Gorilla Mindset (Mike Cernovich)

Gorilla Mindset (Mike Cernovich)

Gorilla Mindset is for everyone who wants to find their own way in life. It provides the first steps into a journey that begins within us and leads towards the place where we want to be – emotionally, socially or financially.

At the core of the book stands mindset. What is mindset?

Everyone of us experiences the world in a different way. Our genetic background, our experiences and beliefs build a certain ground state in our mind – a certain pattern of neuronal wiring – through which we decide how we react to new experiences and towards which values we gravitate.

There are basically two different lenses through which we see the world. Gorilla Mindset describes this polarity as scarcity vs. abundance. If you have a scarcity mindset, you assume the world has limited possibilities. You focus on preserving what you have, and you will not be eager to grow and collect new experiences. After all, the world is a limited place, right? With an abundance mindset, however, you realize that you can just go out and bathe in unlimited possibilities. Nobody is out to get you, nothing holds you back, you can just venture out and find your luck.

Thus, Gorilla Mindset helps us to develop an abundance mindset.

How is Gorilla Mindset different from other books on self-help?

If you want to learn from a book, it is not sufficient to just read the information, nod in subtle agreement (or violently shake your head in vehement opposition), close the book and put it away. That way, you may remember 2 or 3 key points. If you are lucky.

Gorilla Mindset goes a different way. It is very much a book that you can work with, for three reasons:

(a) Numerous takeaways – each chapter contains “Gorilla Mindset Shifts“. These allow you to quickly focus on the underlying basics.
(b) To illustrate the theory, each chapter has several real-world examples that we can relate to.
(c) The author  has placed numerous exercises after almost every chapter that guide you in applying the knowledge that you have gained from reading.

Thus, unlike many other “self-help” books, the advice in “Gorilla Mindset” is highly practical and applicable to your life. It is a course on improving your life.

To round out the experience, there are several experts contributing to the work. For example, psychologist  Dr. Jeremy Nicholson provides advice on willpower and posture, while neuroscientist Dr. Brett Osborn provides additional expertise on health and fitness and their relation to mindset.


General subdivision of the book

The first two chapters are about laying the foundation:

1. Self-Talk;

2. Reframing your thoughts.

The next three chapters use this groundwork to help us become present in our lives, control our emotions and our attention.

3. Becoming mindful;

4. Controlling your state;

5. Regaining focus.

After we have learnt to become present in the moment, we can now apply our state of mind to broader areas of our lives.

6. Lifestyle;

7. Health and Fitness;

8. Posture;

9. Money.

All these areas are not only outward manifestations of our (Gorilla 😉 mindset, they actually feed back on our state of mind. A very prominent example is posture. If we are happy with our situation, maybe after we have gotten an important promotion, gone on a great date or won something, we slouch less; we instead spread out and take up space. We assume an abundance pose. As a result of that, our improved body position will signal abundance to our mind – more dominant, less fearful. In turn our mind will take on a more positive state.

You can try something similar right now. Smile. Do you feel happier as a result?

The last two chapters of the book focus on

10. Vision.

11. The Perfect Day.

Based on all these chapters, you can see that Gorilla Mindset helps you develop your vision and live a rich and healthy lifestyle by focusing on the basics – being present, in focus and in control of your emotions.

That’s the strength of this book. Control the basics, and you can reach your goals and  ideal vision of your perfect day. It is, in essence, a very simple concept.

Gorilla Mindset gives you the tools to get there.


The most influential chapter

It is difficult to pinpoint down any chapter that stands out, since the chapters build on each other, and the mindset techniques are connected. For example, if you learn how to improve your self-talk and ultimately use that to develop a more fulfilling lifestyle, that positive way of living will make it easier for you to perceive your environment as friendly, and your self-talk will be a lot more positive than before. To me, this book has three landmarks:

#1. The chapter on self-talk is the very base of developing a better mindset.

#2. The chapters on developing a vision give you a long-term goal.

#3. The chapters on lifestyle and money essentially connect the basics to the vision. If you will, they provide the means to turn the basic steps into the long-term vision.

For me personally, money is a bit more important than lifestyle, because I am more or less happy with my lifestyle, yet I’d like to improve my mindset in relation to money. You may be more interested in developing good health and fitness, or you always looked for ways to improve your posture.

