Six months ago I was first introduced to the work of Mike Cernovich, author of various websites, most notably Danger & Play. Upon reading his work, I decided to read his book, Gorilla Mindset. The book is, in short, a set of techniques that work towards a common goal: asserting control over the things that make you an individual: your mind, your body, and your deeds. The book starts with an extended look at controlling your emotions and your thoughts. It moves on how to harness those good thoughts before switching tacks. A focus on body and health topics follows before finishing with personal finance and productivity.
Upon reading it, it seems like a book full of great ideas that are almost overwhelming to try out in your own life. It is hard to judge the true value of a book like Gorilla Mindset until you’ve seen what it does for your life over time. That’s what this article is going to focus on: where Gorilla Mindset has directly led to improvements in my own life.
Before I dig into the book, I need to share my own mild problem with anxiety. It is not serious enough to treat medicinally or with therapy, but exists nevertheless. It’s triggered when I find myself in a situation where I don’t have sufficient control. So, for instance, I experience anxiety between queuing to board a plane and reaching cruising altitude, but don’t mind being on a plane once I know I could get up and walk around if I wanted.
Here’s a personal example: I was attending a show my friend was starring in at a local theater with my girlfriend, parents, and about 10 of their friends I had known for years. Now, I normally dislike attending anything where I’ll have dozens of people close to me in every direction, so I was already a bit on edge when we got to the theater.
The theater was “in-the-round”, so the seating arrangement was something like a miniature bowl stadium with seats all around the stage. I realized, upon arriving in my seat, that there was no way I could get out of the room if I needed to during the show unless I wanted to run across the stage. Following dinner and with mounting anxiety giving me nausea, it started to seem like I might have to do exactly that.
Luckily that was the day I had bought Gorilla Mindset, and I had finished reading the first few chapters before leaving for the evening’s events. Realizing what was going on and where I was heading, I decided to do what Mike describes as “checking in” with oneself and engaged in self-talk.
“I’m sitting in this chair, it is not particular comfortable, but it will be okay for the evening.”
“I’m wearing clothes that are both comfortable and look good on me. In fact, I’m looking my best tonight”
“I’m feeling nervous about this show starting because, even though I probably won’t have to leave the room suddenly, I would feel reassured to know that I could without disrupting the show.”
“My anxiousness is causing me to feel a bit nauseous, but I’ve been through this before , and it usually passes in a few minutes.”
“Everyone seems settled in their seats, it looks like the show is about to begin.”
Once I finished talking to myself and checked in, my anxiety started to melt away. I repeated the exercise twice more throughout the evening and was able to enjoy the performance.
That one day justified the price I paid for the book. That was just the start of applying skills from Gorilla Mindset, however. And I’m not done either. Writing this article has made me revisit the book and realize how much more I could be taking from it.
Quick Looks at Things I Have Directly Applied
Changing the tone of my inner monologue from my biggest critic to my best friend and becoming more mindful have had a general good effect in many aspects of my life. I’ve been less prone to having a bad moods. I’ve found more enjoyment engaging socially with people. I’ve gained self-confidence and my actions align better with my inner thoughts.
I’ve learned to focus my effort towards goals that are important to me. Because of this, I’ve made more progress that I normally would.
I’ve stopped using an alarm clock except on special occasions. I work in an office that has flexible schedules. If I wake up later than I’d like, I stay at work a little longer. If I find myself awake and alert at 6AM, I start my day early. I get all the sleep my body wants to have.
Contrast showers have reduced the time it takes for me to go from sleep to productivity.
By learning about the connection between a healthy gut and a healthy mind, I’ve improved my digestion and my sensitivity to anxiety by being more mindful about where and when I eat.
Taking NAC and probiotics have helped to accomplish both a healthier gut and mind.
Fish oil has lowered the effects stress and anxiety have on me.
Vitamin D3 has prevented me from having seasonal mood swings.
The Producer Mindset
The mindset shifts Mike describes about money I undertook around the same time; I read The Millionaire Next Door immediately before Gorilla Mindset. This book convinced me to make changes to my spending habits exactly the way Mike describes. This has led to swelling retirement savings and is giving me freedom to shift some hours from my high-paying salaried job to developing side businesses.
The producer mindset though was a game changer. While I had already started my first side project in February 2015, Mike’s words flipped a switch in me. I’ve been able to find ways to turn the time I spend for enjoyment into time that is productive.
Even if its not making you money, you can still turn any activity into something of value. You love binging on Netflix for hours? Start a site and act as a curator, telling visitors information they’ll find useful when making their own decisions about what to watch. You probably won’t make any money from it, but when someone asks you how you spent your weekend, what would you rather say? “I watched a whole season of Breaking Bad”, or “I updated Breaking Bad’s profile on my site “The Netflix Binger” with information I got from watching a season” Being able to say you accomplished something is the ultimate satisfaction of a producer mindset.
In addition to the side business I already had going, I pilot at least one new idea a month to see how it does and see if it is feasible. Failure is the norm, and most ideas get shelved with a few hours invested and sometimes even a small cash loss. But some have lasted and are growing bigger and more successful already. One thing that has been disappointing is my failure to bring other people on board when I have an idea that would only work with the skills of both me and a friend.
My short story (which has a sequel that is named, outlined and about 1/3 written) Social Justice Space Warriors: Shaming on Arcturus Beta only exists because I read Gorilla Mindset. I felt as if Mike had challenged me to find a way to turn my love of mocking SJW’s and various other people into something I produced, rather than consumed and a short story was the result. The effort was a successful enough first start that I bought myself a nice bottle of scotch with the proceeds; and I appreciate every drink that much more because of how I made the money for it.
The toughest part of the book comes at the end. I won’t spoil what it is, but suffice it to say it is the chapter that could very well make you ask big questions about where you are in life and what you are doing. It certainly made me ponder making uncomfortable choices.
In this article I’ve touched on less than a third of the things Gorilla Mindset offers its readers. It is a book where you will find something that you can use to improve your life in a meaningful way. It is a book that will continue to positively influence my life.
For me, looking from six months later, it is clear this book has had a major positive impact on my life. A big thanks to Mike for writing it and for all the great material he creates.