Search Inside Yourself


Meng is an early Google-er and is known as the jolly good fellow. His ultimate goal is world peace by making the habits necessary for it accessible. Self-awareness at the center of it all

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways
  1. Knowing yourself lies at the core of emotional intelligence, and that the best mental app for this can be found in the mind-training method called mindfulness. 
  2. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) classes at Google that Meng instituted there and that have been ongoing now for years.
  3. Along with it and much more importantly, a taste for what it is pointing to, a taste of your own deep interior resources for acting in your own best interest by realizing that your interest is best served by recognizing and nurturing the interests of others at the same time. This is what mindfulness-based emotional intelligence is all about. This is why it is so important, in so many ways, to literally and metaphorically search inside yourself. What is here to be discovered, or uncovered, is the full spectrum of who you already are as a person and the realization of how embedded you are in the multidimensional warp and woof of humanity and all life. And because mindfulness is not about getting someplace else—but rather about being fully where you already are and realizing the power of your full presence and awareness right now, in this moment—Meng’s program is really about finding rather than searching. It is about dis-covering, re-covering, and un-covering that full dimensionality of your being that is already yours and then developing and refining it through systematic cultivation and practice. From there, in combination with what you most love and with your imagination and innate creativity, it is bound to manifest in the world in any number of hopefully skillful ways, in the service of our mutual well-being and happiness.  
  4. The Search Inside Yourself curriculum rests on an ocean of meditative wisdom practices that cultivate mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, embodied presence, emotional intelligence, and many other fundamental aspects of our minds and hearts and bodies that are also available to you once you enter through this portal.  
  5. Once one has tasted the practice for oneself, the motivation is very likely to be there to extend the time of formal practice, not to achieve a special state, but to simply rest in awareness itself, outside of time altogether. This is the practice of non-doing, of openhearted presencing, of pure awareness, coextensive with and inseparable from compassion. It is not an escape from life. On the contrary, the practice of mindfulness is a gateway into the experience of interconnectedness and interdependence out of which stem emotionally intelligent actions, new ways of being, and ultimately greater happiness, clarity, wisdom, and kindness—at work and in the world.  
  6. Matthieu Ricard - became the first person known to science able to inhibit the body’s natural startle reflex—quick facial muscle spasms in response to loud, sudden noises.  
  7. Matthieu also turns out to be an expert at detecting fleeting facial expression of emotions known as microexpressions. It is possible to train people to detect and read microexpressions, but Matthieu and one other meditator, both untrained, were measured in the lab and performed two standard deviations better than the norm, outperforming all the trained professionals.  
    1. Te methods for developing such an extraordinarily capable mind are accessible even to you and me. That’s what this book is about.
  8. He learned to listen a lot better, gain control over his temper, and understand every situation better by, in his words, “learning to discern stories from reality.”  
  9. “I have completely changed in the way I react to stressors. I take the time to think through things and empathize with other people’s situations before jumping to conclusions.  
  10. You will learn how to calm your mind on demand. Your concentration and creativity will improve. You will perceive your mental and emotional processes with increasing clarity. You will discover that self-confidence is something that can arise naturally in a trained mind. You will learn to uncover your ideal future and develop the optimism and resilience necessary to thrive. You will find that you can deliberately improve empathy with practice. You will learn that social skills are highly trainable and that you can help others love you.  
  11. Search Inside Yourself works in three steps:         
    1. Attention training
    2. Self-knowledge and self-mastery         
    3. Creating useful mental habits  
  12. The idea is to train attention to create a quality of mind that is calm and clear at the same time. That quality of mind forms the foundation for emotional intelligence.  
  13. Use your trained attention to create high-resolution perception into your own cognitive and emotive processes. With that, you become able to observe your thought stream and the process of emotion with high clarity, and to do so objectively from a third-person perspective. Once you can do that, you create the type of deep self-knowledge that eventually enables self-mastery.  
  14. Imagine whenever you meet anybody, your habitual, instinctive first thought is, I wish for this person to be happy.  
  15. emotional intelligence is one of the best predictors of success at work and fulfillment in life, and it is trainable for everyone.  
  16. They define emotional intelligence as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.  
  17. Goleman adds a very useful structure to emotional intelligence by classifying it into five domains.
    1. Self-awareness: Knowledge of one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions
    2.  Self-regulation: Management of one’s internal states, impulses, and resources
    3.  Motivation: Emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals
    4.  Empathy: Awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns        
    5. Social skills: Adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others  
  18. In the context of the work environment, emotional intelligence enables three important skill sets: stellar work performance, outstanding leadership, and the ability to create the conditions for happiness.  
