Main Limitless ;; Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life
You may be interested in Powered by Rec2Me
Most frequently terms
Wow! I was looking for this Book.....with out any doubt Awesome Book...
Think you man for applauding it....thanks
Think you man for applauding it....thanks
29 July 2020 (22:15)
The Oxford essential guide to writing
26 September 2020 (17:27)
Amazing as usual ???
15 February 2021 (21:11)
This book can change your life, i promise you.
Your brain will never be the same way after you read this.
Your brain will never be the same way after you read this.
16 April 2021 (02:32)
this is amazing
take it now
JIM KWIK is a GENIUS
take it now
JIM KWIK is a GENIUS
12 May 2021 (11:22)
Finally that book is here. Just saw Jim's account and I said I gotta get this book.
21 May 2021 (03:04)
Praise for LIMITLESS “Jim Kwik knows how to get the maximum out of me as a human being.” — WILL SMITH “While many authors claim to teach some amazing skill, no skill is as powerful as learning how to learn. It is the superpower from which all others grow. . . . I’ve seen with my own eyes what can be done with this book’s triad of motivation, mindset, and method. Read on and apply what you learn. You just might amaze yourself.” — ERIC SCHURENBERG, CEO, Fast Company & Inc. “My research on Alzheimer’s underlines the importance of not only protecting your brain from injury but also of challenging yourself through continued learning. Jim Kwik has lectured, with great feedback, at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to our staff, caregivers, and patients; he is the expert on brain fitness and accelerated learning.” —JEFFREY L. CUMMINGS, M.D., SC.D., Founding Director, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health; Director, Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience; Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Brain Health, University of Nevada–Las Vegas (UNLV) “Where I empower women about money matters, Jim Kwik empowers people to take learning into their own hands. Our mind is our greatest wealth-building asset. When you read Limitless, you’ll not only get smarter, you’ll accomplish things you never thought possible.” — NICOLE LAPIN, TV news anchor, money expert, and #1 New York Times best-selling author of Rich Bitch, Boss Bitch and Becoming Super Woman “Warriors throughout time prepare and focus. They are unrelenting. Jim Kwik helps you to conquer your brain and hold your ground against the forces of distraction and negative thinking. His book Limitless is a must-read for an unstoppable mind.” — GERARD BUTLER, award-winning actor and producer “While I was at GE, Jim Kwik coached our executive team and spoke at many of our company meetings with high reviews. He is a world-class expert at delivering the training and tools that high-impact teams ne; ed to elevate their organization.” — BETH COMSTOCK, former Chief Marketing Officer and Vice Chair at General Electric and best-selling author of Imagine It Forward “I hang on every word out of Jim Kwik’s mouth. . . . He has such a powerful ability to help people unlock abilities that they never even knew they had.” — TOM BILYEU, CEO of Impact Theory and co-founder of Quest Nutrition “Limitless is the perfect companion to anyone who wishes to spark meaningful change. In this book, Jim will show you how to unleash your mind, your drive, and your life.” — LISA NICHOLS, speaker, CEO, and New York Times best-selling author of No Matter What! “When achieving breakthroughs, we must face skepticism and the deeply held conventional thinking that’s been drilled into so many of us. Limitless teaches you how to dispel the 7 lies of learning that are holding your true genius back. . . . Your brain won’t be the same after this book!” — NICK ORTNER, New York Times best-selling author of The Tapping Solution and The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self “In Limitless, Jim Kwik shares methods for unlocking your potential. He guides you, step by step, to become the person you want to be with his simple-to-start brain-enhancing and learning habits.” — BJ FOGG, PH.D., founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University and New York Times best-selling author of Tiny Habits “Jim Kwik is like a personal trainer for your brain. He had coached my team on accelerated learning strategies to help them sharpen their focus, productivity, and mental performance. I’ve always believed you win in your mind first, then step onto the playing field, not the other way around. Read this book, there are no limits.” — ALEX RODRIGUEZ, 3-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, World Series Champion, and CEO of A-Rod Corp “Transformation begins with preparing your mind for change. By the end of Limitless, you will believe in your untapped potential. New levels of success are possible and achievable with Jim Kwik as your guide.” — JACK CANFIELD, award-winning speaker, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, and New York Times best-selling author of The Success Principles “Memory is crucial to happiness, as Jim Kwik so beautifully explained during one of my most popular podcasts episodes ever. In his book Limitless, he’’ll challenge you to do some crazy ish, but I swear you’ll train your mind to conquer your days to live your best life. Best of all? You’ll realize you are enough.” — JEANNIE MAI, Emmy & NAACP award-winning entertainer/producer, co-host of The Real “In the same way that I help students and adults overcome their fears related to numbers and arithmetic, Jim Kwik helps people overcome their limiting beliefs about learning. Limitless contains the practical and proven speed-reading, studying, and memory methods we can all count on!” — SCOTT FLANSBURG, The Human Calculator®, Guinness World Record holder, founder of the National Counting Bee, and best-selling author of Math Magic “If you think you can’t read faster, remember more, or get unstuck, this book is for you. It will change your mindset, motivate you, and help you achieve what you never thought possible.” — DAVE ASPREY, CEO, founder of Bulletproof 360, Inc., and New York Times best-selling author of Super Human “Sleep has a huge impact on brain health, and so does training your mind for memory, learning continuously, and defeating negative thoughts. Limitless gives you the toolkit for long-lasting cognitive health. The 10 recommendations Jim shares for generating limitless brain energy are worth the price of the book alone.” — MICHAEL J. BREUS, PH.D., Clinical Psychologist, a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and best-selling author of The Power of When “The goal of the USC Performance Science Institute is to help students, entrepreneurs, and organizations compete and excel through applied, science-based practices. Jim Kwik’s workshop at USC was among our most valued and highest-rated. Jim’s accelerated learning strategies are proven and powerful. Limitless is essential reading for anyone who wants to challenge the limits of mental performance.” — DAVID BELASCO, co-founder of the USC Performance Science Institute, Executive Director, Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneurship “When it comes to learning faster and keeping your mental game strong, Jim Kwik is the guy. Get Limitless for a better brain. Save the brain!” — STEVE AOKI, two-time Grammy-nominated artist, musician, DJ, music producer, entrepreneur, founder of the Aoki Foundation for brain science and research and author of Blue “Our organization empowers people to change the world. Engaging 4.5 million change-makers requires focus, discipline, and fast thinking. Jim Kwik’s three-pronged Limitless model has helped our team upgrade their minds to better solve challenging problems and create greater social impact.” — MARC KIELBURGER, co-founder of the We Movement, humanitarian and activist for children’s rights, columnist, and New York Times best-selling author of Me to We “Exponential change requires a mental toolkit that amplifies creativity, rapid learning, global thinking, and optimism. Limitless is essential reading for anyone looking to expand the potential of their mind and advance beyond what is believed possible.” — PETER H. DIAMANDIS, Chairman and founder of XPRIZE Foundation, co-founder and Chairman of the Singularity University, and New York Times best-selling author of Abundance “Taking care of our brains is an integral part of health and well-being. Limitless gives you the power to train and optimize your mind so you can realize your full potential.” — MAIA AND ALEX SHIBUTANI, two-time Olympic medalist figure skaters, three-time world medalists, two-time U.S. champions, and authors of the Kudo Kids series “Jim Kwik’s methods for learning, memory, and thinking are so empowering. . . . Producing a record amount of content, globally, requires incredible attention to detail. Thanks to Jim’s teachings, our hosts are thinking better, recalling more, and prioritizing brain health for our success as well as their own. This book is a must-read!” — MARIA MENOUNOS, host of the Better Together with Maria podcast, CEO of @afterbuzztv, Emmy Award–winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness “As somebody who puts lots of emphasis on exercising the brain and not just the body, I found Jim Kwik’s work very empowering. Limitless will take you to incredible places you never expected.” — NOVAK DJOKOVIC, professional tennis player, winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles “My research on Alzheimer’s disease has taught me that we must continually strive to invent new ways to use our brains . . . . Jim Kwik’s Limitless is a revelation in learning how to learn. You’ll discover new possibilities to challenge your mind and live your best life.” — RUDOLPH E. TANZI, PH.D., Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, director of Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and New York Times best-selling author of Super Brain “Achieving your goals in life is as much a mental game as it is physical. Do you want to grow your skills and improve your focus? Limitless is your book. Jim Kwik is your coach.” — APOLO ANTON OHNO, eight-time Olympic medalist, speaker, and New York Times best-selling author of Zero Regrets “As a young girl, I dreamed of traveling to space. Dreaming big is something I’m passionate about teaching others, especially today’s youth. Jim shares that same vision that nothing can hold you back once you realize your limitless potential. Limitless will not only make you smarter, but help you dream bigger.” — ANOUSHEH ANSARI, CEO of XPRIZE Foundation, first female private space explorer, and first space ambassador “Jim Kwik is the world’s elite trainer when it comes to your brain. In Limitless, he lights a path toward a transformation that strengthens your mental game, makes you think faster, and leaves you smarter than when you started.” — TRACY ANDERSON, CEO, fitness pioneer, and author of Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method “When my son suffered a life-threatening traumatic brain injury, I learned that mindset is everything. In Limitless, Jim Kwik shares the mindset and methods that are essential to thriving in a world of change. Even when the odds seem stacked against you, this book will show you anything is possible.” — JJ VIRGIN, celebrity nutrition and fitness expert and New York Times best-selling author of The Virgin Diet “When you connect to your true self, something magical happens. I help people express themselves through movement and dance. Jim Kwik’s Limitless taps into that same reservoir of belief that anything is possible.” — JULIANNE HOUGH, Emmy award-winning dancer, actress, singer, and creator of KINRGY “In competition and in life, the finest performers stay patient, consistent, and relentless. Jim Kwik’s Limitless will help you reach a whole new mindset—one that helps you achieve your dreams.” — DEREK HOUGH, two-time Emmy award winner, six-time Dancing with the Stars champion, and New York Times best-selling author of Taking the Lead “Jim Kwik is an expert in achieving mental stamina and clarity of focus. Limitless will give you sustainable results in whatever you pursue.” — MIKE BRYAN, professional tennis player, all-time doubles team record holder “We know full well the importance of food as fuel for a healthy brain. What you do to sharpen your cognitive abilities matters too. In Limitless, Jim Kwik teaches you the mindset and metalearning strategies that help you reach genius levels.” — MAX LUGAVERE, host of the Genius Life podcast and New York Times best-selling author of Genius Foods “I’ve worked with on-screen superheroes throughout my career, and Jim’s ability to level up your learning and life is one of the world’s great superpowers. . . . Limitless is for any person or organization looking to unlock exceptional mental productivity and performance.” — JIM GIANOPULOS, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures “There’s a whole science behind brain fitness, memory enhancement, and mental acuity, and Jim Kwik is the ultimate guide. