We have all these experts giving us different rules for how to manage our health, our relationships, our finances, our spiritual development, etc. But why should we compartmentalize our lives like this? Why should growth be so complicated? I wanted to find a smarter, simpler approach -- a set of universal principles that we can trust no matter what problems or circumstances we face in life. Like many others in the field, I'd been writing about the branches of personal development, but what was really needed was a book about the roots.
Personal Development for Smart People is that book.
Personal Development for Smart People definitely isn't a rehashing of previous blog posts or articles. The ideas in the book are new and original. Only a small portion of the content is based on existing material from this website.
This is a very unique book. Even if you've read 1000 or more personal development books like I have, I dare say you've never read anything quite like this.
You'll find this to be an incredibly well-structured book. I spent a disgusting amount of time on the book's high-level organization to make it as clear and easy to follow as I could.
I put a lot of effort into achieving a good left-brain / right-brain balance for the content. Even though I'm left-handed (and supposedly right-brained), I tend to be very left-brained and analytical in my writing, so I made a special effort to include plenty of right-brained material such as personal stories and application exercises to illustrate the book's key points. Even so, this is a very content-rich book. I shied away from including anything that seemed lightweight or fluffy. I wanted to ensure that every page would feature hard-hitting ideas.
I honestly expect this book will permanently change the way you think about personal growth. Instead of a monstrous sea of complexity, this book simplifies all growth efforts to a fairly simple set of core principles.
Those principles can be summarized by this diagram:
There are seven principles total: truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. All of these are universal principles, so they can be applied to any area of your life -- health, relationships, spiritual development, finances, daily habits, etc.
These principles are so universal that you can pick up any decent self-help book, and you'll be able to recognize some combination of these principles in the writing. These principles are the roots.
Truth, love, and power are the primary principles. The other principles are secondary because they can be derived from the first three. The diagram shows how this works:
What arises from this model is a new definition of human intelligence: Intelligence is one's degree of alignment with truth, love, and power.
You can't be intelligent if you turn your back on truth and succumb to falsehood and denial. Similarly, it isn't intelligent to withdraw and isolate yourself from everyone and everything because that would rob you of all your best learning and growth experiences. And lastly, it isn't intelligent to weaken and disempower yourself. You can't live as a truly intelligent human being unless you're willing to embrace truth, love, and power.
Intelligence is our highest expression of personal growth. The purest aim of all growth efforts is to live as intelligently as we can. We aren't talking about IQ here. We're talking about aligning ourselves with the true nature of reality instead of railing against it. This requires that we continually strive to become more truthful, more loving, and more powerful -- both as individuals and collectively. Anything that turns us away from truth, love, and power also makes us less intelligent.
I realize these principles must sound very abstract, but in practice they're extremely practical and grounded once you learn how they work.
Any solid personal development book will give you advice for bringing your life into better alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Unfortunately the vast majority of books do this in a very partial, fragmented way. For example, suppose you read a book about wealth strategies. Such books will usually try to teach you how to make more money by increasing your financial authority. You'll be taught some financial rules (truth), and you'll be encouraged to take specific actions (power). But it's rare that you'll encounter money-oriented books that successfully incorporate the principles of love and oneness. What you often get is a cold, largely heartless approach to making money centered on greed and pushing yourself to succeed. If you're a fairly conscious person, such strategies will only make you nauseous, and you'll fail to achieve the level of financial abundance such books promise. It's time to set aside these partial solutions. It's time for us to transition to a holistic approach to personal growth that satisfies our heads, hearts, and spirits. No more compromises.
Here's the Table of Contents for the book:
Part I: Fundamental Principles
Chapter 1: Truth
Chapter 2: Love
Chapter 3: Power
Chapter 4: Oneness
Chapter 5: Authority
Chapter 6: Courage
Chapter 7: Intelligence
Part II: Practical Application
Chapter 8: Habits
Chapter 9: Career
Chapter 10: Money
Chapter 11: Health
Chapter 12: Relationships
Chapter 13: Spirituality
About the Author
As you can see, the book is organized into two parts, which you can think of as theory and application.
