1-Sentence-Summary: Awaken The Giant Within is the psychological blueprint you can follow to wake up and start taking control of your life, starting in your mind, spreading through your body and then all the way through your relationships, work and finances until you’re the giant you were always meant to be.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Sometimes I forget. I read the summary of a book like this and think “Man, I’ve heard a lot of this before.” But that’s because a) I read a lot of self-help books and b) the market has been flooded with them over the past 20-30 years. This makes it easy to forget to put each book into perspective.
Awaken The Giant Within was released in 1991 – the year I was born. If I imagine someone reading it some 25 years ago, this book can’t have felt anything other than groundbreaking. The strategies and techniques Tony Robbins talks about have long become standard practice, but he pioneered them.
Here are 3 lessons to help you feel more in charge of your life than ever before:
- Associate bad habits with pain and good ones with pleasure.
- Change the words you use to transform how you feel and deal with problems.
- Make up your own rules and communicate them to become happier.
Ready to wake up your inner giant? Let’s do it!
Lesson 1: Associate bad habits with pain and good ones with pleasure.
A very simple framework to look at the world is this: All of our actions are aimed at either avoiding pain or getting pleasure. Going to the job you don’t like is something you do to avoid the pain of not being able to pay rent. Listening to your favorite song should lift your mood. And so on.
You can use this framework to successfully break bad habits and establish good ones. You simply have to pair bad habits with pain and good habits with pleasure.
For example, if you want to quit eating chocolate, Tony says you should force yourself to sing a song you hate out loud every time you eat some. After having to sing a terrible song loudly at a packed restaurant even once, just because you ordered molten chocolate lava cake for dessert, chances are you’ll easily avoid the cocoa-packed candy from then on.
Eventually, you’ll have to replace your bad habit with a new, better, more positive one, in order to fill the void. This is a crucial part of habit change. A technique called temptation bundling can help you with it. The creator, Kathy Milkman, loved the Hunger Games audiobooks, but allowed herself to listen only while working out in the gym. As a result, she worked out six times a week, just to find out what happens!
Lesson 2: Use different words to end up in a different state of mind.
If you’ve ever seen Tony Robbins in action, you know he’s a powerful guy in every sense of the word. He’s tall, big, loud, and has a very positive aura. Something you might have not picked up on is his vocabulary. Tony always uses expressive and unusual language to reinforce positive emotions and play down negative ones.
He calls this transformational vocabulary and says it’s very important to watch your language, because the way you describe how you experience the world is a big and defining part of that experience. In the English language, there are over 3,000 words to describe emotions. Sadly, 66% of them are for negative emotions – twice as many as for positive ones!
So how can you use words to your advantage?
Reinforce good feelings with powerful words and play down bad emotions with less intense language.
For example, instead of saying that lying in the sun makes you feel happy, you could say: “I’m in complete bliss.” And instead of yelling “This piece of junk is annoying the crap out of me!” at your car that just broke down, you could say “Well, that’s a bit unfortunate.”
Pro tip: Use unusual words to make yourself laugh at tough situations. For example say: “I do feel a little irked at this.” when you’re really frustrated. Just hearing yourself talk out loud using such old-fashioned words will instantly put you in a better mood.
Lesson 3: Make up your own rules and tell other people about them to increase your happiness.
“I’m having a long day at work today, but I know I’ll feel great once I sit down on my couch after I come home.”
Have you ever thought something like this? I’m pretty sure you have. We all have our own little rules that determine what does and doesn’t make us happy. However, all too often we make up rules where we give away control. For example, “I’ll be so happy if my boss tells me I did a great job with this presentation.” is not a good rule to have, because you hand over your happiness to your boss – whom you can’t control.
So first, make up better rules. “I’ll be happy if I spend at least one hour of focused work on this event plan.” is a lot better than the rule above, because this is something you can influence.
Secondly, communicate your rules as much as you can, because you can’t possibly expect other people to have the same rules as you do. When you think your best friend is not a good friend, because she only calls you once a month, then that’s just your rule about thinking best friends call each other every few days. Tell her that that’s what you believe and she’ll tell you her rule, which then lets the two of you find a better solution that works for both of you.
My personal take-aways
Tony Robbins is always worth spending some time with, no matter in what format. Even 25 years later, this book still has a massive capacity to inspire you and give you actionable steps to start changing your life for the better, today. I especially loved using better language, because it’s an easy win.
Tony is giving away a few excerpts from the book, around 100 pages out of the original 500+, so that’s a good next step to take. The summary on Blinkist is quite long as well and covers a good bunch of his ideas.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Why you worded your New Year’s resolutions wrong and how to do better next year
- What beliefs really are, and how to change those that aren’t working for you
- Why you should come up with a set of quality questions to have at hand at any time
- When it’s time to sit down and list your values and priorities
- How to dig one level deeper into your emotions and deal better with them
- Why choosing what’s for dinner is a much bigger choice than you think it is
Who would I recommend the Awaken The Giant Within summary to?
The 20 year old, who’s shy and not sure how to make it in this crazy world, the 39 year old with a tough and sometimes frustrating job, who often uses the wrong words to describe her situation, and anyone who feels like their happiness is out of their control.