• Mental models are frameworks for understanding, explaining, and predicting the world.
  • They are useful for decision-making and problem-solving.

Key Influences and Sources

  • Shane Parrish: Author of “Clear Thinking” and “Mental Models.”
  • Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger: Investors known for using mental models.
  • Chris Williamson and George Mack: Discuss mental models on the “Modern Wisdom” podcast.
  • Naval Ravikant: Author of “The Almanac of Naval Ravikant.”
  • Annie Duke: Former poker player and author of “Thinking in Bets.”
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Author of “The Black Swan” and “Antifragile.”
  • Others: Alex Hormozi, Rob Henderson, Dr. Richard Bandler.

25 Mental Models

  1. Affective Realism
    • Our emotions influence how we perceive reality.
    • Example: Feeling “hangry” changes our interpretation of events.
  2. The Law of Contrast
    • We evaluate things by comparing them to others.
    • Example: A 50% raise feels less impressive if others get 75%.
  3. Doublethink
    • Holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously.
    • Useful for seeing multiple perspectives.
  4. Signal vs. Noise
    • Distinguishing useful information (signal) from background chatter (noise).
    • Example: Identifying valuable insights in a book full of filler.
  5. Rational Optimism
    • Being optimistic based on evidence and data.
    • Example: Recognizing global improvements despite negative news.
  6. First Principles Thinking
    • Breaking down problems to their fundamental components.
    • Example: Elon Musk’s approach to reducing battery costs for electric cars.
  7. The Law of Causes and Effects
    • Multiple factors contribute to any outcome.
    • Example: Various causes of World War I.
  8. Leverage
    • Using skills or resources to maximize impact.
    • Example: Coding and content creation.
  9. Antifragility
    • Benefiting from stress and adversity.
    • Example: Muscles growing stronger after being broken down.
  10. Zero-Based Thinking
    • Starting from scratch to rethink problems.
    • Example: Rethinking business strategies from a beginner’s perspective.
  11. Forcing Functions
    • Creating conditions that force desired behaviors.
    • Example: Automatically saving a portion of income for taxes.
  12. The Law of Motivational Beliefs
    • People believe what they want to believe.
    • Example: Changing minds by appealing to desires.
  13. Blue Ocean Thinking
    • Finding uncontested market spaces.
    • Example: Cirque du Soleil combining circus and musical elements.
  14. Reflexivity
    • Actions influence the environment, which in turn influences actions.
    • Example: Emotional states affecting decision-making.
  15. Inversion
    • Considering the opposite of what you want to achieve.
    • Example: To be happy, think about what causes sadness and avoid it.
  16. Agency Math
    • Calculating what you can control, influence, or can’t control.
    • Example: Focusing on controllable aspects to reduce stress.
  17. Ockham’s Razor
    • The simplest solution is often the correct one.
    • Example: Simplifying complex problems to find solutions.
  18. Gawdat’s Formula for Happiness
    • Happiness equals perception minus expectations.
    • Example: Managing expectations to increase happiness.
  19. The Law of Reverse Effort
    • Trying too hard can make things worse.
    • Example: The harder you try to sleep, the harder it becomes.
  20. Meaningful Metrics
    • Using the right metrics to measure success.
    • Example: Focusing on health metrics rather than social media likes.
  21. Grit vs. Quit
    • Knowing when to persevere and when to walk away.
    • Example: Balancing passion and perseverance with practical decisions.
  22. Narcissism Razor
    • People are more focused on themselves than on you.
    • Example: Realizing others are not constantly judging you.
  23. Friction Reduction
    • Making desired behaviors easier and undesired behaviors harder.
    • Example: Making healthy food more accessible than junk food.
  24. Emotional Blindness Triggers
    • When we feel strongly about something, we can become blinded and irrational.
    • Example: A hot topic that you have a strong take on and refuse to listen to a different perspective.
  25. The Notion of Compounding
    • When you make small, consistent improvements, over time, they add up to something significantly better.
    • Example: Lift an extra couple of lbs every workout, and you’ll be lifting much bigger weights by the end of the year.


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