you're worried about, writing down the things that you would like to achieve or like to see happen and the powerful effects of that. Why does that work?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, I read about this technique in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. It's a great book. If you haven't read it, it's really good. And he had a little notebook that he carried around with his virtues, the virtues that he wanted to sort of help blossom in his life. And every day, like a little score card, he would rate on how he did with each of these virtues. Then many years later I heard about this technique of written affirmations and whether it works or not. I decided to try for myself. So for many years I've been experimenting with this experiment of trying to write down my goal for the year. I write it down 15 times a day, and then measuring at the end of the year was I actually able to achieve the goal. Did the affirmation come true in some way or not? And I have about an 85% success rate I would say on the written affirmations.

But I do this every day. I use a little moleskin notebook. I've got it right here. This is my current one. I'll show it to you. I just did it this morning. My current one is I am living my highest good. There it is. So I write 15 times a day. I'm living my highest good. And I think it works for a couple reasons. One is I think that we have a reminder. It's like a constant reminder because too many of us, we set goals and then we forget that we set them. And life moves on, and we get distracted. So by doing this, it locks it in in a way that's very profound because you're using your muscles to do it. You're not just thinking. You're putting it into this physical reality. And that's the second thing is you're making it real by writing it down again and again. It's coming out of your head into some manifestation of physical reality right here.

And then finally, you create these habit grooves in the brain. So there's a lot of talk in neuroscience about our brains sort of lock into the way that we've habitually thought. And what you're doing is kind of creating new groove. We talk about a sled going down the hill and how sleds will lock into a sledded track that other people have cut, and that's what we want to do is cut these new habit grooves. So for that reason, I think it's a powerful practice.

Dr. Heather Sandison: So I'm curious about the example you use that's yours today, I'm living my highest good.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Sometimes I've heard people recommend using something you can measure. Whereas yours is definitely would be up to you to decide if you had achieved that. There's no number associated. Can you talk about your strategy there and if you've used one versus the other?

Sir John Hargrave: I've used them both. Yeah, it's a good question. I've used a lot of the quantifiable goals. It would be how much I'm going to earn or what I'm going to do in terms of certain projects I'm working on. And that's where I get my 85% number. I think I've been about 85% successful on those goals. But I came to a realization recently, which is there is a part of myself called the unconscious or subconscious that knows even more than I do what's best. And it's that part that I really want to unlock. So if I set a quantifiable goal, let's say I want to make a million dollars this year and I write that down every day, that's great. But (A) I don't know if that's what's best for me this year. It might be five million or it might be something entirely. And (B) there are all of these higher order things that I want to do that I'm not even consciously aware of yet.

So this is the one that I've landed on recently. I see all this as an experiment. This is my most recent experiment. But I've been doing this for about a year, and so far it's been pretty exciting.

Dr. Heather Sandison: I love that idea that you're leaving some of it up to the mystery of the universe or your highest self that we're not-

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, you're highest self.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, that's right. And I think there's nothing sort of woo-woo about that. I think that that is like in line with psychology, and it's saying that there are parts of me that know what's best for me than I do consciously myself.

Dr. Heather Sandison: So how do you know if you're successful?

Sir John Hargrave: Well, this one would be a much more subjective, but I can tell you that just subjectively speaking, things have really opened up in new and incredibly exciting ways since I've been doing this. And one of the things is for example, I'm very involved. My last two books that I wrote are all about this new blockchain based economy that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and all these. And I've really become something of an expert in that space. Well, that's something I never could've predicted when I was writing Mind Hacking. It's just a completely different direction. But it's been incredibly personally and professionally satisfying. I think that came out of doing this in large part.

From Comedy Writer to an Expert in Mind Hacking

Dr. Heather Sandison: So do I understand correctly you started out as a prankster.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. I'm a humor writer originally, so a comedy writer. We had one of the first comedy sites on the web called And out of that then came the first story in the book actually, which is how I got involved in mind hacking. And the short version of that story is I was doing a big prank at the time on Barack Obama who had just received the nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate. And the Secret Service showed up on my doorstep, and let me just say, Heather, when the Secret Service shows up, it's never a good thing. You don't want them at your house. I saw after they had left the house that the drinking and drugging I had been doing were leading me into such a dangerous path, and this was kind of the manifestation of that coming home to roost. And I realized I need to make some big changes.

