How to Change Your Mind | Michael Pollan

Summary of: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
By: Michael Pollan


Embark on a transformational journey through the fascinating world of psychedelics with Michael Pollan’s ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.’ This book summary delves into the profound potential of psychedelics, exploring their influence on consciousness, psychological well-being, and even spiritual growth. Expect to uncover the history, misconceptions, and promising therapeutic applications of these once-taboo substances. Witness their power to spark positive change, even to the point of transforming lives.

The Power of Fresh Starts

Fresh starts can make it easier to change, according to research. Starting anew puts distance between past failures and new attempts, which can help motivate us to achieve our goals. The effect of a fresh start can be felt not only on New Year’s Day but also after any milestone. However, not all fresh starts lead to positive change, as evidenced by gym-going undergraduate students who experienced disruption to their healthy routines during holiday breaks. The lesson is to take advantage of fresh starts but be mindful not to backslide into old habits.

Overcoming Impulsivity

Are you finding it difficult to remain committed to your goals? Do you often prioritize instant gratification over long-term goals? Well, you might just be falling prey to impulsivity! But there is good news as impulsivity can be tackled. The author suggests two ways of handling impulsivity – temptation bundling and gamification. Temptation bundling involves pairing enjoyable activities with demanding tasks to make the work seem more appealing. Gamification, on the other hand, involves adding game-like elements to real-world tasks to make them more appealing, such as leaderboards, points, and rewards. Both these methods can help keep you motivated and committed to your goals.

Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination is a common problem that often causes stress, disappointment, and lack of preparation. However, it can be overcome by using commitment devices such as cash commitment devices or public pledges. A commitment device is a method of limiting temptations by restricting freedom. One successful example is the “locked” savings account offered by the Green Bank in the Philippines which saw an 80% increase in savings from customers. By making your goals known to others and having them track your progress, you create a powerful incentive to stay motivated. Procrastination can be conquered with the help of commitment devices.

Defeating Laziness with Good Habits

Laziness can hinder change in our lives, but good habits can help overcome this obstacle. Habits are powerful and can make unpleasant behaviors as automatic as our morning routine. Neuroscientists have shown that the more ingrained a habit becomes, the less we rely on reasoning and the more on motor control. Thus, for good behavior to become a habit, we must make a sustained and deliberate effort to practice it until it becomes second nature. This way, laziness cannot hinder change, and it becomes more manageable.

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