Part I explains the seven core principles, one chapter per principle. This part of the book is intended to give you a new "big picture" model for understanding what it means to grow as a conscious human being. This is a holistic model, not a fragmented approach. Although the high-level concepts may seem a little abstract at first, there are plenty of stories, real-world examples, and exercises to teach you how these principles work on a practical level. I think you'll find this material fairly easy to understand.
Part II is all about the practical application. After you learn how the principles work, you'll receive an abundance of instruction on how to apply each of the seven principles to improve your results in six major areas of your life: habits, career, money, health, relationships, and spirituality. By the time you've finished the book, you should have such a clear understanding of the principles that you'll be able to apply them to any problem or situation you face in life.
The seven principles function as a universal growth compass. You can use them to diagnose any problem or challenge you face, and they'll always point you in the direction of positive growth and change. Because the principles are universal, it doesn't matter if you're dealing with a health problem, financial problem, relationship problem, spiritual problem, or just general laziness or confusion about what to do with your life. These principles will help you gain a level of clarity you've probably never experienced before.
The great thing about universal principles is that once you understand how they work, you can apply them to solve an endless variety of specific, real-world problems. Consider that after we figured out the fundamental laws of mathematics and physics, we became empowered to solve a wide variety of practical problems. If we didn't discover those principles first, it would have been impossible for us to create rich structures such as the Internet.
While physical laws empower us within the physical universe, the laws of conscious growth empower us within the conscious universe. These laws are so universal that if your consciousness survives your physical death, you could continue to use these principles to further your conscious growth in the afterlife. The principles are independent of physicality, even though they can be applied with great effect in the physical universe. I like to think of them as the underlying geometry of consciousness itself.
If you're dealing with a major problem in your life right now, I guarantee that your specific problem can be redefined as a problem of alignment with one or more of the three primary principles. Either you're having a problem with truth, allowing too much falsehood and denial to creep into your life. Or you're having a problem with love, failing to reach out and connect with the people, ideas, and activities that are most compatible with you. Or you're having a problem with power, wallowing in weakness and/or cowardice instead of feeling strong and taking consistent action. In many cases you'll have issues with all three areas.
I know this book will have an impact on you because these ideas have had such a huge impact on me.
The results have been amazing. I've experienced major breakthroughs in every area of my life -- my health, my relationship, my career path, and more.
Whenever I'm facing a problem or challenge now, I immediately turn to these principles. They allow me to generalize the specific problem I'm having, reinterpreting it as a problem of alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Once I redefine the problem in these simple terms, I can apply the known solutions to solve the problem in a general way. Then I can use that general solution to devise a specific solution to the real-world problem. The process is similar to how you might define a physical world problem as a math problem. Once you solve the math problem on paper, you essentially have a solution to the real-world equivalent. Since we're dealing with problems of consciousness instead of physical objects, the solutions aren't as crisp and precise as mathematical formulas, but I think they're as close as we can reasonably get. Perhaps the most important benefit is that we gain a clear sense of where the solution lies, so we don't have to waste so much time and energy making futile growth attempts that can't possibly work.
Most likely you'll find that your current alignment with these principles is unbalanced. This book will help you see those imbalances -- and show you what you need to do to restore balance.
If you're in a relationship right now, I think you'll really enjoy Chapter 12 of the book, which explains how truth, love, and power dynamics play out in our relationships. That chapter alone could save you years of frustration by helping you avoid incompatible relationships. You'll discover what you should look for in a compatible partner who can help you grow. It's not what you'd expect.
As you continue to increase your alignment with truth, love, and power, you'll find that your life keeps getting better and better. You'll solve problems more easily, enjoy a flow of abundance, and have the strength and energy to tackle meaningful goals. But when you fall out of alignment with any of these principles, you'll find your situation stagnating or declining; however, the bright side is that you can diagnose where you went wrong and clearly see how to get back on track.
Very interestingly, aligning ourselves with truth, love, and power also points us in the direction of service to others. The principle of oneness (truth + love) tells us that we're all inherently connected. We can't isolate ourselves from other people or from the problems of the world. When we step out of our cocoons and grasp the truth that we're all one, we can achieve an incredible synergy between helping ourselves and serving others at the same time.