So I threw away all of the alcohol in the house that night. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, and I found throwing the bottles in the trash was so hard for me that the only way I could get through it was by focusing on the muscle movement. It was the muscle memory of taking these bottles and throwing them in this dumpster behind the grocery store. So that was kind of my first mind hack was I realized if I think about the long term repercussions of never drinking again, I will never be able to do this tonight. But if I just focus on that muscle movement, I'll be able to do just this moment. Through that and many, many other mind hacks that I developed afterward, I was able to happily stay sober. And I've been sober ever since.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Wow. So from prankster to an expert in mind hacking. And you also have a media company.

Sir John Hargrave: Yes.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And you're a blockchain expert.

Sir John Hargrave: Yes.

How He Became Sir John Hargrave

Dr. Heather Sandison: Most people would not imagine that you could put all of those titles on the same person. Also, Sir. Can you just start with actually that one. How did you get your name?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. I'll tell you the quick version. So in my first book, it was a book of pranks called Prank the Monkey, the idea was I was going to go after the largest targets I could find in the world. So I went after all these celebrities. I went after the US Senate, the United Nations, and the Queen of England. So I said to myself, "Wouldn't it be great to prank the Queen?" So I wrote the Queen a letter, and I said, "Your majesty, I would like to be knighted." Because I just thought Sir John Hargrave had such a cool ring to it. Doesn't it? It's classy. Right?

Dr. Heather Sandison: Indeed.

Sir John Hargrave: So I wrote her, and I got a letter back from Buckingham Palace, and it says, "Well, I'm sorry. But you have to do something honorable." I was like, "Well, that's a lot of work." So I took the shortcut, and I went down to my local county courthouse. You can pay to have your name changed legally for like $75. So I went in before a judge, and here I am today Sir John Hargrave.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And it probably helps. I'm sure people look twice at whatever you send them with that title there. Is that true?

Sir John Hargrave: I'm going to bring it back to mind hacking now. So the funny thing about this is perception dictates reality. As we say again and again in the book, when you hack, we talk about Steve Jobs. He created this thing called the reality distortion field. So all these coworkers with Steve Jobs would be like... He would go, "I want this thing done. I want it done by Saturday." And everybody go like, "But it's Friday night, Steve." He would just get you in this room and convince you that it was possible. And these were very well educated, very smart, very technical people who would say, "It's like he has a reality distortion field. You fall into it and you believe that anything's possible."

So this reality distortion field is something that we all have the power of creating, and going back to Sir John Hargrave, it is a weird sort of reality distortion field that is risen up around this name. And the more people say it, and it's on all my books, and the more people repeat it, it has made me want to be a better person. It has made me want to be someone who is actually worthy of the title Sir John Hargrave. So in a funny sort of way you really do create your own reality that you then live into in the future.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Right. Inspired to do something honorable I suppose.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And do you get some people raising eyebrows, a little surprised? I wasn't sure if you were going to have a British accent or not.

Sir John Hargrave: Yes. Yes. That's common. Where is your accent? You imposter.

Feel, Do, Have, Give, Be

Dr. Heather Sandison: So feel, do, have, give, be. Talk us through those.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. So this is the opposite now of the debugging of the worst possible scenario. And this is now where we're visualizing what we want. And I think one of the hardest things for most of us is to articulate what we want. We all know what we don't want. It's easy to complain about the things we don't like in our life, but actually proactively determining what it is we want is extremely difficult. So we have some easy prompts in the book to basically help you determine what it is you want, and there are five words-feel, do, have, give, be-and the idea is to get one word that represents each of those things that you want in your life. So the prompts are: what is the one where it describes how you would like to feel-that's feel; what is the one thing you've always wanted to do-that's do; what is the one thing you would like to have-that's have; what's the one thing that you would like to contribute to the world-that's give; and what is the one adjective that describes who you would like to be-that's be. So feel, do have, give, be.

