That Little Voice in Your Head Book Summary - That Little Voice in Your Head Book explained in key points
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That Little Voice in Your Head summary

Mo Gawdat

Adjust the Code That Runs Your Brain

4.5 (360 ratings)
20 mins
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    That Little Voice in Your Head
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    You control your thoughts – which do not define you

    Before we go any farther, there’s one concept you must accept: You are in control of your brain just as you are a computer, and that includes the messages it sends. The essence of “you” is more than just your thoughts. 

    While Gawdat credits the brain with being a marvelous machine, he says it’s like any other organ in the body in that it processes and produces things. Just as the lungs take oxygen from the air and expel carbon dioxide, the brain takes input and produces thoughts. Now, you don’t think of “yourself” as carbon dioxide, do you? The same should go for thoughts. 

    While we are making sure you separate your identity from your brain’s byproducts, also consider this: You can observe your thoughts. So, if you were merely your thoughts and nothing more, there would be no need for an internal voice to communicate anything — you’d already know. To Gawdat, it’s more proof that while the brain is critically important, it’s not all of you.

    This leads to the hopeful conclusion that you have power over your thoughts. That little voice in your head? Well, you don't have to do anything it says. You can choose not to listen to it at all! Better yet, you can train it to think in ways that bring happiness to you and, potentially, the whole world.

    Feeling empowered? Great. As promised, we’ll start with the top-level operations of our brains, so you can begin to identify what needs attention. Gawdat starts with a basic concept — an operational diagram — of how all computational systems operate. While he expands on it with a model that’s more complex, we’ll stick with the simple one to keep things brief.

    First, we have inputs. They account for all the information that you put into a system. Next are processes, which describe what a system does with its inputs. Finally, there are outputs — whatever those inputs and processes produce.

    If you are looking for happiness in life, then it’s likely you aren’t entirely pleased with your output. You may have tried a few things in your processes with no big improvements. With a computer, that would be like updating software, yet the machine still runs slowly. For you, maybe you’ve picked up meditating or established an exercise routine yet still are not feeling it, much less seeing results. Don’t worry. We’re getting there. 

    Let’s start at the beginning of the operational diagram to consider what may be happening with your inputs. Here’s a quick exercise to prime your mind. Take five minutes in a quiet spot and reflect on the past week. Jot down everything you can recall hearing, seeing, experiencing, or even feeling. and any thoughts you may have had about them. That’s it! 

    Keep your list. You’ll want to return to it after we look at the various things happening in your brain that can cause trouble.

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    What is That Little Voice in Your Head about?

    That Little Voice in Your Head (2022) is a guide to understanding and optimizing your brain so you can live a happier life, using concepts from computer science and neuroscience to map the mind as an operating system. It includes many simple exercises to help you take control of your brain, thoughts, and emotions to reshape your own experience and positively affect the lives of others.

    Who should read That Little Voice in Your Head?

    • Anyone interested in achieving happiness
    • People who want to increase their emotional intelligence
    • Those interested in an expert computer science perspective on the human brain as AI evolves 

    About the Author

    Mo Gawdat is the former chief business officer for Google X, an entrepreneur, and three-time best-selling author. His other titles include Solve for Happy and Scary Smart. He is the founder of “One Billion Happy,” a movement to help one billion people achieve happiness, He hosts a top-ranked podcast, Slo Mo, in which he and other thought leaders discuss mental health, happiness, and where these human qualities intersect with rapid AI development.

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