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to maximize their cognitive potential and learning abilities.” — LISA MOSCONI, PH.D., director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, associate professor of neuroscience in neurology and radiology, and author of The XX Brain “There’s no genius pill, but Jim gives you the process for unlocking your best brain and brightest future.” — From the foreword by MARK HYMAN, M.D., Head of Strategy and Innovation for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and 12-time New York Times best-selling author “Jim Kwik is just amazing. In my book Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, I wrote a whole chapter about him because one of the strategies to reverse brain aging and prevent Alzheimer’s disease is to work on your brain. And there is no one that I trust more than Jim Kwik and his programs to optimize brain functioning.” — DR. DANIEL AMEN, physician, double board-certified psychiatrist, and 10-time New York Times best-selling author “I’m keenly aware of how important it is to keep your mind and memory sharp. Jim Kwik’s tools and techniques in Limitless are your brain’s best friends.” — MARIA SHRIVER, Emmy award–winning journalist, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and New York Times best-selling author of I’ve Been Thinking “As a person who has quested for knowledge his entire life, I fully embrace what Jim Kwik has to teach in Limitless. When you learn how to learn, anything is possible, and Jim is the best in the world at showing you how.” — QUINCY JONES, music producer, recipient of Grammy Living Legend Award, and New York Times best-selling author of Q “I want to thank my friend Jim Kwik for all his support of the Stan Lee Foundation’s commitment to literacy and education. I believe there is a superhero in each of us, and at Kwik Learning you will discover how to unleash your superhero powers.” — STAN LEE, Marvel Chairman Emeritus “Jim Kwik is by far the world’s best Memory Trainer. Our program with Jim on Mindvalley became the number one program of the year, and in a study of almost 1,000 students, the average increase in reading speed was an astonishing 170% in just 7 days of 10-minute-a-day lessons.” — VISHEN LAKHIANI, founder and CEO of Mindvalley and New York Times best-selling author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind “Jim Kwik has the ability to expand your mind and shine a light on your inner genius. Like my song ‘Unwritten’ says—your life is your story. Limitless will help you write yours with new possibilities.” — NATASHA BEDINGFIELD, Grammy Award–nominated singer and songwriter Copyright © 2020 by Jim Kwik Published in the United States by: Hay House, Inc.: www.hayhouse.com® Published in Australia by: Hay House Australia Pty. Ltd.: www.hayhouse.com.au Published in the United Kingdom by: Hay House UK, Ltd.: www.hayhouse.co.uk Published in India by: Hay House Publishers India: www.hayhouse.co.in Cover design by: Rodrigo Corral Interior design by: Claudine Mansour Design Photograph on page 39: Used under license from Shutterstock.com Photograph on page 43: liliegraphie © 123RF.com Diagrams: Jose Alonso Other illustrations courtesy of the author Author photo credit: Nick Onken Indexer: J S Editorial, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording; nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise be copied for public or private use—other than for “fair use” as brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews—without prior written permission of the publisher. The author of this book does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician, either directly or indirectly. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions. Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4019-5823-7 e-book ISBN: 978-1-4019-5824-4 Audiobook ISBN: 978-1-4019-5825-1 For my readers and students and the limitless heroes inside you. Thank you for your time and trust. This one’s for you. CONTENTS Foreword Introduction Part I FREE YOUR MIND Chapter 1: Becoming Limitless Chapter 2: Why This Matters Now Chapter 3: Your Limitless Brain Chapter 4: How to Read and Remember This (and Any) Book Part II LIMITLESS MINDSET: The What Chapter 5: The Spell of Belief Systems Chapter 6: The 7 Lies of Learning Part III LIMITLESS MOTIVATION: The Why Chapter 7: Purpose Chapter 8: Energy Chapter 9: Small Simple Steps Chapter 10: Flow Part IV LIMITLESS METHODS: The How Chapter 11: Focus Chapter 12: Study Chapter 13: Memory Chapter 14: Speed Reading Chapter 15: Thinking Afterword 10-Day Kwik Start Plan Suggested Reading Acknowledgments About the Author Endnotes Index eBook Supplemental Material FOREWORD Our most precious gift is our brain. It is what allows us to learn, love, think, create, and even to experience joy. It is the gateway to our emotions, to our capacity for deeply experiencing life, to our ability to have lasting intimacy. It allows us to innovate, grow, and accomplish. Yet few of us realize that, by applying a handful of practical methods, we can enhance our brain and supercharge our ability to learn. Most of us know that we can improve our cardiovascular health through exercise and diet, but most of us do not realize that we can also greatly improve our brains, and in doing so, our life. Unfortunately, our world doesn’t foster a healthy environment for our brain. Before Jim Kwik provides a road map to become limitless, he indicts the four growing villains that are challenging our capacity to think, focus, learn, grow, and be fully human. The first is digital deluge—the unending flood of information in a world of finite time and unfair expectations that leads to overwhelm, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Drowning in data and rapid change, we long for strategies and tools to regain some semblance of productivity, performance, and peace of mind. The second villain is digital distraction. The fleeting ping of digital dopamine pleasure replaces our ability to sustain the attention necessary for deep relationship, deep learning, or deep work. I recently sat next to a friend at a lecture and noticed her picking up her phone multiple times within a few minutes. I asked for her phone and pulled up the screen time app. She had picked up her phone more than one thousand times and had one thousand notifications in one day. Texts, social media notifications, e-mails, and news alerts, while important in context, can derail our concentration and train us to be distracted from what matters most in the moment. The next villain is digital dementia. Memory is a muscle that we have allowed to atrophy. While there are benefits to having a supercomputer in your pocket, think of it like an electric bicycle. It’s fun and easy but doesn’t get you in shape. Research on dementia proves that the greater our capacity to learn—the more mental “brainercise” we perform—the lower our risk of dementia. In many cases, we have outsourced our memory to our detriment. The last brain-damaging villain is digital deduction. In a world where information is abundantly accessible, we’ve perhaps gone too far in how we use that information, even getting to the point where we are letting technology do much of our critical thinking and reasoning for us. Online, there are so many conclusions being drawn by others that we have begun to surrender our own ability to draw conclusions. We would never let another person do our thinking for us, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable with letting devices have that very power. The cumulative effects of these four digital villains robs us of our focus, attention, learning, and, most importantly, our ability to truly think. It robs us of our mental clarity and results in brain fatigue, distraction, inability to easily learn, and unhappiness. While the technological advances of our time have the potential to both help and harm, the way we use them in our society can lead to an epidemic of overload, memory loss, distraction, and dependency. And it’s only going to get worse. The message of this book couldn’t be more timely. You were born with the ultimate technology, and there is nothing more important than the health and fitness of our brain—it controls everything in life. Learning how to filter all the data, to develop new methods and skills for thriving in a distracted world drowning in a flood of information, is what is needed to thrive in the 21st century. Learning and the ability to learn faster and more easily makes everything else in life possible, which means that it’s never been a better time to train your brain the way you do your body. Just like you want a healthy body, you want a flexible, strong, energized, and fit brain. That’s what Jim does for a living—he is the personal trainer for the mind. The four supervillains are just an example of the limits you’ll learn how to overcome in this book. The key to living an exceptional life, as Jim states, is a process of unlimiting ourselves. And he has cracked the code for personal transformation with his Limitless Model. If you are struggling to reach a goal in any area, you must first ask: Where is the limit? Most likely, you’re experiencing a limit in your mindset, motivation, or methods—which means that it’s not a personal shortcoming or failure pointing to any perceived lack of ability. And contrary to what we tend to believe, our barriers are not set. We’re in full control and can overcome them at any time. If our mindset is not aligned with our desires or goals, we will never achieve them. It’s critical to identify your limiting beliefs, stories, and deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions about yourself and what’s possible. Examining, excavating, and expunging those beliefs is the first step to having a limitless mindset. I was told I could do anything by my mother, that I was smart, capable, and could be the best at anything I tried. That deeply held belief allowed me to succeed beyond my wildest dreams. But I also had the belief that relationships were hard and filled with pain and drama from witnessing my parents’ divorce and marriages. It took me nearly 50 years to erase that belief and find real happiness in my marriage. The second secret to a limitless life is your motivation. Jim outlines three key elements to motivation. First, your purpose. The reason why matters. I want to age well and am committed to lifting weights and getting stronger even though it is not my favorite thing to do. The purpose supersedes the discomfort. The second key is the ability to do what you want. This requires energy, and energy requires something called energy management. The science of human performance is critical to achieving your purpose—eating whole unprocessed food, exercise, stress management, quality sleep, and skills at communication and building healthy relationships (and eliminating toxic ones). And lastly the tasks must be bite-size, small steps that lead to success. Floss one tooth, read one page of a book, do one push-up, meditate for one minute, all of which will lead to confidence, and ultimately bigger successes. The last key to being limitless is using the right method. We have been taught 19th- and 20th-century tools for functioning in the 21st century. Limitless teaches us the five key methods to achieve whatever we want: Focus, Study, Memory Enhancement, Speed Reading, and Critical Thinking. Using these upgraded learning technologies allows us to harness our mindset and motivation to more easily and effectively reach our dreams. Jim is no stranger to limits. After a head injury as a child impaired his focus, concentration, and ability to learn, an insensitive teacher pointed to him and said, “There’s the boy with a broken brain.” Jim has spent his life learning how to overcome and heal from this injury and turn his challenges into a superpower of learning. We all suffer to some degree or another from broken brains. Limitless is the prescription for healing our brains, reframing limiting beliefs, and upgrading our life. Learning how to learn is the ultimate superpower, the one that makes every other skill and ability possible, and teaching this to you is this book’s goal. In Limitless, Jim Kwik