  19. The top six competencies that distinguish star performers from average performers in the tech sector are (in this order):         
    1. Strong achievement drive and high achievement standards     
    2. Ability to influence         
    3. Conceptual thinking         
    4. Analytical ability         
    5. Initiative in taking on challenges          
    6. Self-confidence
  20. Ricard defines happiness as “a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind . . . not a mere pleasurable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood, but an optimal state of being.”  
  21. The skills that help us cultivate emotional intelligence also help us identify and develop the inner factors that contribute to our deep sense of well-being.  
  22. The aim of developing emotional intelligence is to help you optimize yourself and function at an even higher level than what you are already capable of
  23. Emotional skillfulness frees us from emotional compulsion.  
  24. The greater the neural activity in the parts of their brains associated with their pain, the greater the fire became. By using that visual display, he could get people to learn to up- or down-regulate that brain activity and, with that ability, participants reported a corresponding decrease in their levels of pain. He calls this “neuroimaging therapy.”  
  25. Self-awareness depends on being able to see ourselves objectively, and that requires the ability to examine our thoughts and emotions from a third-person perspective, not getting swept up in the emotion, not identifying with it, but just seeing it clearly and objectively.  
  26. “response flexibility,” which is a fancy name for the ability to pause before you act.  
  27. Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”  
  28. There is a simple technique for self-regulation called “affect labeling,” which simply means labeling feelings with words. When you label an emotion you are experiencing (for example, “I feel anger”), it somehow helps you manage that emotion.  
  29. There are two very good reasons to work with our bodies: vividness and resolution.  
  30. Every emotion has a correlate in the body
  31. a useful reason to develop a high-resolution perception of the body is to strengthen our intuition. A lot of our intuition comes from our body, and learning to listen to it can be very fruitful.  
  32. Most evenings, before we sleep, my young daughter and I sit in mindfulness together for two minutes. I like to joke that two minutes is optimal for us because that is the attention span of a child and of an engineer. For two minutes a day, we quietly enjoy being alive and being together. More fundamentally, for two minutes a day, we enjoy being. Just being.  
  33. I think mindfulness is the mind of just being. All you really need to do is to pay attention moment-to-moment without judging. It is that simple.  
  34. The creatively named Easy Way is to simply bring gentle and consistent attention to your breath for two minutes. That’s it.  
  35. Mindfulness trains two important faculties, attention and meta-attention.  
    1. Meta-attention is attention of attention, the ability to pay attention to attention itself. Huh? Simply put, meta-attention is the ability to know that your attention has wandered away.  Meta-attention is also the secret to concentration.  
  36. beginning stage, is it gets you to a state where your mind is relaxed and alert at the same time. When your attention and meta-attention both become strong, something interesting happens. Your mind becomes increasingly focused and stable, but in a way that is relaxing.
  37. You get where you need to be, and you actually enjoy the experience of getting there because it is relaxing.  
  38. When the mind becomes highly relaxed and alert at the same time, three wonderful qualities of mind naturally emerge: calmness, clarity, and happiness.  
  39. relaxed concentration (a practice known as shamatha).  Happiness is the default state of mind. So when the mind becomes calm and clear, it returns to its default, and that default is happiness. That is it. There is no magic; we are simply returning the mind to its natural 
  40. happiness is not something that you pursue; it is something you allow. Happiness is just being. That insight changed my 
  41. The process starts with an intention. Start by creating an intention, a reason for wanting to abide in mindfulness.  
  42. Every time you create an intention, you are subtly forming or reinforcing a mental habit.  
  43. become aware of your attitude toward yourself. See how you treat yourself and how often you engage in nasty gossip about yourself.  
  44. Traditional Buddhism, for example, defines four main meditation postures: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down, which seems to cover just about everything.  
  45. The best meditation posture is one that helps you remain alert and relaxed at the same time for a long period of time.  
  46. This traditional posture is sometimes called the seven-point meditation posture. In brief, the seven are: 
    1. Back straight “like an arrow”          
    2. Legs crossed in “lotus position”         
    3. Shoulders relaxed, held up and back, “like a vulture”         
    4. Chin tucked in slightly, “like an iron hook”         
    5. Eyes closed or gazing into space         
    6. Tongue held against the upper palate         
    7. Lips slightly apart, teeth not clenched  
  47. The more we are able to create space between stimulus and reaction, the more control we will have over our emotional lives.  
  48. attention is not the end goal of most meditation traditions; the true end goal is insight. The reason we create a powerful quality of attention is to be able to develop insights into the mind.  
  49. The theory is that with mindfulness meditation training, one’s brain can learn to process stimuli more efficiently,  
  50. The mind of calmness and clarity you experience while sitting in mindfulness meditation is very nice, but it only becomes life changing when you can bring up that mind on demand, in day-to-day life.  