And once you've gone through those, and they don't have to be perfect. You just get five words that talk about what you want now. You can put them in your little Mole Skin notebook, and you can use that as your daily written exercise to really lock those things in and create those habit grooves in the brain.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Is it important you keep referring back to your Mole Skin notebook, which is very gorgeous by the way?

Sir John Hargrave: Thank.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Is there something to having it be a physical thing like that versus talking into maybe an app on your phone or typing on the computer? Is there something different about writing it down in a book?

Sir John Hargrave: I've tried them all. So I've tried writing it like in an app or on my computer. I think that works. I think that's fine if that's what you've got. I have found that there's something very satisfying about writing it down and especially in a high quality notebook. It's like I'm getting paid by Mole Skin. I'm really not. By the way, no mole skins are used in the cover I found. No moles are harmed in making these. That's the brand name. But having a really nice notebook and a nice pen and doing that every day, I do think there's something very meditative and contemplative about that muscle motion, that movement of writing things out.

Speaking for myself, I do it so rarely. This is like the only thing I write in my life anymore because everything's on the computer. That it does I think lock it into the brain in a different way and create new habit grooves. But it's more important to do it than it is to do it in a nice notebook. And as long as you're doing it, and that goes with all of these exercises, all of these hacks, the most important thing is just to get started, just to do it.

Dr. Heather Sandison: One of the more satisfying things is, for me personally, is going back to those books from a few years ago and opening them up and being like, "Oh wow, I did do that. It happened." To see that when you wrote it down, it might've felt out of reach or too much or whatever it was. You may have judged it in some way, and then to have that experience of retrospect and realize that you could do it and say, "Okay. Now let me double down. Now's the time to go see what the next reach is, the next thing I'd like to accomplish and see how powerful that can be."

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. We're always planting seeds that are going to be harvested in the future. So even today, you have the opportunity to go plant a seed that is going to pay off, days, weeks, months, maybe years from today. And that's what you're talking about is to go back and remember when you planted those seeds. It's very powerful. And it gives you motivation and energy to do it again today for something that's even bigger. That's a lot of the book is creating these spirals, these self-reinforcing spirals that take us to greater and greater accomplishments in the same way a code base can be used to make more and more complicated and technically beautiful programs. That's what runs all of our software today. They started as these tiny little applications, and today they've evolved into Facebook or the internet.

Mental Decluttering 

Dr. Heather Sandison: So a lot of this is the foundation is creating habits. Do you have other tricks for getting out of those hard ruts that we get stuck in in creating these good, new positive habits?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Let me look here.

Yeah. So one is decluttering. So mental decluttering. A lot of what drains our energy, it's been called a willpower battery as if we only have a certain amount of willpower each day when we wake up. And what drains that willpower battery are the interruptions that come at us, and they're both internal interruptions. So it's unwanted, unpleasant thoughts, emotions, feelings, and it's external interruptions and that might be all of our digital distractions.

So one of the things, one of the exercises in the book is to go do a deep clean of all of the digital distractions that are out there on your computer and on your phone. So this would be like silencing audible text alerts or it's turning off the interruptions on all the apps that you don't really need to be interrupted for. And it's basically trying to simplify and streamline that every day experience, and there's a lot of research that shows that those distractions have a real impact, a negative impact on us because they take us away from the deep concentration, the deep focus that we might be having on our work or things that are really important. And they pull us into this relatively unimportant tweet that somebody just put out.

So we want to try to turn off as much of that as possible so that we can streamline and simplify, and then we can start to focus on the internal distractions or managing the thoughts and feelings.