provides a road map for doing exactly this. Most of us are not raised with the tools we need, but Jim is generously sharing everything he’s learned in this book. Jim has spent three decades working in the trenches with people from all walks of life—students, teachers, celebrities, construction workers, politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists. He has worked with some of the most advanced educational systems around the world, training educators, superintendents, and students in his methods. His teachings truly work and can benefit us all. There is no pill for genius, but there is a process to get there, and you’ll find it within these pages. Limitless is a blueprint for upgrading your brain, for not only learning how to learn faster, better, and more effectively, but also for healing your physical brain through nutrition, supplements, exercise, meditation, sleep, and more to increase the creation of new brain cells and the connections between them. Jim delivers three books in one. If your current mindset, motivation, and methods are limiting your ability to achieve your dreams, then Limitless is the owner’s manual to a better, brighter, brilliant brain and future. Your learning and life will never be the same. —MARK HYMAN, M.D. Head of Strategy and Innovation Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine Author of 12 New York Times best-selling books December 2019 INTRODUCTION What is your one wish? Seriously, if a genie offered to grant you one wish, but only one, what would you ask for? Limitless wishes, of course! Now, imagine that I’m your learning genie and I can grant you one learning wish—any one subject or skill. What one thing would you want to learn? What subject or skill would be the equivalent of asking for infinite wishes? To learn how to learn, right? If you really knew how to learn smarter, faster, and better, then you could apply that to everything. You could learn to master your mindset or your motivation, or use the methods to pick up Mandarin, marketing, music, martial arts, mathematics—there would be no limit! You’d be a mental superhero! Anything would be possible, because you would be limitless! My mission with this book is to grant you this wish in the pages that follow. Let’s start by saying how much I respect and admire you. By investing in this book and now reading it, you are far ahead of most of the population who simply accept their present conditions and constraints. You are part of a small group of individuals who not only want more for their lives but also are willing to do what it takes to get results. In other words, you are the hero of this story; you’ve answered the call to adventure. I believe the ultimate adventure we are all on is to reveal and realize our fullest potential and inspire others to do the same. I have no way of knowing how your life’s journey has taken you to this book. I’m guessing that at least part of that journey is accepting the confines put upon you, either by others or by yourself: You can’t read fast enough to keep up with everything you need to know. Your mind is not agile enough to succeed at work. You’re not motivated to get things done or you lack the energy to reach your goals. And so on. The nature of this of the book is transcending—ending the trance: the mass hypnosis and lies that we learned from our parents, programing, media, or marketing, that suggests we are limited. That, somehow, we are not enough, not capable of being, doing, having, creating, or contributing. Belief that you are limited might be holding you back from your biggest dreams as well—at least up until now. But I promise you that none of your beliefs truly constrain who you are. We all have vast potential inside of us, untapped levels of strength, intelligence, and focus, and the key to activating these superpowers is unlimiting yourself. For more than 25 years, I’ve worked with people of all ages, nationalities, races, socioeconomic statuses, and education levels. What I’ve discovered is that no matter where you come from, no matter what challenges you face, you have incredible potential that’s just waiting to be tapped. Every person—regardless of age, background, education, gender, or personal history—can advance beyond what they believe they deserve and is possible. And that includes you. Working together, you’ll come to think of your own limitations as an outmoded concept. Now in this book, I refer to superheroes and superpowers. Why is that? First, I am a bit of a geek that way. Because of my childhood brain injury and learning challenges, I escaped into comic books and movies to inspire me during my struggles. I realized that my favorite ones all shared the same pattern—the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell’s classic plot structure appears in nearly all famed adventures, including The Wizard of Oz; Star Wars; Harry Potter; Eat, Pray, Love; The Hunger Games; Rocky; The Lord of the Rings; Alice in Wonderland; The Matrix, and more. Think of your favorite story or one of the films or books I just mentioned. Does this sound familiar? The hero (for example, Harry Potter) starts out in the ordinary world, the world they’ve always known. The hero then hears the call to adventure. They have a choice—to ignore and stay in the ordinary world, where nothing will change, or heed the call and enter the new world of the unknown. If they heed the call (as Neo did with the red pill in The Matrix), they meet their guide or mentor (such as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid), who trains and prepares them to overcome obstacles and realize new levels of fulfillment. The hero is introduced to new powers and skills, and encouraged to utilize their current abilities like never before. They transcend perceived limitations, learn a new way of being, and eventually face their trials. When they return back to the ordinary world (like Dorothy going back to Kansas), they take with them the ultimate boon—the treasure, emotions, strength, clarity, and wisdom they discovered from their adventure. They then share their lessons and gifts with others. The Hero’s Journey is the perfect structure to lend power and purpose to your personal story. In Limitless, you are the superhero. One of my core beliefs is that human potential is one of the only infinite resources we have in the world. Most everything else is finite, but the human mind is the ultimate superpower—there is no limit to our creativity, imagination, determination, or ability to think, reason, or learn. Yet this resource is also among the least tapped. All of us can be the heroes of our own story, dipping into the well of our potential every single day and never having that well run dry. But so few of us approach our lives this way. That’s why I wrote this book—to help you realize that no matter where you are, or where you’ve been, you absolutely can free yourself and go from limits to liberation. That might be the only “extra” you need to transition from the ordinary world to the extraordinary world. This book is going to provide you with that extra. What you’ll get within these pages is a series of tools that will help you cast off your perceived restrictions. You’re going to learn how to unlimit your brain. You’re going to learn how to unlimit your drive. You’re going to learn how to unlimit your memory, your focus, and your habits. If I am your mentor in your hero’s journey, then this book is your map to master your mind, motivation, and methods to learn how to learn. And once you’ve done that, you will be limitless. Here’s the door; you know what’s waiting on the other side. Walk through it. PART I FREE YOUR MIND 1 BECOMING LIMITLESS “I’m so stupid.” “I don’t understand.” “I’m too dumb to learn.” These were my mantras growing up. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t tell myself that I was slow, dumb, and that I would never learn to read, much less amount to anything later in life. If a pill existed that could supercharge my brain and make me smarter in one swallow (as there was in the 2011 movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper), I would have given anything to take it. I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I did about myself. If you’d asked my teachers when I was a kid, many would have said that I was the last person they’d expect to be writing this book for you. Back then, they would have been surprised to know that I was reading a book, let alone writing one. This all stems from an incident in kindergarten that completely altered the course of my life. I was in class one day, and there were sirens outside the window. Everyone in the classroom took notice, and the teacher looked out and said she saw fire trucks. The entire class responded to this information the way kindergarteners do: We immediately rushed to the windows. I was particularly excited because, by that point, I was already obsessed with superheroes (I still am). To me, firefighters were the closest thing to real-life superheroes I knew. I bolted to the window with everyone else. The only problem was that I wasn’t tall enough to be able to look down at the fire trucks. One kid went to grab his chair to stand on, and that inspired the rest of us to do the same. I ran back to my desk to get mine, pushing it right up against the huge iron radiator that ran along the bottom of the windows. I got up on my chair, saw the firefighters, and completely lit up. This was so exciting! My eyes stared and mouth gasped as I watched these courageous heroes in action with their seemingly impenetrable uniforms and their bright red vehicle. But then one of the other kids grabbed my chair from beneath me, which caused me to lose balance and go flying head-first into the radiator. I hit the metal heater extremely hard and I started losing blood. The school rushed me to the hospital, where doctors tended to my wounds. But they were candid with my mother afterward; the injury to my brain was not mild. My mother said I was never quite the same after that. Where I had been an energized, confident, and curious child before, now I was noticeably shut down and had a new difficulty learning; I found it extremely hard to focus, I couldn’t concentrate, and my memory was awful. As you can imagine, school became an ordeal for me. Teachers would repeat themselves until I learned to pretend to understand. And while all the other kids were learning to read, I couldn’t make any sense out of the letters. Do you remember getting in those reading circles, passing around the book, and having to read out loud? For me, that was the worst—nervously waiting as the book crept closer and closer, only to look at the page and not understand one word (I think that’s where my crippling fear of public speaking initially came from). It would take me another three years to be able to read, and it continued to be a struggle and an uphill battle for a long time after that. I’m not sure I ever would have learned to read if it weren’t for the heroes I met and saw in comic books. Regular books couldn’t hold my attention at all, but my fascination with comics drove me to keep pushing myself until I could read their stories without waiting for someone else to read them to me. I would read them by flashlight under my covers late at night. Those stories gave me hope that one person could overcome impossible odds. My favorite superheroes growing up were the X-Men, not because they were the strongest, but because they were misunderstood and weirdly different. I felt I could relate to them. They were mutants, they didn’t fit into society, and people who didn’t understand them shunned them. That was me, minus the superpowers. The X-Men were outcasts, and so was I. I belonged in their world. I grew up in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City, and I was super-excited one night to discover that, according to the comic books, Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was located near me. When I was nine years old, I would get on my bike nearly every weekend to ride around my neighborhood looking for the school. I was obsessed. I thought, if only I could locate it, I would find in that school a place where I finally fit in, a place where it was safe to be different, a place where I could discover and develop my own superpowers. THE BOY WITH THE BROKEN BRAIN In the real world, life was not very kind. It was around this time that my grandmother, who lived with us and helped raise me, started showing advanced signs of dementia. Watching someone you love lose their mind and memory is hard to describe. It was like losing her over and over until she passed. She was my