  51. you can think of it as extending, or generalizing, mindfulness along two dimensions: one from rest to activity and the other from self to others.  
  52. All is a miracle.  
  53. pleasant experiences become even more pleasant because our attention is there to fully experience them.  
  54. the object of meditation is the task at hand rather than the breath.  
  55. A beautiful way to practice mindfulness, which is almost guaranteed to improve your social life, is to apply mindfulness toward others for the benefit of others. The idea is very simple—give your full moment-to-moment attention to another person with a nonjudgmental mind, and every time your attention wanders away, just gently bring it back.  
  56. “Listening is magic: it turns a person from an object outside, opaque or dimly threatening, into an intimate experience, and therefore into a friend. In this way, listening softens and transforms the listener.”  
  57. Our attention is the most valuable gift we can give to others.  
  58. There are three key components to mindful conversation. The first and most obvious one is mindful listening, which we have already practiced. The second is something Gary called “looping,” short for “closing the loop of communication.” Looping is simple. Let’s say there are two people involved in this conversation—Allen and Becky—and it is Allen’s turn to speak. Allen speaks for a while, and after he is done speaking, Becky (the listener) loops back by saying what she thought she heard Allen say. After that, Allen gives feedback on what he thought was missing or misrepresented in Becky’s characterization of his original monologue. And they go back and forth until Allen (the original speaker) feels satisfied that he is correctly understood by Becky (the original listener). Looping is a collaborative project in which both people work together to help Becky (the listener) fully understand Allen (the speaker). The third key component to mindful conversation is something Gary called “dipping,” or checking in with ourselves. The main reason we do not listen to others is that we get distracted by our own feelings and internal chatter,  
  59. Do not sit for so long that it becomes burdensome. Sit often, for short periods, and your mindfulness practice may soon feel like an indulgence.  
  60. Having a relaxed mind is very useful in meditation. Relaxation is the foundation of deep concentration.  
  61. Open attention is a quality of attention willing to meet any object that arrives at the mind or the senses. It is open, flexible, and inviting.  
  62. You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.  
  63. Deepening self-awareness is about developing clarity within oneself.  
  64. There are two specific qualities we like to develop—resolution and vividness
  65. Firstly, we can increase the resolution (or precision) at which we perceive our emotions, so we can see emotions the moments they arise and cease, and subtle changes in between. Secondly, we increase their brightness and contrast so we can see them more vividly than before. This combination will give us very useful high-fidelity information about our emotional life.  
  66. self-awareness goes beyond insight into one’s moment-to-moment emotional experience; it expands into a broader domain of “self,” such as understanding our own strengths and weaknesses and being able to access our own inner wisdom.  
  67. Self-awareness is the key domain of emotional intelligence that enables all the others.  
  68. There are three emotional competencies under the domain of self-awareness:  
    1. Emotional awareness: Recognizing one’s emotions and their effects     
    2. Accurate self-assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits         
    3. Self-confidence: A strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities  
  69. Self-confidence isn’t egotism. . . . When you are truly self-confident, you are flexible with regard to ego: you can pick up ego when necessary, but you can also put it down when necessary in order to learn something completely new through listening. And if you find that you can’t put ego down, at least you know that this is so. You can admit it to yourself. It takes profound self-confidence to be humble enough to recognize your own limitations without self-blame.
  70. I am able to project that confidence not because I make the effort to look confident, but because I have a sense of humor about my ego, or my own sense of self-importance.  
  71. In my experience, however, the only highly sustainable source of self-confidence comes from deep self-knowledge and blatant self-honesty.  
  72. The type of deep self-knowledge and blatant self-honesty needed for sustainable self-confidence means having nothing to hide from oneself. It comes from accurate self-assessment. If we can assess ourselves accurately, we can clearly and objectively see our greatest strengths and our biggest weaknesses. We become honest to ourselves about our most sacred aspirations and darkest desires. We learn about our deepest priorities in life, what is important to us, and what is not important that we can let go.  
  73. The first one, Body Scan, functions at the level of physiology and works best for developing emotional awareness. The second, Journaling, functions at the level of meaning and works best for developing accurate self-assessment.  
  74. The practice itself is very simple: we just systematically bring moment-to-moment non-judging attention to different parts of our bodies, starting from the top of our head and moving down to the tips of our toes (or vice versa), noticing all sensation or lack of sensation.  
  75. The exercise itself is very simple. You give yourself a certain amount of time, say, three minutes, and you are given (or you give yourself) a prompt, which for our purposes is an open-ended sentence such as “What I am feeling now is . . .” For those three minutes, write down whatever comes to mind. You may write about the prompt, or you may write about anything else that comes to mind. Try not to think about what you’re going to write—just write.  
