Reframe Your Brain Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Reframe Your Brain is a collection of over 160 simple but effective mental shifts you can make to improve your mental and physical health, your social life and odds of success, and even how you look at reality itself.

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Reframe Your Brain Summary

When started meditating, I tried to create the perfect environment each time. Complete silence, that is. I always locked doors and checked for noises before beginning. Naturally, sounds appeared regardless, and I was annoyed. Whenever the fridge started to rattle or someone talked in the hallway, I got angry.

Until, one day, I realized: The purpose of meditation is not to eliminate distractions. It is to accept distractions. Whether those distractions come from my own mind or the outside world doesn’t matter.

This reframing changed everything. Suddenly, outside noises were more chances to practice meditation instead of an obstacle to it!

If you, too, would like to improve your life with reframes, look no further than Scott Adams. In his book Reframe Your Brain: The User Interface for Happiness and Success, the cartoonist of Dilbert-fame offers 160 of these simple perspective shifts.

Here are some of Adams’ best reframes in 2 big categories, plus how you can come up with your own:

  1. For better mental health, consider 10 Stoic reframes.
  2. If you want a simple philosophy for success, consider Adams’ 3 pillars.
  3. It only takes 5 simple rules to create your own reframes for any situation.

Let’s learn how to change our lives simply by changing our minds!

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Lesson 1: Improve your mental health with 10 Stoicism-inspired reframes.

Adams is an outspoken multi-millionaire with controversial views who’s written several books about persuasion and success, like How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and Loserthink. Given his background, you wouldn’t expect the largest section of his book to be about mental health — but it is. Refreshing!

Adams insists he is no expert but that reframes are safe to try. Here are 10 of them to help manage your inner wellbeing:

  1. Before: “I am my inner thoughts.”
    After: “I am what I do.”
  2. Before: “Find yourself.”
    After: “Author yourself.”
  3. Before: “Some people are good, and some are not.”
    After: “We’re all flawed, and we’re all good at different things.”
  4. Before: “Everyone is thinking about me.”
    After: “You are only a bit player in their movie.”
  5. Before: “My feelings are the result of my situation.”
    After: “How I feel is my choice.”
  6. Before: “I am in pain.”
    After: “I am in pain for a minute.”
  7. Before: “There are good days and bad.”
    After: “All days are useful in different ways.”
  8. Before: “I can’t handle this for the rest of my life.”
    After: “I can do anything for a day.”
  9. Before: “My trauma crippled me.”
    After: “My trauma is why I can kick your ass.”
  10. Before: “My mind is in my brain.”
    After: “My mind includes my brain, body, and physical environment. Any change to one changes the others.”

Can you see it? Most of Adams’ suggestions go back to a few themes:

  1. Focus on what you can do and control.
  2. The world is not black and white.
  3. You are a small part in a big picture.
  4. Everything is temporary.

That’s basically Stoic philosophy, which can help us feel more centered, grounded, and take ourselves less seriously.

Of course, Adams also has a few things to say about his favorite topic: success and how to attain it.

Lesson 2: Adams’ philosophy of success rests on 3 pillars.

In Star Wars, Han Solo flies into an asteroid field to evade enemy spaceships. When his loyal robot C-3PO reminds him the chances of making it through are 3270 to 1, Han only says: “Never tell me the odds!” Sure enough, they manage to escape.

“Never tell me the odds” also captures one of the 3 pillars of Adams’ philosophy of success:

  1. Fake it till you make it.
  2. Consistency beats effort.
  3. Stay open-minded and flexible.

For example, Adams is a huge fan of affirmations. Repeat your aspirations to yourself every day, and you’ll prime your subconscious to steer your brain in the right direction. Some reframes for this?

  • Before: “My odds of success are low.”
    After: “Maybe I’m bad at estimating the odds.”
  • Before: “I fail at 90 percent of the things I try.”
    After: “I only need to succeed 10 percent of the time.”
  • Before: “The universe is acting against me.”
    After: “The universe owes me.”

Adams’ second pillar rests on consistently showing up for what you want until you get it:

  • Before: “Manage your time.”
    After: “Manage your energy.”
  • Before: “Success requires setting goals.”
    After: “Systems are better than goals.”
  • Before: “Passion is the key to success.”
    After: “Passion is nice but not required.”

If you commit to writing a single page every day, after one year, you’ll have a book manuscript. Maybe not a great one, but a manuscript nonetheless.

Finally, rather than insisting on an exact path to your dreams, Adams advocates for constant learning, skill-stacking, and letting the universe surprise you.

  • Before: “Focus on being excellent at a skill that has commercial value.”
    After: “Acquire skills that work well together and make you rare and flexible at the same time.”
  • Before: “Learn what you need.”
    After: “Learn continuously, especially skills that work well together.”

Adams failed at a lot of things that he was technically qualified for, yet he often succeeded where he shouldn’t have on paper. Focus on learning, having fun, staying optimistic, and being productive. Sooner or later, you’ll get where you want to go!

Lesson 3: You can create your own reframes for any situation with 5 simple rules.

To end the book, Adams acknowledges that not all reframes will work for everyone. Thankfully, we can make up our own! All we have to do is follow 5 rules while doing so. From the book:

  1. Reframes don’t need to be true or even logical.
  2. Reframes only need to work.
  3. You can quickly test reframes in your mind and body.
  4. A reframe approaches a topic from a new perspective.
  5. If the reframe creates an advantage, keep it.

For example, a popular reframe among Adams’ readers is turning “Alcohol is a beverage” to “Alcohol is poison.” Is it 100% true? No. But if you can feel it create a strong disdain for alcohol inside your mind, it might work for you. If you also find it easy to remember, stick with it for a while. See if it helps you drink less, and if not, no problem!

Learn to come up with your own reframes, be creative, and never stop changing your mind. There’s the right perspective shift for every situation, and as long as you can come up with it, you can make it through — and to — anything!

Reframe Your Brain Review

Reframe Your Brain is a refreshing take in the affirmations-and-visualizations space. Adams’ writing is fun, unpretentious, and covers a wide range of useful tweaks you can try. Give reframes a go, and see if they work for you!

Who would I recommend our Reframe Your Brain summary to?

The 15-year-old anxious teenager, who’s too young for proper psychology books but wants to feel more confident, the 32-year-old failed entrepreneur who’s ashamed to admit that his business went bust, and anyone who doesn’t like walking their dog.

Last Updated on April 4, 2024

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!