world and, combined with my learning challenges, she is why I am so passionate about brain health and fitness. Back in school, I was bullied and made fun of, and not just on the playground but in the classroom, too. I remember one day in elementary school a teacher, frustrated because I wasn’t getting the lesson, pointed at me and said, “That’s the boy with the broken brain.” I was just crushed to realize that this was how she saw me—and that others probably saw me the same way. Often when you put a label on someone or something, you create a limit—the label becomes the limitation. Adults have to be very careful with their external words because these quickly become a child’s internal words. That’s what happened with me in that moment. Whenever I struggled to learn, did badly on a quiz, wasn’t picked for a team in gym class, or fell behind my other classmates, I would tell myself it was because my brain was broken. How could I possibly expect to do as well as others did? I was damaged. My mind didn’t work like everyone else’s. Even when I studied much harder than my schoolmates, my grades never reflected the effort I was putting in. I was too stubborn to give up and managed to move on from grade to grade, but I was hardly thriving. While I was advanced in math because of the help of a few of my academically talented friends, I was horrible at most of the other subjects, especially classes such as English, reading, foreign languages, and music. Then, in my freshman year of high school, things got to the point where I was at risk of failing English. My parents were called in by my teacher to discuss what I could do to muster a passing grade. She offered an extra-credit project for me. I was to write a report comparing the lives and accomplishments of two geniuses: Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein. She told me that if I did a good job on this report, she would be able to give me enough points to make sure I passed the class. I considered this to be a huge opportunity, a chance to hit the reset button on what had been a difficult start to my high school career. I committed everything I had to writing the best report I possibly could. I spent hours and hours and hours at the library after school, trying to learn everything I could learn about these two brilliant minds while working on this paper. Interestingly, during that research I came across multiple mentions that Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci each struggled with alleged learning difficulties. After weeks of effort, I typed up the final report. I was so proud of what I’d done that I had the pages professionally bound. This report was a statement for me; it was the way I was going to announce to the world what I was capable of doing. The day the report was due, I put it in my backpack, excited about handing it to my teacher and even more excited about the response I anticipated she would have to what I’d done. I planned to give it to her at the end of class, so I sat through whatever we were doing that day, trying to concentrate but constantly finding my thoughts flitting back to the look I expected to see on my teacher’s face when I presented her with the report. But then she threw me a curveball I was not prepared to hit. About halfway through the class period, the teacher ended her lesson and told the students that she had a surprise for them. She said that I had been working on an extra-credit report and that she would like me to present it to the class—now. I had spent most of my school life trying to shrink so small that I wouldn’t be called on in class; when you are the broken one, you don’t feel like you have much to offer. I was beyond shy, and I didn’t like to draw attention to myself. My superpower back then was being invisible. I was also deathly afraid of speaking in public. I’m not exaggerating here. If you hooked me up to a heart monitor at that moment, I might have broken the machine. On top of this, I could barely breathe. There was simply no way I was going to be able to stand in front of everyone and talk to them about the work I’d done. So, I took the only option I saw available to me. “I’m sorry; I didn’t do it,” I stuttered, just barely getting the words out of my mouth. The expression of disappointment on my teacher’s face—so different from the expression I’d fantasized earlier—was so profound that my heart nearly broke. But I just couldn’t do what she wanted me to do. When class was over, after everyone had left, I threw my report in the garbage, and along with it a big part of my self-respect and worth. YOU ARE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK Somehow, in spite of all the troubles I had in school, I managed to get into a local university. I thought being a freshman in college meant a last opportunity to make a fresh start. I dreamt about making my family proud, and to showing the world (and, more importantly, myself) that I did have the potential to succeed. I was in a new environment. College professors taught differently than high school teachers did, and no one at this college had any preconceived notions about me. I worked my butt off, but I actually wound up doing even worse in my college classes than high school. A few months into this, I started to face my reality. I couldn’t see the point of wasting time and money that I did not have. I was ready to quit school altogether. I told a friend about my plans and he suggested that, before I made a decision, I go with him to visit his family for the weekend. He thought that getting me away from the campus might give me some perspective. When we arrived, his father showed me around their property before dinner. Along the way, he asked how school was going for me. It was the worst question anyone could ask me at the time, and I’m sure my response stunned him. I erupted into tears. Not holding-back-the-tears crying, but straight up bawling. I could see he was taken aback by this, but his innocent question had broken the dam holding back so many pent-up emotions. I told him the whole “boy with the broken brain” story while he listened patiently. When I was finished, he looked me directly in the eyes. “Jim, why are you in school?” he said. “What do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? What do you want to share?” I didn’t have immediate answers to any of these questions because no one had ever asked me them before, but I felt as though I needed to answer them now. I started to speak, and he stopped me. He tore a couple of pieces of paper from his pocket diary and told me to write down my answers. (In this book, I’ll show you how to ask questions to learn and achieve anything faster.) I spent the next several minutes writing a bucket list. When I was finished, I began folding up the papers and preparing to put them in my pocket. But as I was doing so, my friend’s father grabbed the pages out of my hand. I freaked out, because I didn’t think what I’d written was going to be read by anyone else, especially this complete stranger. But he opened the pages and read while I stewed in my discomfort. It seemed as though he took hours to read what I’d written, though I’m sure it was only a minute or two. When he finished, he said, “You’re this close,” holding the index fingers on his right and left hands about a foot apart, “to getting every single thing on that list.” That statement seemed absurd to me. I told him I couldn’t crack this list if I had 10 lifetimes. But then he took his fingers and, without expanding the distance between them, placed one on each side of my head. The space he was describing was my brain. “That’s the key,” he said. “Come with me; I have something to show you.” We walked back to the house where he took me to a room that I’d never seen before. It was filled wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with books. Now remember, at that point in my life, I was not a fan of books; it was like being in a room full of snakes. But what made it even worse was that he started grabbing snakes from his shelves and handing them to me. I looked at the titles and realized these were biographies of incredible men and women throughout history, as well as some early personal-growth books such as The Magic of Thinking Big, The Power of Positive Thinking, and Think and Grow Rich. “Jim, I want you to read one of these books a week.” My first thought was, Have you not been listening to anything I’ve been saying? I didn’t ask this out loud, but I did respond: “I don’t know how I could do that. You know, reading doesn’t come easily to me, and I have so much schoolwork to do.” He held up a finger, saying, “Don’t let school interfere with your education.” I later learned he was paraphrasing a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. “Look,” I said. “I understand how reading these books would be really helpful, but I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep.” He paused and then reached into his pocket, pulled out my bucket list, and started reading each one out loud. There was something about hearing my dreams in another person’s voice that messed with my mind and my soul something fierce. Truth be told, many of the things on the list were things I wanted to do for my family—things my parents could never afford or would never have done for themselves even if they could afford them. Hearing this read out loud moved me in ways I didn’t think possible. It deeply tapped me into my drive and purpose. (We will unleash your motivation together in Part 3.) When he was finished, I told him I would do exactly what he suggested, though secretly I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that feat. ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION I went back to school after the weekend, armed with the books he’d given me. On my desk were now two piles: one that I had to read for school, and one that I promised to read. The scale of what I’d agreed to registered with me. How was I going to make a dent in these piles when reading was such a labor for me? I was already struggling to get through the first pile—what was I going to do? Where would I get the time? So I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t watch television or spend time with friends. Instead, I practically lived at the library, until one night when I passed out from sheer exhaustion and fell down a flight of stairs, sustaining yet another head injury. It wasn’t until two days later that I woke up in the hospital. I thought I had died, and maybe a part of me wished that I had. It was truly a dark and low point in life. I was wasting away, my weight was down to 117 pounds, and I was so dehydrated that I was hooked up to IV bags. As miserable as I was, I said to myself, “There has to be a better way.” At that moment, a nurse came into my room, carrying a mug of tea with a picture of Einstein on it, the very same subject of the book report that inspired me to dig deep and study back in grade school. The quote next to his image said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” That’s when it dawned on me: Maybe I was asking the wrong question. I started to wonder, what was my real problem? I knew I was a slow learner, but I had been thinking the same way about it for years. I realized that I was trying to solve my learning problems by thinking the way I’d been taught to think—to just work harder. But what if I could teach myself a better method to learn? What if I could learn in a way that was more efficient, effective, and even enjoyable? What if I could learn how to learn faster? I committed in that very moment to finding that way, and with that commitment, my mindset began to shift. I asked the nurse for a course bulletin and flipped through it, page by page. After a couple hundred pages, I could find nothing but classes on what to learn—Spanish, history, math, science—but there were no classes teaching students how to learn. LEARNING HOW TO LEARN When I got out of the hospital, I was so intrigued by the idea of learning how to learn that I set my studies aside and focused only on the books that my mentor gave me, as well as books I found on adult learning theory, multiple intelligence theory, neuroscience, personal growth, educational psychology, speed reading, and even ancient mnemonics (I wanted to know what older cultures did to pass on knowledge before they had external storage devices like the printing press and computers). I was obsessed to solve this riddle: How does my brain work, so I can work my brain? About a couple months of deep immersion into my new self-directed studies, a light switch flipped on. My ability to focus was stronger. I started to