To me, the first part (basics) and the last part (vision) define this book. You’ll develop your goals and thus put your life on the trajectory to where you want it to be; and going there is basically a daily task of mastering the basics. That’s why this book is basically a work book.


The most surprising idea

What struck me most about this book is how much it was based in mastering the basics. This is what makes it different from a lot of other self-improvement books. They often provide a lot of theory and describe possibilities to get to where you want, but so far, I haven’t seen any book that provides a clear blueprint and literally makes you work for your goals.


Action steps taken: reframing

While I am still at the beginning of using the techniques described in the book, I have already experience with reframing negative thoughts. Since the beginning of 2013, I have banned the words “stupid”, wrong”, “fault” etc. from my vocabulary and replaced them with “What do I want to improve?”, followed by “How will I improve?”.

For most of the last one and a half year, I’ve never felt powerless. I’ve always seen a silver-lining in any experience and I usually can’t wait to try again if something did not work out.

For a concrete example, take the reduction of online distraction. There is a link with a seemingly interesting video, I click on it, more links pop up, and before I know it, I have completely forgotten about my original task.

Instead of telling myself I am “unreliable” or “lazy” – which did not solve anything – I now tell myself:

  1. What went well? It’s great that I am a curious person, maybe there is something I can learn from.
  2. What do I want to improve? The time I spend on webpages cuts into the time I want to spend on solving my original task.
  3. How will I improve? As soon as I see a link, I bookmark it so I know I can come back later when I have more time.

I am confident that the other exercises in “Gorilla Mindset” will help me in similar ways.


Key Takeaways

Building the foundation

  1. Mindset is a conversation: The Power Of Self-Talk.
  2. Mindset is a choice: Change The Way You Perceive Life’s Challenges.

are coming from the observation that we often talk to ourselves much more negatively than we would to someone else.

“If you talked to your friends like you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any friends.” – Mike Cernovich.

Rather, we should treat ourselves like a treasured and trusted friend. To do that, we can record our voice and watch our expressions while we say out loud what we only quietly tell ourselves. We then replace the negative statements with positive, empowering messages, our own mantras and powerful affirmations.

These exercises are simple, yet if we apply them regularly, we will eventually change our self-talk and thus our view on things. Who wants to work for someone who tells him he is “stupid” or “useless”? If we label ourselves in that way, we effectively paralyze ourselves. We won’t take any action for someone who does not appreciate us.

The flip side of that behavior is part of chapter 2. As we talk negatively to ourselves, we also perceive the challenges life throws at us in a pessimistic way.

We can never get things done and our recent experience is painful? Good luck being successful with that mindset! To escape that trap, we can reframe the challenge. One example would be:

“Yes, this hurts and is hard. Once it’s over, no one will be able to stop me.”

This way, the obstacle loses its power over us. We are not defeated by a wall in our way, because we know that we will advance once we have scaled it. The barrier becomes the benchmark that will enable us to become better.

We actually already know how to reframe our thoughts. We are practising it every day when we ask other people for a favor. We paint the favor in a positive light and point to the mutual benefit that will result.

We can frame a choice in terms of a good rather than bad outcome. If, for example we plan on losing 20 pounds, it is better to look at losing one pound in a week rather than the 19 more pounds we still have to go.

This is actually a technique described in Jeff Olson’s Slight Edge. It is better to focus on fulfilling our daily step towards our goal than on reaching a goal that is far away.


Applying the foundation

No Nothing November

  1. Mindset is a moment: How To Check In To Your Life.
  2. Mindset is a mood: How To Control Your State.
  3. Mindset is focus: How To Take Back Control Of Your Attention.

These chapters teach you how to (a) free yourself from anxiety, become present and getting into flow; (b) take control of your emotions and not let them rule over you; and (c) overcome distractions and focus on the task at hand.

We can become more present in the moment when we use framing and self-talk to become aware of our surroundings. Our mind often makes its own sense out of external events and fills in the gaps. If we see ourselves powerless towards daily reality, our mind fills the blanks with negativity, because this is its frame of reference. It’s like these corrupted letters:

If you can raed tihs, you hvae a sgtrane mnid, too. Can you raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. – Mike Cernovich

Most of use have such a “sgtrane” mind. Our mind fills in the blanks and reconstructs the correct words, even if they are misspelled.

