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Life Hacks

Mental Models: Use Them to Hardwire Your Brain to Get What You Want

Mental models for self improvement

Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash


Mental models are a guidebook to humanity.

If there were ever a shortcut to living better, with less stress, more time and tonnes more joy, it would be the concept of mental models.

The problem with mental models is they sound like they’re written by scientists. That’s why most of us normies don’t use them or understand their power. I’m here to abolish the BS.

Our experiences help us unconsciously or consciously create a group of beliefs and ideas. They narrate the thoughts in our heads, tell us what to do in different situations, and help us make sense of the world we live in. So they’re pretty bloody important.

Neuroscience expert and PhD candidate Anne-Laure Le Cunff says “They’re basically thinking tools — shortcuts for reasoning.”

These unconventional mental models will help you get what you want.

Red pill content

Entrepreneur Shaan Puri has an awesome mental model for anybody who creates content. Most online content is a snoozefest. This is because creators haven’t stumbled across the red pill mental model.

Hand society something they’re not hearing anywhere. Society says blue pill. Your content says red pill. Shaan (via George Mack)

Images created by author using Canva

Writer Ayodeji Awosika is one of the best creators at using the red pill model to move hearts and minds. This hidden technique has built his entire career. Took me years of reading his work to discover his mental model.

Good content is not about what is right and wrong. No. Good content has a red pill that makes people think (that’s a red pill, too). Develop different ways of looking at cliche ideas. Dare to challenge people’s beliefs in content you publish online, otherwise, you sound like every other schmuck.

What’s your red pill?

Intellectual Compounding

Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet are hailed as the high priests of the investment world. People would happily spit shine their shoes for 5 seconds of investment advice.

There’s one problem. Charlie and old mate Warren aren’t investors. They’re collectors of mental models. They’re literally obsessed. Einstein calls financial compounding the 8th wonder of the world. Invest money, reinvest the returns, and wait many years. That’s how most people get filthy Lambo rich.

The co-creator of the game Farmville, Sizhao Yang, taught me about intellectual compounding. Munger and Buffett are both obsessed with reading. They read to collect mental models, not to be entertained by Harry Potter authors for sh*ts and giggles.

Sizhao says their collection of mental models allows them to “make large decisions quickly.” Those decisions help them invest money, reinvest the profits, and make squillions over multiple decades. This is done with intuition built on a foundation of strong mental models.

The takeaway he says is this: Intuition is simply reading a lot.

Read to collect mental models that improve your intuition and allow you to intellectually compound your knowledge into enormous value. That’s how you become a Buffet/Munger badass.

The Shopify Founder uses Crocker’s Law

Crocker is an editor at Wikipedia. He wanted everybody who edited his pages on the site to do so without painful sorries.

Feedback on his pages is how they became better. That’s a gift. He wanted to remove roadblocks that stopped people being blunt with their comments. So he made it clear for people to be ruthless with their critiques.

The key to this strategy is he took full accountability for his mental state. When he got offended he saw it as his fault. Nice.

Just give me the raw feedback without all the sh*t sandwich around it. It’s not meant to hurt. It’s meant to move things forward, to demystify something for you. I want frank feedback from everyone — Tobi Lutke (via George Mack)

Imagine if you used Crocker’s law to stop being offended by every damn thing. Well, then you’d be unstoppable. There’d be no critics blocking the doorway to your dreams.

The Rolls Royce contrast hack explains naughty, high-priced purchases

Rolls Royce, like any car company, used to exhibit their vehicles at car shows to make sales and bleed everyday humans of their life savings. At one point in their history they simply ceased going to car shows.

They started showing their cars off at exclusive aircraft shows. A Rolls Royce typically starts at $330,000. That’s a lot of cashola. But imagine you’re a high-class baller attending aircraft shows.

You’re looking to buy the better half a sneaky private jet for Valentine’s Day. All the aircraft start at $1 million or more. Then you see a grandpa’s wet dream tucked away in the corner of the aircraft hanger.

The price tag says $330,000. All of a sudden a Rolls Royce seems like a cheap gift. This contrast hack is how Rolls Royce was able to sell overpriced leather recliners to a group of elites and make them think they were throwing away loose change. It’s sometimes called price anchoring.

You can do the same. Think about the backdrop when you ask a huge question. The question Can I buy a Macbook? to your partner might be a hard one to get permission for. But take them out to a nice bite to eat over a green smoothie and they’re more likely to give you a permission slip.

Bitcoinism

Bitcoinism is a way of seeing the world in which people are fiercely loyal to their fellow bitcoiners above everybody else. This mental model is very useful for understanding why bitcoin has become so popular.

Unpopular opinion: Bitcoinism culture is bad. It forces random people on Twitter to takedown any other crypto project attempting to do anything cool. It causes people to think only one crypto can win. It creates blindspots in thinking that make people believe ethereum will never succeed even though it has already. It forgets that there are multiple problems that need to be solved beyond the plain vanilla use case of the store of value problem bitcoin solves.

Bitcoinism assumes there is one winner. This mental model of the world is toxic. Technology creates change. To assume one solution will solve a problem for eternity is extremely naive.

I love bitcoin but I hate Bitcoinism. Be careful getting caught up in the “one winner takes all” mental model that seeks to hate on every other alternative. Alternatives progress humanity. One-winner-syndrome creates dictatorships full of yes-men/women.

The Tim Denning Aussie Law

We name laws after people, so I thought I’d chuck one in the mix. It’s a law people have told me time and time again has changed their life. Here it is.

Work you do in the first year of a side hustle seems like it leads nowhere. Work you do for five or more years makes you look extremely lucky. The effort you put in compounds at an invisible pace. The results don’t appear in year one. By year five, if you stuck with it, you’d be super successful at whatever side hustle you committed to.

Time in the game is the name of the game.

No magical pixies with fairy dust and rainbow unicorns are going to show up in your life after one month or ninety days. This is an instagram fantasy, not reality. If you stick at a side hustle for five years, commit to learning while you do it and are humble, there’s no ceiling on your results. The problem is 5-year patience is an impossible thought in an age of 15-second TikTok videos.

Use this made-up law I created (to look smart) to get what you want in life. No more hacks, shortcuts, or tricks are needed. Time in the game is the ultimate decider. Now you know.

Final Thought

As you can see mental models are not only created by psychologists with Nobel Prizes. You can create your own mental models. When you do they help you make decisions quickly, sort ideas into categories, and shape your view of the world. Mental models are also highly shareable and a great way to teach.

Ask yourself: “How does this person think?” Then write your own mental model to package together their ideas and beliefs.

Mental models make you a genius because they automate complex thinking. We all need that advantage.


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Tim Denning
I am an Aussie Blogger with 500M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. You may have seen my work on Medium, LinkedIn, Bitclout, or Twitter.

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