understand new concepts because I was able to concentrate—I was no longer easily distracted. I could better recall information that I had studied weeks before with little difficulty. I had a new level of energy and curiosity. For the first time in my life, I could read and comprehend information in a fraction of the time that it used to take. My newfound competence gave me a sense of confidence that I’d never felt before. My daily life changed too—I was clear, I knew what to do to move myself forward, and I unlocked an empowering and sustainable sense of motivation. With these results, my mindset changed and I started to believe that anything was possible. But I was also upset. It seemed to me all of my years of self-doubt and suffering could have been avoided if this critical method of meta learning (learning how to learn) had been taught in school. I remember teachers telling me constantly to study and concentrate harder. Telling a child to do things like “concentrate” is like telling them to play the ukulele; it’s very difficult to do without ever being taught how. And, following the hero’s journey, I couldn’t help but share the treasure and lessons I learned. I started tutoring these methods to other students. The turning point came when I worked with a freshman who wanted to learn how to read faster, boost comprehension, and retain the information she was studying. She worked diligently and achieved her goal of reading 30 books in 30 days. I knew how she did it—I taught her the method you’ll learn in Chapter 14—but I wanted to know why. I discovered that her motivation was that her mother had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer, and she was determined to save her by studying books on health, wellness, and medicine. Months later, she called me, crying tears of joy, to tell me that her mother’s cancer was in remission. It was in that moment that I realized that if knowledge is power, then learning is our superpower. And our capacity to learn is limitless; we simply need to be shown how to access it. Seeing the way this woman’s life was changed ignited in me a purpose, allowing me to recognize what became my life’s mission: to teach the mindset, motivation, and methods to upgrade your brain and learn anything faster so you can unlock your exceptional life. Over the course of more than two decades, I’ve developed a reliable and proven set of practical methods to enhance learning, many of which appear in this book. I have not only kept my promise to read a book a week, but continue to serve and support everyone from children labeled “learning disabled,” to seniors with brain-aging challenges. Our team, dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, passionately supports Alzheimer’s research. And we believe education is every child’s birthright, funding the creation of schools around the world from Guatemala to Kenya, providing health care, clean water, and learning for children in need via amazing organizations such as WE Charity and Pencils of Promise. That’s our mission—to build better brighter brains. We’re leaving no brain behind. I’ve taught these techniques to others with astonishing results, leading me to address more than 150,000 people in live audiences each year in every field imaginable, to serve as the brain coach to top personalities in sports and entertainment, to train at many of the world’s leading companies and universities, to head a large accelerated learning online platform with students from 195 countries, and to host a top educational podcast called Kwik Brain, with tens of millions of downloads and to have my teachings receive hundreds of millions of video views. This book is filled with lessons and practical advice I’ve learned over the years, along with wisdom and resources from many of the guest experts who have been featured on our show. I say all of this because, having dedicated my life to researching and teaching this subject, I know what’s inside this book and, more importantly, I know what’s inside you. FINDING PROFESSOR X’S SCHOOL There’s a serendipitous coda to this story. As I mentioned, I regularly offer brain coaching to CEOs and their teams. A few years ago, Jim Gianopulos, then CEO and Chairman of 20th Century Fox, invited me to do a coaching session with his executive team. I went onto the film lot on a Friday morning and spent several hours with top staff members. They were particularly open to my message, and they instantly connected with the techniques. When the session was over, Jim came up to me and said, “That was incredible. It was one of the very best training sessions we’ve ever held.” I was delighted to hear this, of course. Who doesn’t love positive feedback? Later, during a tour of the lot, my eye landed on a poster for the Wolverine movie, which was scheduled to come out later that year. I pointed to the poster and said, “I can’t wait to see that film. I’m a huge fan.” “Oh, you like superheroes?” Jim said. “Love ’em. The X-Men have played a major role in my life.” I went on to tell him about my childhood brain injury, how comic books helped me learn to read, and my search for Professor X’s school. He smiled at me. “You know, we have another 30 days of shooting on the next X-Men movie in Montreal. Why don’t you come along and spend a week on the set? The actors would love to work with you.” There was no way I was going to turn this down. I’d never been on a movie set before, and this wasn’t just any movie set—it was an X-Men movie set. The next morning, we got on the plane they called the X-Jet. The other passengers included most of the mutant cast, and I found myself sitting between Jennifer Lawrence and Halle Berry. This was turning out to be the best day ever. On the plane and the next week on set, I got to share some of my brain tips for speed-reading scripts and for remembering lines with some of the extraordinary cast and crew. And guess what? The very first scene I got to see them shoot took place in Professor X’s school—the very place I’d spent endless days imagining and searching for when I was a kid. It was such a surreal moment for me. What’s one of your dreams? One that is ever present, like a splinter in your brain? Imagine it in vivid detail. Visualize it. Feel it. Believe it. And work daily for it. Amazingly, that’s not the best part of this story. When I got back from the trip, I came home to find a package waiting for me. It was huge, about the size of a large flat-screen TV. I opened the package and pulled out an enormous framed photograph of me with the entire X-Men cast. The photo had a note from the chairman, which read: Jim, thank you so much for sharing your superpowers with all of us. I know you’ve been looking for your superhero school ever since you were a child. Here’s your class photo. See the actual full-color superhero photo at LimitlessBook.com/classphoto. UNLIMITING TOGETHER unlimiting un·lim·it·ing (noun) The act or process of casting aside inaccurate and restrictive perceptions of one’s potential and embracing the reality that, with the right mindset, motivation, and methods, there are no limitations. For so much of my life, I allowed myself to be defined by my perceived restrictions. I’d gotten what I thought was a terrible break when I was a kid, and I was convinced that this had set the course for a compromised future. But, with the help of some key people, I came to discover that my perceived restrictions were not really restrictions at all. They were merely obstacles I needed to overcome or limitations I needed to unlearn. And when I did, what I could learn to be or do each day became limitless. Becoming limitless is not just about accelerated learning, speed-reading, and having an incredible memory. Yes, you will learn how to do all of that and more. But being limitless is not about being perfect. It’s about progressing beyond what you currently believe is possible. Just as you’ve learned limits from your family, culture, and life experiences, you can unlearn them. These constraints are only temporary obstacles that you can learn to overcome. What I have come to find over my years of working with people is that most everyone limits and shrinks their dreams to fit their current reality. We convince ourselves that the circumstances we are in, the beliefs we’ve accepted, and the path we are on is who we are and who we will always be. But there is another choice. You can learn to unlimit and expand your mindset, your motivation, and your methods to create a limitless life. When you do what others won’t, you can live how others can’t. By reading this book, you have taken an important step. Remember, one step in a better direction can completely change your destination. The key when you are taking your steps is to have a map, a model of success. Armed with this there, is no trial or dragon you can’t overcome. So here it is: The Limitless Model THE LIMITLESS MODEL You can learn to be, do, have, and share with no constraints. I wrote this book to prove this to you. If you are not learning or living at your full potential, if there is a gap between your current reality and your desired reality, here’s the reason: There is a limit that must be released and replaced in one of three areas: A limit in your Mindset—you entertain a low belief in yourself, your capabilities, what you deserve, or what is possible. A limit in your Motivation—you lack the drive, purpose, or energy to take action. A limit in your Methods—you were taught and are acting on a process that is not effective to create the results you desire. This applies to an individual, a family, an organization. We all have our own unique story of struggles and strengths. Whatever your situation happens to be, here’s the best part: You’re not alone. I’m going to help you become limitless in your own way, within the three-part framework you’re about to learn: Limitless Mindset, Limitless Motivation, and Limitless Methods. Let me break it down: Mindset (the WHAT): deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions we create about who we are, how the world works, what we are capable of and deserve, and what is possible. Motivation (the WHY): the purpose one has for taking action. The energy required for someone to behave in a particular way. Method (the HOW): a specific process for accomplishing something, especially an orderly, logical, or systematic way of instruction. One other note about the diagram on the previous page. You’ll see that where mindset crosses over with motivation, I have the word inspiration. You’re inspired, but you don’t know which methods to employ or where to channel your energy. Where motivation and method intersect, you have implementation. In this case, your results are going to be limited to what you feel you deserve, what you feel you are capable of, and what you believe is possible because you lack the proper mindset. Where mindset and method intersect, you have ideation. Your ambitions stay in your mind, because you lack the energy to do anything about them. Where all three intersect, you have the limitless state. You then have the fourth I, which is integration. Throughout this book, you’ll find exercises, studies, mental tools, and the results of exciting work being done both on the frontier of cognitive science and performance as well as ancient wisdom (for example, how ancient civilizations remembered generations of knowledge before external storage devices like the printing press). We’ll approach the 3 M’s in turn: In Part II, Limitless Mindset, you’ll learn what is possible when you eradicate limiting beliefs. In Part III, Limitless Motivation, you’ll discover why your purpose is your power and keys to unleash your drive and energy. In Part IV, Limitless Methods, you’ll discover how to learn at your best with proven processes—the tools and techniques that will propel you forward toward the life you desire and deserve. And, at the end of the book, I give you a 10-day plan to jump-start your progress toward a limitless week and a limitless life. When you finish this book, you’ll have the ability to be limitless in any area important to you, whether it’s academic, health, career, relationships, or personal growth. Since I never truly got to study at the X-Men school, I created it for you in our online Kwik Learning Academy, where people of all ages from 195 nations train with us daily to unleash their mental superpowers. Consider Limitless your textbook. It would be an honor to be your Professor X, and I’m so excited that you’ve decided to take this journey with me. Class is now in session. And here’s the best part; your timing could not be any better. 