Tips on Reducing Decision Fatigue

Dr. Heather Sandison: I'm curious, you talk a bit about Steve Jobs, and he made a very conscious decision to wear a black turtle neck and jeans every single day. And this was around the idea of decision fatigue I believe.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And I certainly get to the end of my day, and my husband will say, "What do you want for dinner?" And I'm like, "I can't. I cannot make a decision. Please don't ask me. I just need to eat." So I'm curious if you have hacks for that. How to reduce decision fatigue throughout the day?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, meditation. I know exactly what you mean. I have a very demanding job, and at the end of the day, I call it either the willpower battery or sometimes we call it psychic fatigue. I have no psychic energy to give you right now. So I have a meditation practice, which in the book we call it Jedi mind training, but I do it twice a day. I do it in the morning and then at the evening before dinner. And I find that that little brief period of meditation, 15-20 minutes in the evening really helps recharge that willpower batter, and it helps mentally reset everything. And I'm much more refreshed. It's like a nap, a psychic nap, and then I'm able to go and deal much more effectively with the end part of my day.

What’s Next for Sir John Hargrave

Dr. Heather Sandison: So what's on the horizon for you? I can't wait because this story of your life has so many twists and turns that no one would've predicted. What do you see happening over the next decade or so?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. It's pretty exciting. It's pretty fun. Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm really into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and you may follow the news on that. But that has done very well. And our team has made a real contribution in helping people frame this new world of money in a way that is within the reach of just ordinary investors, ordinary people and helping them understand how to use this. And sometimes I look at that and go, "Well, what we've really done is we've kind of hacked the entire global financial system with this new invention." We didn't invent Bitcoin, but we have certainly helped put it into a framework that makes sense for most people.

So I think that's mind hacking kind of at another level. The levels that we're working at right now are pretty phenomenal.

You mentioned the media company that we have, and the impact that we're having with our media company, Media Shower. It's a global communication company now as well. So it's pretty exciting where it's all going.

I would love to come back to mind hacking at some point and kind of talk about advanced mind hacking techniques because there's been a lot of things that I've learned and I've kind of added to that stock of tricks and techniques since the book was first published.

The Role of Humor Play in Mind Hacking

Dr. Heather Sandison: What role does humor play in mind hacking?

Sir John Hargrave: Well, it's fun. It's fun to laugh, isn't it?

Dr. Heather Sandison: Absolutely.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah, it's good. It's good. It's refreshing. I think that when you mentioned the willpower fatigue and I do think that's another way of managing that is sometimes when I'm at that point where I feel spent, sort of mentally spent, I'll say, "I must watch something funny tonight." So we'll all turn on something funny, and it does have a sort of restorative effect. So I think it's another hack. It's another tool, another technique that can be used to give us more energy and to do more great things.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah. It sounds to me like in your story, although it's kind of these unpredicted twists and turns, they each kind of build on each other. There's writing and communicating through humor and these pranks and kind of trying to get at the man. And then using these mind hacks to sort of rewrite the story. And then the media company, which is again about communication, and then applying some of these techniques to the financial system.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah.

Dr. Heather Sandison: There's a grace to it, an unpredictable storyline there, which is kind of where it all started.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Thank you for saying that. I see it the same way, and I see it as a life well lived is a very unpredictable and strange and wonderful journey. It really is. I think that all of us no matter how unusual or disparate our paths may be and seemingly disjointed and disconnected, we can find a throw line. We can find a story line that connects them all, and we can see that, "Ah, this lead to this, and this lead to this, and this lead to this. And it wasn't clear to me at the time, these two things seem just worlds apart. And yet I was able to sort of be the glue that kind of pulled all of that together." And there's a real magic in that, to be able to tell that story both to others and also to ourselves. It makes life worthwhile. 

Authenticity Means You Are Trying To Be Yourself

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah. Then we can get back to your affirmations, to really lean into that, to use the magic of that to see what's next.

Sir John Hargrave: I'm a big believer in authenticity, and that word gets a lot of maybe inauthentic use. It's kind of a cliché, but to me, authenticity means you are trying to be yourself. You are trying to express your own personality in its fullest sense, and you have a one-of-a-kind personality. You, Heather. But also everyone listening, you have this unique and precious gift, which is your personality. And the more you can develop it and express your own individuality, your own uniqueness, the more you'll have to offer to the world. People are afraid to do this because we all want to look like somebody else that is successful. But ultimately the more we can be authentic, the more we can be ourselves, I think the more successful we can be.

