Truth: Personal Development for Smart People – by Steve Pavlina summary by Derek Sivers

This is a post of summary by Derek Sivers of a really nice book by Stevel Pavlina available at

Read it slowly as there is wisdom.

 “What seems nasty, painful, evil can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.” – Henry Miller

Your first commitment must be to discover and accept new truths, no matter how difficult or unpleasant the consequences.

Perception is the most basic aspect of truth. If you want to improve some part of your life, you have to look at it first.

For example, if you want to know how your relationship is doing, you ask yourself, “How do I feel about this relationship? What parts are working well? What parts need improvement?”

You can’t get from point A to point B if you refuse to acknowledge that you’re at point A!

What do you perceive about your life that you’d like to change?
Are there any addictions or destructive habits you’d like to break?

Look around you and notice what you like and dislike about your life.

Prediction is how you learn from experience, enabling you to discover what is true. As you observe any new situation or event, one of two things can happen: either the experience will meet your expectations, or it won’t. When an experience meets your expectations, your mental model of reality remains intact. But when an experience violates your expectations, your mind must update its model of reality to fit the new information. This is how you learn from experience and discover new truths.

If something satisfies all your expectations, you won’t learn anything new. To help you grow, something (this book) must violate your expectations and give you some unexpected “Aha!” moments.

There are two powerful ways you can apply your mind’s predictive powers to accelerate your personal growth:

1. Embrace new experiences that are unlike anything you’ve previously encountered.

You’ll literally become more intelligent. New situations shift your mind into learning mode, which enables you to discover new patterns. The more patterns your mind learns, the better it gets at prediction, and the smarter you become.

Read a book on a topic that’s completely alien to you. Talk to people you’d normally avoid. Visit an unfamiliar city. Stretch beyond the patterns your mind has already learned. In order to grow, you must repeatedly tackle fresh challenges and consider new ideas to give your mind fresh input. If you merely repeat the same experiences, you’ll stagnate, and your mental capacity will atrophy.

If you want to become smarter, you must keep stirring things up.

2. Make conscious deliberate predictions and use those predictions to make better decisions.

Think about where you’re headed and ask yourself, “How do I honestly expect my life to turn out?”

Imagine that a very logical impartial observer examines your situation in detail, and predicts what your life will look like in 20 years, based on your current behavior. What kind of future will this person predict for you?

Positive feelings stem from positive predictions.
When you feel good, your mind is anticipating a positive outcome.
When you feel bad, your mind expects an unfavorable outcome.

The closer your internal model of reality matches actual reality, the more capable you become.

Accept the long-term consequences of your predictions.

Do you accept the truth of where you’ll likely end up?
Are you willing to live with those consequences?

Whatever you fear, you must eventually face.

Don’t deny the truth of the situation.
Never pretend to be happy.

Make your important decisions from the most reasonable thinking you can muster – when you feel alert, clearheaded, and intelligent. Put the decisions in writing and fully commit yourself to them. When you inevitably sink back to lower states and lose sight of the higher perspective, continue to act on those decisions even though you may no longer feel as committed to them.

When you make choices from a place of anger, fear, sadness, or guilt, you cannot be aligned with truth because your predictions will be negatively biased by those lower states.

Positive emotions can make you overly optimistic, encouraging you to take unreasonable risks and to make overaggressive promises that you won’t keep.

Secondary gain is when you temporarily benefit(gain) by embracing falsehood. Lying to get ahead. Etc.

The more you succumb to secondary gain, the phonier you become as a human being.

Instead of abiding friendship and human intimacy, you settle for a sea of casual contacts, none of whom know, accept, and love the real you.

The pursuit of secondary gain leads to persistent dissatisfaction, emptiness, and unhappiness.

Rate the different areas of your life each from 1 to 10:
– Habits & daily routine
– Career & work
– Money & finances
– Health & fitness
– Education
– Social & relationships
– Home & family
– Emotions
– Character & integrity
– Life purpose & contribution
– Spiritual development

Take every rating that isn’t a 9 or 10 and replace it with a 1.

A 7 is what you get when you allow too much falsehood and denial to creep into your life – when you know you don’t have what you want, but you aren’t ready to face up to it yet. A 7 is a comfortable living arrangement instead of a deeply fulfilling relationship.

Look at each part of your life again, and ask yourself:
What do I truly want?
What is my dream, my grand vision?
What is the deep desire I’ve been longing for – the one that I hesitate to admit because I don’t think I can have it?
What path do I most want to experience?

Accept that you want what you want, and stop living in denial of your true desires.

Media fast : For 30 days, no TV, and avoid all newspapers, magazines, online media sources. Unplug yourself completely and see what happens.

How you expect to use what you have just learnt?

Did you think through what are points A and B for you?


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