The following post was sponsored by Mike Cernovich and written by Winston Smith
I recently had the pleasure of reading Mike Cernovich’s new book Gorilla Mindset, and wanted to share a few things that I learned.
Gorilla in your mind
A governing concept of the book is the dichotomy between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset, or one that believes innately in its own limitations, seems all-too-common among the millennial generation of instant gratification and participation trophies.
Mike starts right off by forcing you to take accountability for the way your life is progressing, since how you have chosen to frame your world affects your ability to improve it. On the matter of negative internal dialogue, he writes:
If you talked to your friends like you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any friends.
Self-talk is one of the important components in developing a growth mindset. Mike walks you through the steps necessary for many visualization exercises that can have an immediate impact. However, being a down-to-earth human, Mike knows when he’s telling you something that sounds corny or may be a bit embarrassing, so he makes sure to provide ample justification and the real-life examples to start habits that you may initially find strange, but will soon be indispensable parts of your routine.
One of my favorite parts of the book emphasizes how to connect with other people, a lost art in a world where people spend hours a day looking at their phones and increasingly little time really interfacing with other people. Mike writes:
To make deeper connections, you want the person you’re talking to feel like the only person in the room. Mindfulness is helpful. When you feel distracted during a conversation, you can help yourself check in by using these two powerful mantras. I use them regularly, especially when there’s a lull in conversation.
- There’s no place else I’d rather be.
- There’s no one else I want to see.
When you tell yourself this, you actually believe it. When you believe there is nowhere else you’d rather be and no one else you’d rather see, the other person can feel it. You will make deeper, longer-lasting connections through this mindfulness technique.
Unlike other books in this genre, Mike focuses first on the internal benefits of rewiring your thought process. This isn’t a
“Get motivated so you can squat 500 pounds and make a million dollars!”-style book. However, if you’re willing to make a small time investment to gain tangible improvements in the overall happiness and quality of your life, the chapters about fixing your mental processes are a perfect fit.
In this section, Mike also touches on the modern state of people in a permanent ADHD, where most of us can’t peel our eyes from our phones for a few minutes. One of the most helpful parts of the book was the exercises that promote living “in the moment,” which both reduce anxiety and make it easier to concentrate on the goals at hand. I won’t spoil the specific techniques here, but they are quite useful.
Gorilla in your lifestyle
Branching off of the mindset exercises, the next segment of the book takes you through ways to improve your external lifestyle and habits. Mike covers his how-to list for sleep, willpower, warming up your mind in the morning, contrast showers, and many other things you’ve read about here and there on the internet, but distills the reasoning for them into a fast-paced and readable format.
For example, do you think of yourself as just another guy who’s going to sit in an office all day? Mike makes the convincing case that you should prepare yourself for your day-to-day life the same way an elite athlete prepares for a competition.
Gorilla Mindset shift: “My day is a serious athletic endeavor that requires me to actively warm up my body and mind.”
I’ve tried Mike’s warmups for the last few days. In short: they work. By adding this quick tip to my lifestyle, I have been more productive at work and feel more centered throughout the day. This doesn’t even mention the valuable information about how to improve your willpower.
Gorilla for your body
The focus of this section is upon principles and how-tos rather than repeating tired dogma. Mike’s tone is not “you must eat the paleo diet,” but rather “here are studies that suggest how you can improve blood flow.” Not just “you need to breathe more,” but rather “here’s an explanation of the value of breathing and a few exercises to accomplish it.”
Mike writes in the same no-nonsense tone that you will recognize from his other sites, but strikes a useful balance of advocacy while avoiding proselytizing. He also includes helpful interviews with subject matter experts to give the book an even more authentic feel and a couple of different voices. My favorite part of this segment was the full section devoted to improving mood (and testosterone levels) with posture exercises, which I have found myself referring back to several times.
If there is one modest criticism I could levy at Gorilla Mindset, I would be that you may see some of the content as a review if you have strong familiarity with Mike’s past work. However, even if you’re Mike’s biggest fan, Gorilla Mindset will pay for itself in the hours it saves you from filtering through Mike’s prolific online presence spread across 100+ podcasts, at least 5 blogs, and thousands of solid Twitter comments.
Because of the sheer volume of information it may be one you reread many times even if you are familiar with Mike’s brand, and for this reason it is a good purchase for everyone on the spectrum. The book is available in Kindle, print, and now audio (with two chapters free).
Perhaps the strongest takeaway message in Gorilla Mindset is that of personal responsibility. Even if you don’t remember all of the specific breathing techniques, diet tips, psychological hacks, and potentially life-changing perspective shifts, the book still leaves you with an overwhelming sense that you control your own destiny.
In a world that constantly deprives us of our sense of possibility and agency, that alone is worth the price of admission.