Changing How You Think

Books that, when you’ve finished them, have caused you to “pivot” your mindset. Ones that make you think in a new and more informed way.

Changing How You Think
Capital Thinking | Changing How You Think

Capital Thinking  •  Issue #498  •  View online

If I had to choose between a 4-year degree, and the right combination of books, I’d go with the books.

-Nat Eliason

15 “Pivotal” Books that Changed How I Think and Live

By Nat Eliason in Books:

Not 50 Shades of Grey or Captain Underpants, but books that fundamentally change how you think about the world.

Books that, when you’ve finished them, have caused you to “pivot” your mindset. Ones that make you think in a new and more informed way.

Over the last four years, since I started reading heavily, I’d estimate that I’ve finished 300 books.

Reading a ton isn’t hard, but finding pivotal books is grueling. Out of those 300 books, only 15 made my list.

Since realizing what a small percentage of books I was reading were having significant impacts on my mindset, I’ve stopped focusing on mass consumption and instead am focusing on finding more pivotal books.

If you, too, are trying to find books that, when you put them down, have added a new color to the world, here’s my list.

1. Antifragile, by Nassim Taleb

“If true wealth consists in worriless sleeping, clear conscience, reciprocal gratitude, absence of envy, good appetite, muscle strength, physical energy, frequent laughs, no meals alone, no gym class, some physical labor (or hobby), good bowel movements, no meeting rooms, and periodic surprises, then it is largely subtractive (elimination of iatrogenics).”

Key lessons:

  • Be the hydra: Develop systems where if one part of you is cut off, you grow back stronger. Entrepreneurship, creative works, freelance, supports this. White collar makes it hard.
  • Small damage benefits human systems: Lifting weights damages you briefly, then makes you stronger. Fasting is hard but makes you healthier.
  • Removal is better than addition: Cure illness by finding the cause, not by adding medication. Cure unhappiness by finding the source, not by adding indulgence.

2. Letters from a Stoic, by Seneca

“Let our aim be a way of life not diametrically opposed to, but better than that of the mob.”

Key Lessons:

  • We can’t control our fate, only our reactions:Complaining, worrying, dreading, regret, and any other past or future-minded emotions are useless. Recognize them, then let them pass.
  • Self-improvement above all else.
  • Create internal happiness: Non-reliance on external things for happiness (stuff, people, money, etc.) makes you impervious to loss.
  • Be mindful of your inputs: The people you spend time with, the information you read, the environment you’re in all effect you immensely. Cull negative inputs and seek out positive ones.
  • Find a mentor: Whether or not you can get direct access to them, model yourself after someone, emulate their successes, skip their failures.

3. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

“She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought- and never worried about it again.”

Key Lessons:

  • Do what you were meant to do, and do it big.
  • Impersonal egoism isn’t bad: Doing what’s in your best long-term self-interest, and expecting everyone else to do the same, can be the best for all.
  • Forget the haters: Don’t try to make everyone happy, if you’re doing anything worthwhile, there will be haters, and you should embrace that.

4. The 4-Hour Workweek / Body, by Tim Ferriss

“Being busy is a form of laziness— lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective— doing less— is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”

Key Lessons:

  • Popular / common tactics are usually inefficient: Most systems have a shortcut, you just have to find it.
  • Money is not about salary: Money is about freedom, and how you leverage it to create the life you want.
  • Your body is malleable: You’re not stuck a certain way, you can easily mold the clay, you just need the right tactics.

5. Mastery, by Robert Greene

“Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever, because we are making something and not merely consuming, Masters of the small reality we create. In doing this work, we are in fact creating ourselves.”

Key Lessons:

  • Mastery comes from mentorship, not study: If you want to truly excel, then you need someone who will take you under your wing (and who you can benefit) to rapidly accelerate your education.
  • You and your mentors will break up: At a certain point, you must break up with your mentor and move to the next one before they start holding you back.
  • Social norms around work breed mediocrity: Most people never become masters of their craft. To become one, you must not be like most people.

6. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

“All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.”

Key Lessons:

  • Resistance is pervasive, and must be fought: The hard part of writing isn’t writing, it’s fighting the desire not to write.
  • Fear must drive action: The most afraid you are of a work or calling, the more you must do it.
  • Friends and family will (likely) hold you back (unintentionally):Others will subconsciously attack your success to make themselves feel better about their mediocrity. Don’t eat with fat people, don’t work with/near losers, don’t drink with alcoholics.

7. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

“…more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day [aren’t] actual decisions, but habits.”

Key Lessons:

  • Cue – Routine – Reward: All habits follow this pattern. You can break it at the routine level, replacing bad habits with good ones.
  • Keystone habits lift the rest: Certain habits (exercise, healthy eating, play) improve all other habits.
  • Cravings are habits: Anytime you feel like you “need” something there’s a cue and routine there that you must identify.

For the rest of the list click here =>

15 Pivotal Books that Changed How I Think and Live - Nat Eliason
A “pivotal” book, once you’ve put it down, has changed your way of thinking forever. Here’s my list, what’s on yours?