2 WHY THIS MATTERS NOW I’m a firm believer that we all have incredible superpowers that are waiting to be awakened. I’m not talking about the ability to fly, create iron-clad armor, or shoot lasers from your eyes, but real-life practical abilities like flying through books, iron-clad memory, laser focus, boundless creativity, clear thinking, mindfulness, superior mental attitude, and more. We are all superheroes in one way or another. Just as every superhero has powers, so do they have arch nemeses. Enter the supervillain. Think the Joker to Batman, Lex Luthor to Superman. The villains we face may not look the same as they do in the movies, but they’re still the bad guys—the ones you, as a superhero, need to vanquish and hold at bay. Modern-day supervillains get in our way and make life harder, keeping us from our potential. They hold us back and rob us of our productivity, prosperity, positivity, and peace of mind. And it’s up to us to recognize and defeat them. If you’ve ever read a comic book or watched a superhero movie, you know that supervillains are often borne of unlikely places. Take Harvey Dent, also known as Two-Face, for example. He starts out with the greatest of intentions—he’s a prosecutor helping to uphold the law and put the bad guys in jail, and he’s an ally of Batman. But through an act of revenge, Dent’s face is scarred, and he turns angry, bitter, and vengeful. He becomes what he had spent his life fighting: a duplicitous criminal who gambles with his victims’ futures. The good in him becomes twisted and used for sinister ends. In the same way, the four supervillains of learning started out innocent—they are being fed by some of the greatest advancements that humankind has made in the last hundred years. They were given rise by technology. To be clear, technology is a vital part of progress and being limitless. It allows us to do everything from connecting to learning, making our lives that much more convenient. But it is possible that we consume digital technology at a rate that even its creators would find extreme. Much of the technology available to us today is so new that we don’t know the level at which we need to control our interaction with it. Through our educational platform Kwik Learning, we have students in 195 countries and have generated tens of millions of podcast downloads. Our community has expressed a growing concern about their overreliance on technology and they come to us to upgrade their brains to find relief from these “four horsemen” of our age: digital deluge, digital distraction, digital dementia, and digital deduction. It’s important to note that overload, distraction, forgetfulness, and default thinking have been around for ages. While technology doesn’t cause these conditions, it has great potential to amplify them. The benefits of the digital age are plentiful, but let’s take a look at how the advances in technology that help you, can possibly also hinder you. DIGITAL DELUGE Do you have too much to process but not enough time? We’re privileged to live in a world with so much unfettered access to information. In this age of connectivity, ignorance is a choice. Compared to the 15th century, we now consume as much data in a single day as an average person from the 1400s would have absorbed in an entire lifetime. Not so long ago, information moved glacially through word of mouth, or a newspaper, or a posted bulletin in a town square. Now we have so much access to information that it’s taking a toll on our time and our quality of life. The average person consumes three times as much information as we did in the 1960s;1 a 2015 report indicated that respondents spent eight hours a day consuming media. In an NPR interview, New York Times tech reporter Matt Richtel said that after 20 years of glorifying technology as if all of it were good, “I think science is beginning to embrace the idea that some technology is Twinkies and some technology is Brussels sprouts. If we consume too much technology, just like if we consume too much food, it can have ill effects.”2 In a University of California, San Francisco, study on the effect of downtime, researchers gave rats a new experience and measured their brain waves during and after the activity. Under most circumstances, a new experience will express new neural activity and new neurons in the brain—that is, if the rat is allowed to have downtime. With downtime, the neurons made their way from the gateway of memory to the rest of the brain, where long-term memory is stored. The rats were able to record memories of their experiences, which is the basis for learning.3 Doesn’t that make you wonder what happens if you don’t have downtime? There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that if we never let our mind wander or be bored for a moment, we pay a price—poor memory, mental fog, and fatigue. As far back as the mid-1990s (when digital deluge was a fraction of the concern it is now), research was beginning to show that there were real health risks involved with navigating through an always-on world. A Reuters study, ominously titled “Dying for Information,” showed that, “Two out of three respondents associated information overload with tension with colleagues and loss of job satisfaction; 42 percent attributed ill-health to this stress, 61 percent said that they have to cancel social activities as a result of information overload and 60 percent that they are frequently too tired for leisure activities.” The study goes on to add, “Faced with an onslaught of information and information channels, they have become unable to develop simple routines for managing information.”4 What’s more, we also have to contend with the fact that the half-life of information has decreased. The half-life of information is the amount of time that passes before that information is replaced by newer or more accurate information. You can study to your heart’s content; the information you process now will be outdated sooner than you think. “Facts” written in articles, books, and documentaries are based on strong evidence and accepted as truth. But then they are completely reversed when a new study comes out. I don’t need to tell you how completely inundated each of us is with digital details. Even when we try to go “off the grid,” digital information somehow finds us. While I’m writing this, I’ve shut down all my devices. But I need to have access to the Internet for research purposes, and a handful of random notifications and updates still popped up on my computer (yes, I know I can turn these off as well, but you get my point). In Chapter 12 (Study) and Chapter 14 (Speed Reading), you will discover practical ways to catch up, keep up, and get ahead of the digital deluge of information you must process each day. KWIK START Take a moment and schedule 30 minutes of white space in your calendar for this week. This is time to be spent away from technology, time dedicated to clear your mind, relax, and be creative. DIGITAL DISTRACTION Before mobile devices, we would say “brb” (be right back) all the time when we were online. We don’t say it anymore. We no longer leave. We live here now. Because of our always-on, ever-connected devices, we’re struggling to find connection when we’re with friends and family, and we’re struggling to stay focused at work. Most of us deal with some kind of work-life situation where we don’t feel comfortable forgoing digital connection for large swaths of time every day. So we stay on the grid out of the fear that if we were unreachable, we would lose out. The trouble is, we’re wired to enjoy it. Each successive hit of dopamine we get from the likes we receive on social media, or from the texts we get from loved ones or friends, only reinforces our behavior. But those rewards are changing our brains. Instead of relaxing into the downtime that we might experience when waiting in line, waiting for a bus or an appointment, etc., we pull out our phones and train our distraction muscles. What happens when this is our constant way of being, when every loose moment is filled with shining stimulus? Staying connected may make us feel more secure, but it doesn’t make us happier. Ryan Dwyer, MA, of the University of British Columbia, led a study that showed how our digital habits are affecting our relationships. In one experiment, more than 300 adults and university students were asked to keep their phones on the table, easily accessible, while others were asked to put them on silent and keep them in a container on the table during a meal. Afterward, participants were asked to respond to a questionnaire that asked them about their feelings of connectedness, enjoyment, distraction, and boredom. The survey also asked them to detail the amount of time they spent on their phone during the meal. Those whose phones were accessible used them more often . . . and they described themselves as feeling more distracted. They also enjoyed the dinner less than the diners who didn’t have access to their phones. “Modern technology may be wonderful, but it can easily sidetrack us and take away from the special moments we have with friends and family in person,” Dwyer says of the study.5 Just as few of us have learned how to learn, not many know how to process and filter the massive amount of information we are constantly seeing. We just multitask to get all of it in, and this doesn’t serve us well. “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task,” notes neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin in his book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. “And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain. This leads to compromises in both cognitive and physical performance.”6 From app notifications to message alerts, it’s not just adults who deal with this. With the availability of technology and social pressure to be online and active on social media, children and teenagers experience the constant distraction, too. In Chapter 11 (Focus), you will discover the keys to sustained concentration and focus development to learn and get things done. KWIK START Go to the notification settings of your phone and turn off all unnecessary and distracting pings and dings. Do this now. DIGITAL DEMENTIA When is the last time you had to remember someone’s phone number? I’m dating myself here, but I’m part of a generation that, when you wanted to call your friend down the block, you needed to know their number. Can you still remember some of your best friends’ numbers from childhood? What about the number of the person you talk or text with every day? You no longer have to, because your mobile remembers it for you. This is not to say anyone wants to or should memorize 200 phone numbers, but we’ve all but lost the ability to remember a new one, or a conversation we just had, the name of a new potential client, or something important we need to do. Neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer uses the term digital dementia to describe how overuse of digital technology results in the breakdown of cognitive abilities. He argues that short-term memory pathways will start to deteriorate from underuse if we overuse technology. It’s the same with GPS. Move to a new city and see how quickly you become reliant on GPS to tell you how to get around. Then notice how long it takes you to map new roads in your mind—probably much longer than when you were younger, but not because your brain isn’t working as well. With tools like GPS, we don’t give our minds the chance to work. We rely on technology to do the memorization for us. This reliance may be hurting our long-term memory. Maria Wimber of the University of Birmingham told the BBC that the trend of looking up information prevents the build-up of long-term memories. In a study that examined the memory habits of 6,000 adults in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, Wimber and her team found that more than a third of respondents turned to their computer first to retrieve information. The UK came in the highest—more than half of the participants searched online first without trying to come up with the answer themselves.7 Why is this a big deal? Because such instant information can be easily and immediately forgotten. “Our brain appears to strengthen a memory each time we recall it, and at the same time forget irrelevant memories that are distracting us,” said Dr. Wimber. Forcing yourself to recall information instead of relying on an outside source to supply it for you is a way of creating and strengthening a permanent memory. When you contrast that with the reality that most of us have a habit of constantly looking up information—maybe even the same information—without