Dr. Heather Sandison: And what I gather from the book is that that debugging is sort of getting out of our own way in that process.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Yeah. That's right. So the debugging is basically it's all about trying to log into... In computer terms, it'd be called the administrator level account. So like an admin account is an account that has special powers over all the other user accounts in the system. And when you have this admin level access, you have this magic super user power. And when we can get into that state in our own minds, then we can look down and start identifying through these techniques we've been talking about, where that buggy thinking is happening.

So for example, I just talked about being authentic, and we might think, "Well, I'm not good enough because I don't have this education," or, "I don't have this experience," or, "I don't have these friends or these social connections or this job," or what have you. And when we get into that super use, that admin level type thinking, we can look down on that and realize that that's what's behind what we're thinking. It might not even be conscious, but then we can say, "Wait a minute, I don't necessarily need that job," or, "I could get that job by doing something," or, "I do have this set of skills." And we can start to root out that problem thought that really is holding us back in a very real way because it's creating our reality, and we can start to replace it with better programming, better thoughts that are going to move our life into a better direction.

Dr. Heather Sandison: So most important question, does this apply whether you use a Mac or a PC?

Sir John Hargrave: That's a good question. I haven't been asked that one. Yes. It will work, and both Android and iPhone.

More About Sir John Hargrave

Dr. Heather Sandison: Excellent. All right. So if anyone wants to learn more about you and what you have to offer, where can they go to find out more?

Sir John Hargrave: Well, first of all the book is free. So you can buy a copy, of course, at Amazon, but you can also read it for free online at Mind Hacking, and that's It'll be in the show notes. And that's a full copy of the book. And then there's also within there a link to an email list, which will send you the full Mind Hacking Program. So there's 21 days of exercises, and it will email you each one for 21 days. And then finally, there's a link there to an online community of people who are practicing mind hacking together through an online tool called Coach Me, and you can basically track your progress and talk with other members of the community.

Dr. Heather Sandison: I'm curious what made you publish the whole book online. There's a financial incentive for you to just sell it and have people buy it. Why did you choose to publish it this way?

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. It was a big risk, and I give credit to my publishers at Simon and Schuster's Gallery Books. No one had really ever done anything like this with a traditionally published book, but I'm a big believer in open source. So open source is the concept of making computer code that's free to the world, that anybody can go and edit and reuse and modify. And it's a big movement. I think very important. I said I want to make sort of an-

Dr. Heather Sandison: You put Stallman in the same category as Gandhi and King.

Sir John Hargrave: That's right. Yeah. Who is one of the founders of the open source movement. So I said I want this technique to basically be open source. I want everybody to have equal access to this. And in the traditional publishing industry, this makes no sense. Why would people pay for a book that you're giving away for free online? But we did a couple things with the print book. One is we had a custom worksheet. So there were some goodies with the print book, and the audiobook actually has 21 days of guided meditations. So I actually take you through all of these different techniques over 21 days.

Well, the Audible book became an Audible bestseller, and like broke all sales records. It's really remarkable to me that when we give something away, paradoxically, it can actually mean that the message gets spread wider and more people come in and buy the official product. So it was a real fascinating lesson, and I'm really glad we did it that way.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah, what a neat experiment. I have to tell you that my experience of reading through the online version that was free in preparation for this made me want to go buy the Audible one so that I could be listening to it and getting these messages on repeat really.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. The Audible book is great, and we put a lot of work into that. I think it's the guided meditations I'm really proud of, and so many people have written and said, "I really love having those, and they've made a big difference."

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today and for your time, sharing your time.

Sir John Hargrave: It was fun.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Yeah, a lot of fun. And so many great hacks that we can all take home and start using today.

Sir John Hargrave: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Heather Sandison: Such a pleasure.

Jacquelyn: This episode of Collective Insights was hosted by Dr. Heather Sandison and produced by Jacklyn [Luhara 00:42:39]. This podcast is for informational purposes only. The podcast is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should not use the information on the podcast for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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