Therefore, if our mind uses a position of strength and power as a reference, our mind will make connections between daily events based on positivity and abundance.

The bodybuilder Kai Green uses mindfulness practises at the gym. Everyday, he (a) asks himself why he is at the gym; (b) he envisions who he wants to become; and (c) he focuses on the moment and weight lifting.

As we develop and practise mindfulness, we can also take control of our emotions, our state. Think about a hugely positive experience you had. Maybe it was having great sex. Or you got your dream job. You could have been on a vacation at the Mediterranean sea. A situation where you were really, really happy. Don’t you wish you could replicate that feeling?

You can!

In essence, you remember a time when you felt “on top of the world” and pay attention to where in your body you felt it. You make the connection between your emotion and your body. This connection goes both ways. Maybe you felt it in your arms? You then recreate that feeling by shaking your arms and increase blood flow into them.

Mike Cernovich has further described this technique in an article on his blog.

Social media, a more competitive climate in the workplace and a praise of multi-tasking encourage us to have our minds “all over the place”. The danger here is that we forget the fundamentals. People prepare their holidays and then forget to renew their passports, arguably the one thing without which the whole travel is not possible. On a more tragic note, parents forget their infants in the car who then die of dehydration.

All these incidents have one thing in common – people are disconnected from that what really matters.


To refocus our attention, we can use the principles we learnt in the chapter on presence. We “check in” to what we are doing. Right now, for example, I am sitting in front of my computer, my fingers are pushing buttons on the keyboard and words appear on screen. I also realize that a box with papers stands close to the left of my monitor and somewhat distracts me. So I put those papers away… allowing myself to have a much easier time of focus.

That “check-in” took me mere 30 seconds, yet it improved the flow of my thoughts tremendously.

On the long run, we can develop more focus by constantly evaluating the situation we are in and the work we are doing. Essentially,we ask ourselves the following questions:

What do we want more of?
What do we want less of?
Does [person/activity] bring us more or what we want?
Does [person/activity] bring us less of what we want?

Applying Gorilla Mindset principles in broader areas of our lives

  1. Mindset is lifestyle: Change The Way You Live.
  2. Mindset is a body: Health and Fitness.
  3. Mindset is posture.
  4. The Money Mindset.

You are an elite athlete in the game of life who must properly warm up for an intense and inspirational competition. – Mike Cernovich

If you live in a distracting and negative environment, your mindset will suffer. If you confine people to a monotonous and uninspiring environment, they can gradually lose their energy to live. In her book “The Five Top Regrets of the Dying”, Bronnie Ware talks about Anthony, who had an accident and was confined in his mid-thirties it a nursing home. Within a couple of months, all energy had left him and he eventually died.

These chapters offer a change of direction from the first half of the book. After we learn to take care of the basics and use them to build a strong mind, we now find numerous examples of how to apply them to practical areas of our life. Of course, this is a two-way street: as we chose to strengthen our mindset, we improve our life. A good life then further strengthens our mind.

Here are several examples from the chapter on lifestyle.

  • Chose to engage with positive, helpful people; avoid negative situations and cut off contact to emotionally draining people.
  • Start saying no to everything.
  • There is nothing cool about “powering through” sleep deprivation.
  • Have a cold shower or contrast shower.
  • Establish a morning routine which helps you check into your day.

The lifestyle chapter also provides a brain warm-up and an interview with social and organisational psychologist, Dr. Jeremy Nicholson.

The heart and mind are connected. If something is good for your heart, it’s good for your mind. – Mike Cernovich

A healthy mind requires a healthy body. The book has several examples how to get there:

  • Nutrition and supplements like aspirin, nitrates (in beet juice) and L-arginine.
  • Learning how to breathe properly.
  • Improving your lymphatic system.
  • Improving your digestive system – the enteric nervous system stores and produces serotonin and dopamine.
  • Preserving your microbiome with fibers and probiotics.

This is advice you do not likely find in many other fitness/health blogs. Yet, of course, the lymphatic system – a second circulatory system that is connected to the blood vessels – needs to function well to reduce your risk of disease. In addition, more and more studies suggest that the composition of the bacteria in your guts has an effect on your overall health. It could aid in the development of obesity, and an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori can even lead to stomach cancer.