bothering to try to remember it, it seems we’re doing ourselves harm. Is relying on technology always bad? Many researchers disagree. The argument goes that by outsourcing some menial tasks like memorizing phone numbers or doing basic math or getting directions to a restaurant we’ve visited before, we’re saving brain space for something that matters more to us. There’s research that says our brains are more like a muscle, rather than a hard drive that fills up. That the more you use it, the stronger it gets, and the more it can store. The question is: Are we making those choices consciously, or are we acting out of unconscious habit? Too often, we outsource our brains to our smart devices, and our smart devices are making us, well, a little bit stupid. Our brains are the ultimate adaptation machines, capable of seemingly endless levels of evolution. And yet we often forget to give it the exercise it needs. Just as there is a physical price to always relying on the technology of the elevator instead of taking the stairs, so is there a price for lazy mental muscles. Use it or lose it. In Chapter 13 (Memory), I will show you simple tools and techniques to remember anything from names and speeches to languages, faster and easier. KWIK START Take a minute to exercise your memory: Memorize the phone number of someone you communicate with regularly. DIGITAL DEDUCTION “In a digital-first world, where millennials obtain all their answers to problems at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger, the reliance on technology to solve every question confuses people’s perception of their own knowledge and intelligence. And that reliance may well lead to overconfidence and poor decision-making,” says Rony Zarom, founder of the video collaboration platform newrow.8 The ubiquity of information about everything also means that there’s a ubiquity of opinion about everything. If you want to know how to feel about a hot-button issue, you can just go online and collate the opinions of others. If you want to know the implications of an event or a trend, a quick online search will provide endless amounts of analysis. The upshot is that deduction—an amalgam of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity that is an essential skill for being limitless—is becoming automated. There’s a certain amount of value to this, of course. Before the Internet, we were limited in our access to the opinions of others. In an ideal world, being able to get as many perspectives on a topic as possible would be enormously valuable in helping us to form our own opinions. Unfortunately, that’s rarely how it plays out in the real world. Instead, we tend to identify a handful of sources with which we align and then give those sources extreme influence over our thinking and decision-making. In the process, the “muscles” we use to think critically and reason effectively are atrophying. We’re letting technology do the deduction for us. And if technology is forming our deductions, then we are also ceding much of our problem-solving ability—something so important and something we will discuss at length later in this book. Psychologist Jim Taylor defines thinking as, “The capacity to reflect, reason, and draw conclusions based on our experiences, knowledge, and insights. It’s what makes us human and has enabled us to communicate, create, build, advance, and become civilized.” He then goes on to caution that there is “a growing body of research that technology can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think.”9 Patricia Marks Greenfield, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UCLA, has been looking at this issue for more than a decade. In discussing the impact on education, she wrote, “What is the effect on learning if college students use their laptops to access the Internet during a classroom lecture? This was tested in a communication studies class where students were generally encouraged to use their laptops during lectures, in order to explore lecture topics in greater detail on the Internet and in library databases. Half of the students were allowed to keep their laptops open, while the other half (randomly assigned) had to close their laptops. Students in the closed laptop condition recalled significantly more material in a surprise quiz after class than did students in the open laptop condition.”10 Because they were engaging their minds in the lecture rather than looking for what the Internet already thought about the subject, they were much more responsive when it was time to reason for themselves. Greenfield analyzed another study that showed that college students who watched a news program without the crawl at the bottom of the screen remembered significantly more of what the anchors were discussing. Playwright Richard Foreman fears that this reliance on the Internet to do much of our thinking is changing our very selves. “I come from a tradition of Western culture, in which the ideal (my ideal) was the complex, dense and ‘cathedral-like’ structure of the highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West . . . . But today I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the ‘instantly available.’”11 Do you remember what it was like when you were approaching your teens and you first started formulating thoughts and opinions independent of your parents? My guess is that this experience was extremely liberating for you and that it might have even been the first time in your life when you truly felt like your own person. What had happened to you, of course, was that your critical faculties had become refined enough to allow you to regularly employ reason to navigate through life. Why, then, would you want to turn this liberating skill over to a device? Think about it: How do you feel when someone tries to impose their thinking on you? If a family member, friend, or colleague came up to you and said, “Don’t think about this; here’s your opinion,” you’d try to get away from that person as soon as you possibly could. Yet, when we immediately reach for the Internet to provide us with information, we’re essentially inviting the same thing. In Chapter 15, I will provide you with a powerful set of tools that will allow you to supercharge your thinking and expand your perspective on any topic or problem. While these four horsemen are the ones we need to contend with most vociferously, there’s another digital danger that is worthy of our attention. I call this digital depression, a result of the comparison culture that emerges when we let the highlight reels of the social media feeds of others cause us to perceive ourselves as less than. Now, I enjoy social media. I love staying connected with our community of students and podcast listeners and staying updated with the everyday lives of my family and friends. I appreciate it so much as not only a source of entertainment, but also education and empowerment. But I only recommend using it consciously, not mindlessly out of habit, and in a harmonious way so it doesn’t highjack your productivity and peace of mind. In the upcoming Part II: Limitless Mindset, I share ideas to mitigate these feelings of not being enough, as well as fears of looking bad or missing out. Those are the same limits that stand in the way of personal growth and learning. In Part III: Limitless Motivation, I will show you how to add, break, or change these habits. KWIK START Think about a decision you need to make. Schedule some time to work on that decision without the use of any digital devices. KEEPING THE VILLAINS AT BAY In the hero’s journey, the heroes need villains just as much as villains need heroes. The challenges from trials and rivals make us grow and become better. The power and strength of the villain determines the necessary power and strength of the hero. If the villain was weak, there would be nothing to vanquish—and no need for the hero to rise to greatness. In my podcast interview with Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game, Simon refers to our “worthy rivals,” those who help point out the personal weaknesses we need to address. That is where your opportunity lies. As I mentioned, I love the light side of technology—how it can connect us, educate us, and empower us, make our lives easier. What we’ve just described are a few potential drawbacks of technology, which is an inherent part of all the good that it brings into our lives. Like fire, technology has changed the course of human history. However, fire can cook your food or burn your home down—it’s all in how you use it. Like any tool, technology itself isn’t good or bad, but we must consciously control how it’s used. If we don’t, then who becomes the tool? It’s up to you to choose how you engage. KWIK START Which of the four digital villains do you believe are currently most disrupting your performance, productivity, and peace of mind? Take a moment and write the name of this villain down. Conscious awareness is the first part to solving a problem. 3 YOUR LIMITLESS BRAIN You may be thinking, Jim, I see what you mean about technology. I wouldn’t want to live without it, but I do feel more overloaded, distracted, and forgetful than ever. Here’s the good news: You were born with the ultimate technology, the greatest superpower. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge just how extraordinary your brain is. It generates up to 70,000 thoughts per day. It races with the speed of the fastest race car. Like your fingerprints, it is uniquely yours—there aren’t two brains in the universe exactly the same. It processes dramatically faster than any existing computer, and it has virtually infinite storage capacity. Even when damaged, it is capable of producing genius, and even if you only have half a brain, you can still be a fully functioning human being. And remarkable stories about it abound. Like the one about the comatose patient who somehow developed a method of communication with his doctor. Or the woman who could recall important events by date going back as far as when she was 12 years old. Or the slacker who became a mathematical genius after suffering a concussion during a bar fight. None of this is science fiction or the product of a superhero comic. They’re just examples of the extraordinary function built into that remarkable machine between your ears. We take so much of that function for granted. Let’s think about just what the average person has accomplished simply by being an “average” person. By the age of one, you learned how to walk, no simple task considering how many complex neurological and physiological processes are required. A year or so after that, you learned how to communicate through the use of words and language. You learned dozens of new words and their meanings on a daily basis and kept doing so all the way through school. And while you were learning to communicate, you were also learning to reason, to calculate, and to parse an endless number of complex concepts—and all of that was before you read a single page of a book or attended one class! Our brains are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Think about it. We can’t fly, we aren’t particularly strong or fast, we can’t climb with the dexterity of some animals, we can’t breathe underwater. As far as most physical functions are concerned, we’re just average. But because of the power of our brains, we are overwhelmingly Earth’s most dominant species. By harnessing that incredible mental power, we have created ways to explore the ocean depths like a fish, move tons of weight like an elephant, and even fly like a bird. Yes, the brain is quite a gift. The brain is so complex that we know more about our vast universe than we do about its workings, and we’ve learned more about it in the past decade than we’d previously learned over the course of human history . . . and we’ll learn even more about it from the time this book goes to press to the time it hits the bookshelves. Our understanding of the brain is ever evolving, and we know that what we’ve learned about it is only a tiny fraction of what there is to be learned. But what we already know is staggering. So, let’s take a journey through your limitless brain. The brain is part of the central nervous system (CNS). Similar to the control tower at an airport, your brain acts as its control center, directing all the comings and goings of information, processes, and impulses. The brain has three major areas: the brain stem, the cerebellum, and the cerebral cortex (both the cerebellum and cerebral cortex start with cere, Latin for “wax,” because of its waxy appearance). The brain is made of fat and water, weighs