The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms

by Vishen Lakhiani


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • What if everything we think we know about how the world works—our ideas of love, education, spirituality, work, happiness, and love—are based on Brules (bullsh*t rules) that get passed from generation to generation and are long past their expiration date?

This book teaches you to think like some of the greatest non-conformist minds of our era, to question, challenge, hack, and create new rules for YOUR life so you can define success on your own terms.

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is a blueprint of laws to break us free from the shackles of an ordinary life. It makes a case that everything we know about the world is shaped by conditioning and habit. And thus, most people live their lives based on limiting rules and outdated beliefs about pretty much everything—love, work, money, parenting, sex, health, and more—which they inherit and pass on from generation to generation.

But what if you could remove these outdated ideas and start anew? What would your life look like if you could forget the rules of the past, and redefine what happiness, purpose, and success mean for you?

Not Just a Book, but a Movement
Blending computational thinking, integral theory, modern spirituality, evolutionary biology, and humor, personal growth entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani provides a revolutionary 10-point framework for understanding and enhancing the human self. You will learn about bending reality. You will learn how to apply unique models like consciousness engineering to help you learn and grow at speeds like never before.You will learn to make a dent in the universe and discover your quest. This framework is based on Lakhiani’s personal experiences, the 5 million people he’s reached through Mindvalley, and 200 hours of interviews and questions posed to incredible minds, including Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Ken Wilber, Dean Kamen, Arianna Huffington, Michael Beckwith, and other legendary leaders.

In a unique fusion of cutting-edge ideas, personal stories, irreverence, and a brilliant teaching style, Lakhiani reveals the 10 powerful laws that form a step-by-step process that you can apply to life to shed years of struggle and elevate yourself to exceptional new heights.

The 10 Laws to an Extraordinary Life
This book challenges conventional ideas of relationships, goal-setting, mindfulness, happiness, and meaning. In a unique fusion of cutting-edge ideas, personal stories, and humorous irreverence, and not to mention, humor and napkin diagrams, this framework combines computational thinking with personal growth to provide a powerful framework for re-coding yourself—and replacing old, limiting models that hold you back with new, empowering beliefs and behaviors that set you on the path toward an extraordinary life. A life of more happiness and achievement than you might have dared to dream possible.

Once you discover the code, you will question your limits and realize that there are none. Step into a new understanding of the world around you and your place in it, and find yourself operating at a new, extraordinary level in every way...happiness, purpose, fulfilment, and love.

This Book Is a Living, Breathing Manifesto That Goes Beyond a Traditional Publication
For those who want more, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind connects to a full on immersive experience including ways for you to dive into particular chapters to unlock additional videos or training and connect with each other and the author to learn via peer-to-peer learning networks.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593135822
Publisher: Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 12/31/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 46,335
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Vishen Lakhiani is one of the most influential personalities in personal growth today. A computer engineer and entrepreneur in education technology, he is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a 200-person strong company that specializes in learning experience design, creating digital platforms and apps that power online academies in personal growth, mindfulness, wellbeing, productivity, and more. He is also a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and sits on the Innovation Board for XPRIZE Foundation. An internationally recognized speaker on personal growth and transformation, Vishen’s mission is to revolutionize the global education system by bringing new models of enhancing human potential to people everywhere and building a school for Humanity 2.0.

Read an Excerpt



Where We Learn to Question the Rules of the World We Live In

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. That is—everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. . . . Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.


The gleaming waters of Lake Washington were stunning from where I stood on the grassy lawn of a grand home. Conversation hummed around me. Glasses clinked as wine was poured. The sweet, spicy aroma of barbecue filled the air.

Just behind me stood Bill Gates, the owner of that home. One of the wealthiest men in the world and the legendary founder of tech giant Microsoft, he was chatting with his other young guests.

I was twenty-two and a few weeks into my job as a Microsoft intern, celebrating at the annual barbecue at Bill Gates's home to welcome Microsoft's newbies. Back then, Microsoft was the company to get into, equivalent to working for Apple or Google today. And I was in!