An interview with brain surgeon Dr. Brett Osborn provides more information on nutrition and fitness.

The book devotes a whole chapter on developing a good posture. This is important: our posture impacts our health, mindset and mood – down to our hormonal levels.


In short: if you employ a proper, open posture, your mindset and dominance will experience a boost. Dominant behaviors, status in a social setting and testosterone levels are linked.

For that reason, this chapter as well as the supplementary information contain several pictures of posture. We learn about the link between posture and mindset through an interview with Dr. Jeremy Nicholson.

As a final area of application – maybe the most important one – we learn how we apply mindset to money.

Money is like oxygen. Without it you will die. – Mike Cernovich

Money is a means to an end. With money, you have better access to resources. Without it, you eventually die.

Acquiring wealth has two components: the money we make and the money we keep. This chapter tackles both sides.

(a) Money we keep.
People spend money to buy status; they also spend money to self-medicate or escape a dreadful lifestyle. Both ways turn them into slaves to external influences. If you need to acquire status, you are really telling yourself you are not enough; if you buy self-medication, you just treat the symptoms of your unhappiness, and once the money is gone, you are still lost.

However, if you use Gorilla mindset techniques from the previous chapters, you will be able to focus on what you truly want and also find that you don’t need to buy anything to raise your status. The world is an abundant place, and you don’t need to insure yourself against being left behind by buying status.

(b) Money we make.
Somebody who thinks his environment is a hostile place against which he can not stand – someone who operates from scarcity, will never be able to see himself grow and provide value to the world.
Yet when you look around, you are buying stuff because it solves a need – for food, entertainment, travel, repair etc. Somebody sells these items. That somebody could be you.
Starting a business has never been easier than today. You can advertise your business on YouTube, build a website around your products or simply use the site to offer consulting services. You do not even need to be a seller. You could advertise products or do affiliate marketing and act as a middleman between products and buyer, ultimately connecting supply and demand. The more value you provide, the more people are willing to pay you.

We can see that our relation to money is tightly linked to the perception we have of ourselves. If we see ourselves in a negative light and the world around us as hostile and resources as scarce, we will never go out and provide value, thus, we won’t make any more money. If we are not focussed and “dialed in” to the moment and know what we truly want, we get taken advantage of our indecisiveness and will give in to spending money on products that are supposed to raise our status or make us feel temporarily good.

We can actually say that our relationship with money is direct reflection on how we see ourselves.

The chapter ends with several ideas for starting a business and practical advice on how to invest your money.

But most importantly it focuses on the development of You, Inc. You can not stand on somebody else’s value. Much better though, you have control over your own life and you know yourself better than anyone else can.

The Gorilla Mindset techniques displayed in this book help us to find who we really are and what our specialty, our “edge” is. Look inside yourself. What can you do especially well and faster than anyone else? If there is a demand for it, you can build it up and sell it.


The vision of your life

  1. Mindset is vision: Change What You See, Change What You Get.
  2. Mindset Is One Day.

You may think visualization is difficult. In truth, you have already mastered visualization. – Mike Cernovich

Do you reminisce of the past? Do you wish you could change it? Then you have trained yourself in visualization. You can’t change the past, though. Instead, regard your past as an illusion and treat your dreams as real.

Do not ponder the past. Visualize your future. Be as specific as possible, down to the localization where you will be sitting once you have reached your goals. Use all your senses.

I did that myself in the past – when I was in Germany, I always wanted to go to the US to do research, and I visualized myself sitting in a garden chair on a lawn of an American college town.

10 years later, I was doing biological research in an American college town. I was actually sitting in that chair.

It is funny how I got there. That position was the least I had specifically prepared for. I just wanted to talk to some of the professors there. Yet my visualization technique had defined my goals so well that I felt right at home in that college town. The result was that I could talk very leisurely and openly about science.

If you are asking yourself what your vision is, you can think of your ideal day. Daydream. If you use Gorilla mindset techniques, you can visualize this day as vividly as you can. Where will you be? What will you hear? How will you feel? Will other people be there?

If you master this, Gorilla Mindset will have helped you to give directionality and a purpose to your life.

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