approximately three pounds, and facilitates incredible power and ability.1 The brain stem moderates the basic functions we need to live, such as breathing, maintaining a regular heart rate, impulses to eat or have sex, and our fight-or-flight responses. It is located at the top of your spine and the base of your skull, buried deep within the brain. At the back of the brain, the cerebellum is responsible for moderating movement and coordination. There’s also increasing evidence that it plays a role in our decision-making. The cerebral cortex is the largest part of our brain, where the majority of our complex thinking, short-term memory, and sensory stimulation take place. It is made up of the occipital, parietal, temporal, and frontal lobes. Our frontal lobes are where most of our thinking takes place: where logic and creativity derive. The brain is split into two halves that are connected by the corpus callosum, which acts like a bundle of telephone wires between the lobes, sending messages back and forth. Right now, you have somewhere around 86 billion neurons (also called brain cells) firing and acting together in concert as you read these words and assimilate the information on these pages.2 These neural signals are released into the brain and received by neurotransmitters, which then pass the message along to other neurotransmitters or stop the message altogether if that’s the appropriate response. We used to think that we reached our neurological peak in late adolescence, after which our brains never changed—other than to deteriorate. We now know that this is far from the truth. Our brains have the capacity for neuroplasticity, which means that it can be changed and shaped by our actions and by our environments. Your brain is always changing and molding itself to your surroundings and to the demands you place on it. Because our brains are subject to the influence of our genes and environment, we each possess a brain that is entirely unique to us. They’re like snowflakes; no two are alike. Each brain adapts to the needs of its owner. Let’s look at someone raised in an environment that was full of stressors such as poverty, lack of access to food, or lack of safety. That person will have a very different brain structure than someone brought up in a very comfortable, affluent, well-cared-for setting. But before you jump to the conclusion that one environment is “better” than the other and breeds a better functioning brain, I challenge you to reconsider. As I stated earlier, the brain is capable of being molded and shaped, meaning that at any point anyone can decide to change the way their brain functions. While it’s easy to assume that the individual who grew up in a more stressful, unsupportive environment may not wind up reaching their full potential due to their brain’s development under those circumstances, growing evidence suggests those people are able to thrive and reach new levels of success due to the mindset they are forced to develop in such a situation. Based on the number of successful people who overcame troubled upbringings, it may be that a difficult childhood or challenging upbringing breeds resilience among other attributes that lead to success. UNDERSTANDING NEUROPLASTICITY What can we learn from the brains of London taxicab drivers? This is the question neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire of University College London posed as she considered the vast amount of information held in the brains of the city’s cab drivers, appropriately called “The Knowledge.” To earn their licenses, applicants traveled by moped through a specific section of the city—a 10-kilometer radius of Charing Cross station—for three to four years, memorizing the maze of 25,000 streets within as well as the thousands of attractions they supported. Even after this intense study, only about 50 percent of applicants pass the series of licensing exams. Perhaps, thought Maguire, those successful had larger than average hippocampi. Maguire and her colleagues discovered that London taxi drivers did indeed have “more gray matter in their posterior hippocampi than people who were similar in age, education, and intelligence who did not drive taxis. In other words, taxi drivers had plumper memory centers than their peers. It seemed that the longer someone had been driving a taxi, the larger his hippocampus, as though the brain expanded to accommodate the cognitive demands of navigating London’s streets.”3 The London Taxi Cab Study provides a compelling example of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to reorganize and transform itself as it is exposed to learning and new experiences. Having to constantly learn new routes in the city forced the taxi cab drivers’ brains to create new neural pathways. These pathways changed the structure and size of the brain, an amazing example of the limitless brain at work. Neuroplasticity, also referred to as brain plasticity, means that every time you learn something new, your brain makes a new synaptic connection. And each time this happens, your brain physically changes–it upgrades its hardware to reflect a new level of the mind. Neuroplasticity is dependent on the ability of our neurons to grow and make connections with other neurons in other parts of the brain. It works by making new connections and strengthening (or weakening, as the case may be) old ties.4 Our brain is malleable. We have the incredible ability to change its structure and organization over time by forming new neural pathways as we experience, learn something new, and adapt. Neuroplasticity helps explain how anything is possible. Researchers hold that all brains are flexible in that the complex webs of connected neurons can be rewired to form new connections. Sometimes, that means the brain compensates for something it has lost, as when one hemisphere learns to function for both. Just as there are people who have suffered strokes and have been able to rebuild and regain their brain functions, those that procrastinate, think excessive negative thoughts, or can’t stop eating junk food may also rewire and change their behaviors and transform their lives. If learning is making new connections, then remembering is maintaining and sustaining those connections. When we struggle with memory or experience memory impairment, we are likely experiencing a disconnection between neurons. In learning, when you fail to remember something, view it as a failure to make a connection between what you’ve learned and what you already know, and with how you will use it in life. For example, if you feel that something you’ve learned is valuable in the moment, but that you’ll never use it again, you are unlikely to create a memory of it. Similarly, if you learn something but have no higher reasoning as to why it’s important to you or how it applies to your life or work, then it’s likely that your brain will not retain the information. It’s totally normal to have a memory lapse—we’re human, not robots. But if we respond to this lapse in memory with the attitude that “I have a bad memory,” or “I’m not smart enough to remember this,” then we negatively affect our ability to learn and grow. In other words, the belief we might develop in response to forgetting does far more damage than the lapse in memory. That kind of self-talk reinforces a limiting belief, rather than acknowledging the mistake and reacquiring the information. What does this mean for learning? Plasticity means that you can mold and shape your brain to suit your desires. That something like your memory is trainable—when you know how to help your brain receive, encode, process, and consolidate information. It means that with a few simple changes to something like your environment, your food, or your exercise, you can dramatically change the way your brain functions. I will share these energy tips in detail in Chapter 8. Here’s the bottom line: Plasticity means that your learning, and indeed your life, is not fixed. You can be, do, have, and share anything when you optimize and rewire your brain. There are no limitations when you align and apply the right mindset, motivation, and methods. YOUR SECOND BRAIN My students tell me after they learn about the vastness of their brain, they have a whole new sense of worth, that their self-esteem grows overnight. Here’s more good news: You are not limited to just one brain, you have a second—your gut. Have you ever had a “gut feeling”? That moment when you just knew? If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach,” did you ever wonder why that was? Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health, and even the way you think. Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. Science is only beginning to understand the brain-gut axis and how it affects our brains, our moods, and our behavior. You may hear it referred to as the “brain-gut connection.” In the last decade, we’ve discovered that the gut has an outsize effect on the way our brains function. One can liken it to the way a tree functions. The roots in the ground are drawing up vital nutrients and water from the soil as well as communicating with other plants. Those nutrients are then brought up into the body of the tree, fortifying and building the trunk, and giving the tree what it needs to sprout new leaves each spring, which in turn gather light, another energy source. In the same way, the nutrients we take in are absorbed through our intestines. We rely on those nutrients to fuel our brains. While our brains take up very little of our total body weight, they use 20 percent of the energy we take in, so nutrients make a huge difference in the way our brains function on a day-to-day basis. The gut is lined with more than a hundred million nerve cells, and it makes up part of the ENS. When a baby grows in the womb, the ENS and the CNS develop from the same tissue and remain connected via the vagus nerve. In many ways, the two systems mirror each other in structure. They also both use many of the same neurotransmitters to function, including serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. As with CNS, we used to believe that we are each born with a certain amount of cells—and that’s it. But like the brain, we now know the ENS makes new neurons throughout adulthood and can be repaired when damaged.5 The gut is made up of these neurons as well as a network of bacteria that form the microbiome, and as with the brain, each of us has our own unique microbiome. What’s more, these nerve cells operate through startlingly similar pathways as the brain. In 2010, neuroscientist Diego Bohórquez of Duke University discovered that the enteroendocrine cells of the gut had “footlike protrusions” that resembled the synapses that neurons use to communicate. This caused Bohórquez to wonder if these cells could “talk” to the brain using signals similar to the way neurons do. He hypothesized that if this were happening, they would have to be using the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain stem.6 After further testing, they discovered that the cells do in fact use the vagus nerve to take up messages and send them to the brain, faster than could be done via the bloodstream. TEAM EFFORT The connection between the brain and the gut is still being explored, but it seems that they function in very similar ways and that they function in tandem. The little brain in conjunction with the big one partly determines our mental state. When you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, or conversely that you should follow a hunch, it’s not just superstition—your gut has its own way of interpreting events and giving your brain signals. Furthermore, when you feed your gut with subpar food, you’re also feeding your brain with subpar fuel. Right now, your gut is digesting the food you just ate and sending that fuel to your brain. At the same time, a part of your brain is taking in the feel of the pages under your fingertips (or your e-reader, if that’s your preference), sensing the comfort of the chair supporting you, and monitoring the environment around you to make sure you’re safe. Another part of your brain is taking in the smells of the environment, maybe coffee, or perfume, or the scent of the book’s pages. Another part of your brain is absorbing the word-symbols on the page of this book and turning them into meaning, which is then processed and stored in short-term memory, where it will then be sent to long-term memory (under the right conditions, which we’ll get to in a moment). All of this is to say that you have the ultimate superpower between your ears. You also have the ability to hone that superpower