There was so much excitement in the air—we were like young Hogwarts students meeting Dumbledore for the first time.

I'd labored toward this goal for years, first working my butt off to get good grades in high school so I could gain admission to one of the best engineering colleges in the world—the University of Michigan, where I studied electrical engineering and computer science. In Malaysia, where I'd lived until the age of nineteen, as in other parts of Asia, it was the norm for families and educators to promote the idea of growing up to become an engineer, lawyer, or doctor. As a kid, I remember being told that if you were smart, that's what you did. It was just kind of how that world operated.

Yet the sad truth was that I dreaded my computer engineering classes in college. What I really wanted to be was a photographer or a stage actor. Photography and performing arts were the only classes where I got As. But those were not acceptable careers at all, according to the rules. So, I gave them up for programming. After all, I had to be practical and realistic. Get good grades. Get a good job. Work the nine-to-five. Save my money for a healthy retirement. Do it right and I would be a "success."

And I was beginning to succeed. It felt amazing to be honored with this opportunity to be in Bill's home and to be working at this company, then in its heyday. My professors were elated for me. My parents were thrilled. It made the hours of study and my parents' sacrifices worthwhile. I'd done everything that had been asked of me. Now it was time to reap the rewards. I had arrived. And I was standing in the home of Bill frickin' Gates with my career laid out before me.

But deep inside, I knew I had a problem.

On that fateful day in the summer of 1998, I had simultaneously accomplished two things: first, the completion of a long, many-year journey, and second, the painful realization that I had been walking in the wrong direction the entire damn time.

See, I genuinely disliked my job. I'd sit in my private office at Microsoft headquarters, staring at my triple-screen monitor, and count the minutes until I could escape. I disliked the work so much that, even though Bill Gates was standing just a few feet away from me surrounded by my colleagues, I felt too ashamed to shake his hand. I felt I shouldn't be there.

So a few weeks later, I quit.

Okay, I got fired.

I was too chicken to take charge and quit. To study at a top computer engineering college, get the coveted interview, and then snag the even-more- coveted job at the company my fellow students were dying to get into—to get that far and then quit was going to disappoint a lot of people.

So I did the next best thing a spineless twenty-two-year-old could do. I deliberately got myself fired. I simply goofed off and got caught playing video games at my desk way too many times during office hours until my manager was forced to fire me. So, as they say, that happened.

I went back to college and limped to the finish line. I had no idea what I was going do after graduation and felt almost stupid for blowing my huge opportunity with Microsoft.

As it turns out, getting out of there was the smart thing to do. I wasn't just quitting a job (and a career path)—I had also decided to quit following the socially approved rules for how life is supposed to work.


When I went my own way rather than choosing the path of the practical and realistic job, it wasn't because I thought there was anything wrong with being a computer engineer. But I did—and still do—think there's something wrong with the idea that we should work at something we have no passion for, just because it's the norm or the rule in the world we're born into.

Yet many of us do just that. According to a Gallup study surveying more than 150,000 Americans, 70 percent of respondents said they were "disengaged" from their jobs. Given the amount of time we spend at work, a job we have no passion for puts us at risk of living a life we have no passion for. But it's not just our ideas about careers that are faulty. Consider these additional stats:

40 to 50 percent of US marriages end in divorce.

A Harris poll showed that only 33 percent of Americans polled claimed to be "very happy."

According to CNBC, "a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which examined debt through the generations . . . found that eight in ten Americans are in debt in some fashion, most often because of a mortgage."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one- third of adults in the United States are now obese.

Thus, our careers, our love lives, our happiness, our financial standing, and our health are all in conditions that are pretty inadequate. How did we get here, and how do we escape?

There are many reasons why these things happen. But I submit to you that one big reason is the tyranny of rules—rules that suggest we "should" do life in a particular way because everyone else seems to be doing it, too:

I should take this job.

I should date/marry this type of person.

I should go to this college.

I should major in this subject.

I should live in this city.

This is how I should look.

This is how I should feel.

Don't get me wrong. People sometimes have to take jobs they dislike in order to make ends meet. They have to live in places they wouldn't choose because it's all they can afford at the time or because they have family responsibilities.

But there's a big difference between bending to life's necessities and blindly accepting that you must live your life according to preconceived rules. One of the keys to being extraordinary is knowing what rules to follow and what rules to break. Outside the rules of physics and the rules of law, all other rules are open to questioning.

To understand this, we first have to understand why these rules exist in the first place.


Who made up the rules of the modern world anyway? To try to answer that question, let's take a quick leap into the beginnings of human history.

In his fascinating book Sapiens, historian Yuval Noah Harari, PhD, puts forward the idea that at a certain point in history, there could have been as many as six different types of humans living on the planet at once. There was Homo sapiens, which is what we all are. But there were also Homo neanderthalensis, Homo soloensis, and Homo erectus, among others.

But over time, all of the nonsapiens, such as the Neanderthals, died out, leaving Homo sapiens as our prehistoric grandmother or grandfather.

What helped sapiens survive?

The reason for our ultimate dominance, according to Dr. Harari, was our use of language—and specifically, its complexity in comparison to others'. Primatologists who have studied monkeys have found that monkeys can alert others in their group to danger, along the lines of, say, "Look out— tiger!"

But our sapiens forebears had very different brains. In contrast, sapiens could say, in effect, "Hey, this morning I saw a tiger by the river, so let's chill here until the tiger leaves to hunt, and then we can go there to eat, okay?"

Our sapiens ancestors had the ability to communicate complex information important to survival through the effective use of language. Language allowed us to organize groups of people—to share news of dangers or opportunities. To create and teach practices and habits: to communicate not just where the berries were on the riverbank but also how to pick, cook, and preserve them, what to do if someone ate too many, and even who should have the first and biggest helping. Language allowed us to preserve knowledge by passing it from person to person, parent to child, generation to generation.

It's difficult to overstate the power successive generations gained from literally not having to reinvent the wheel. Language gave rise to beautiful complexity on every level.

But the biggest advantage of language is that it allowed us to create a whole new world within our heads. We could use it to create things that didn't exist in the physical world but simply as "understandings" in our heads: to form alliances, establish tribes, and develop guidelines for cooperation within and between larger and larger groups. It allowed us to form cultures, mythologies, and religions. On the flip side, though, it also allowed us to go to war over those cultures, mythologies, and religions.

These changes and more, driven by advances in our thinking and enhanced by our ability to use language to share what we knew, were truly revolutionary- -indeed, taken together, Dr. Harari calls this the cognitive revolution.


If you don't believe how pervasively language shaped us and our world, here's some intriguing research pointing to its power.

Did the color blue exist in ancient cultures? According to a Radiolab podcast entitled "Why Isn't the Sky Blue?" in ancient times there was no word for blue in numerous languages. Homer, in The Odyssey, didn't mention the color blue for the sky or for the Aegean Sea, which he called wine- dark. Nor did the word blue appear in other ancient writings otherwise rich with description and visual detail.

So the question arises: If there's no word for a thing, can you see it?

Researcher Jules Davidoff studied this question among a particular tribe called the Himba, in Namibia. The Himba have many different words for green but no word for blue.

As part of the research, the tribe members were shown a circular pattern of squares. All of the squares were green except for one that was obviously blue like in the image below:

Oddly, when tribe members were shown the image and were asked to point to the outlier, they either couldn't select the blue square as the different one, were slower to do so, or chose the wrong square.

But when shown a similar circular pattern of green squares with one square a subtly different (and to many of us difficult to discern) shade of green, they quickly found it.

What would be easy for us was not easy for them. What would be difficult for us was easy for them. The Himba had no word for blue and thus could not easily identify a blue square from a collection of green squares—a task simple enough for most of us. Yet they could discern shades of green we would never notice.

So it seems that what language delineates, we can more easily discern. Our language shapes what we "see."


How miraculous was this ability language gave us to step back and observe our lives—to scope out that riverbank, assess risk and opportunity, and then seek not only advantage for ourselves but also go back to our tribe and share our thoughts with others. Together we became more aware, better able to plan for and prevail over challenges, and capable of inventing solutions to problems and then being able to teach those solutions to others. Language became the building blocks to culture.

These guidelines for living, developed and passed on through language, eventually evolved into the rules that govern our cultures. Our cultures helped us make sense of our world, process events quickly, create religions and nation-states, train our children so they'd be more likely to thrive, and open up mental and physical bandwidth to do more with our big brains than just try to survive until tomorrow.

Of course, there's a darker side to culture: when we get so focused on our rules that we turn them into decrees about how life "should" be and label people or processes as good or bad if they don't follow the rules. This is how you should live. This is how you should dress. This is how women, children, the sick, the elderly, or the "different" should be treated. My tribe is superior to your tribe. My ways are right, which means that yours are wrong. My beliefs are right, and yours are wrong. My God is the only God. We create these complex worlds and then literally defend them with our lives. The language and rules that define our culture can cost lives as much as cultivate them.


With this vast structure of beliefs and practices that we developed for navigating the world, we actually created a new world layered on top of the one we lived every day on the proverbial riverbank. We've been living in two worlds ever since.

There's the physical world of absolute truth. This world contains things we're all likely to agree on: This is the riverbank; rocks are hard; water is wet; fire is hot; tigers have big teeth and it hurts when they bite you. No arguments there.

But there's also the world of relative truth. It's the mental world of ideas, constructs, concepts, models, myths, patterns, and rules that we've developed and passed from generation to generation—sometimes for thousands of years. This is where concepts such as marriage, money, religion, and laws reside. This is relative truth because these ideas are true only for a particular culture or tribe. Socialism, democracy, your religion, ideas about education, love, marriage, career, and every other "should" are nothing more than relative truths. They are simply not true for ALL human beings.

Table of Contents

Before You Begin: Know That This is Not Your Typical Book xiii

Introduction xvii

Part I Living in the Culturescape: How You Were Shaped by the World around You

Chapter 1 Transcend the Culturescape 3

Where We Learn to Question the Rules of the World We Live In

Chapter 2 Question the Brules 21

Where We Learn That Much of How the World Runs Is Based on Bulls**t Rules Passed Down from Generation to Generation

Part II The Awakening: The Power to Choose Your Version of the World

Chapter 3 Practice Consciousness Engineering 47

Where We Learn How to Accelerate Our Growth by Consciously Choosing What to Accept or Reject from the Culturescape

Chapter 4 Rewrite Your Models of Reality 69

Where We Learn to Choose and Upgrade Our Beliefs

Chapter 5 Upgrade Your Systems for Living 95

Where We Discover How to Get Better at Life by Constantly Updating Our Daily Systems

Part III Recoding Yourself: Transforming Your Inner World

Chapter 6 Bend Reality 117

Where We Identify the Ultimate State of Human Existence

Chapter 7 Live in Blissipline 133

Where We Learn about the Important Discipline of Maintaining Daily Bliss

Chapter 8 Create a Vision for Your Future 153

Where We Learn How to Make Sure That the Goals We're Chasing Will Really Lead to Long-Term Happiness

Part IV Becoming Extraordinary: Changing the World

Chapter 9 Be Unfuckwithable 175

Where We Learn How to Be Fear-Proof

Chapter 10 Embrace Your Quest 191

Where We Learn How to Put It All Together and Live a Life of Meaning

Appendix: Tools for Your Journey 215

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: The Online Experience 245

Glossary 249

Sources 253

Acknowledgments 257

Index 259

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