  76. As we deepen our self-awareness, we eventually arrive at a very important key insight: we are not our emotions.  
  77. emotions are simply what you feel, not who you are.  
  78. may begin to see emotions simply as physiological phenomena. Emotions become what we experience in the body, so we go from “I am angry” to “I experience anger in my body.”  
  79. Self-regulation goes far beyond self-control. Daniel Goleman identifies five emotional competencies under the domain of self-regulation:     
    1. Self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check  
    2. Trustworthiness: Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity   
    3. Conscientiousness: Taking responsibility for personal performance     
    4. Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change       
    5. Innovation: Being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches, and information  
  80. There is one commonality that underlies all these competences: choice.  
  81. Self-regulation is not about never having certain emotions. It is about becoming very skillful with them.  
  82. while we cannot stop an unwholesome thought or emotion from arising, we have the power to let it go, and the highly trained mind can let it go the moment it arises.  
  83. “The Great Way is without difficulty, just cease having preferences.”2 When the mind becomes so free that it is capable of letting go even of preferences, the Great Way is no longer difficult.  
  84. The key is to let go of two things: grasping and aversion. Grasping is when the mind desperately holds on to something and refuses to let it go. Aversion is when the mind desperately keeps something away and refuses to let it come.  
  85. The first important opportunity is the possibility of experiencing pain without suffering.  
  86. If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.  
  87. The second important opportunity is the possibility of experiencing pleasure without the aftertaste of unsatisfactoriness.  
  88. Four very helpful general principles for dealing with any distressing emotions are:  
    1. Know when you are not in pain.       
    2. Do not feel bad about feeling bad.  
    3. Do not feed the monsters.          
    4. Start every thought with kindness and humor.
  89. Mindfulness helps our thinking brain and our emotional brain communicate more clearly to each other, so they work better together.  
  90. You can think of mindfulness as increasing the power output of the regulation systems in the brain so it works even better.  
  91. The practice has five steps:          1.  Stop          2.  Breathe          3.  Notice          4.  Reflect          5.  Respond  
  92. Do not react for just one moment. This moment is known as the sacred pause.  
  93. perhaps this is an opportunity for self-discovery. For example, if you already have a mature meditation practice and something your boss says suddenly makes you feel very vulnerable (“like I’m five years old again”), you have just received valuable education on which aspects of your meditation practice you need to focus.  
  94. The final piece of the framework is creating a willingness to experience and accept the emotions—in a way, opening up the heart and mind so they become big enough to effortlessly contain any emotion, like the sky effortlessly containing any cloud.  
  95. You are the world’s top expert at figuring out what motivates you. You already know your deepest values and motivations.  
  96. three types of happiness: pleasure, passion, and higher purpose.
  97. We should be spending most of our time and energy working on higher purpose, sometimes enjoying flow, and every now and then, savoring rock-star pleasure.  
  98. If we know what we value most and what is most meaningful to us, then we know what we can work on that serves our higher purpose.  
  99. In this chapter, we will introduce three practices for motivation:         
    1. Alignment: Aligning our work with our values and higher purpose  
    2. Envisioning: Seeing the desired future for ourselves      
    3. Resilience: The ability to overcome obstacles in our path  
  100. Work of this nature has at least one of these two qualities, very often both:    
    1. The work is deeply meaningful to you     
    2. It generates a state of flow in you  
  101. The three elements of true motivation are:     
    1. Autonomy: The urge to direct our own lives  
    2. Mastery: The desire to get better and better at something that matters      
    3. Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves  
  102. Traditional monetary incentives work well for routine, rule-based work: jobs that do not require a lot of creativity. For the type of work that requires creativity or other cognitive skills, monetary incentives do not work well; they can even be counterproductive.  
  103. Michael Jordan says, “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”  
  104. The basic idea is to envision, discover, and consolidate our ideal future in the mind by writing about it as if it were already true.  
  105. When I first started talking to others about my aspirations for world peace, I was pleasantly surprised how few people thought I was crazy (only two, so far). As it became more real to me, I began speaking about it with increasing confidence and, after a while, I noticed that people wanted to help me or introduce other people to me who could help me.  
  106. Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates, innovating involves being “confused, upset, think[ing] you’re stupid.”  
  107. friendships with “admirable people” are not half of holy life, but the whole of holy life.  
  108. Some scientists suggest that mirror neurons form the neural basis of empathy and social cognition.  
  109. empathy works by having you physiologically mimic the other person.  
  110. in many situations, the best way to make tough decisions is with kindness and empathy.  
  111. kindness is a sustainable source of happiness—
  112. Empathy helps us build trust. When we interact with empathy, we increase the likelihood that people feel seen, heard, and understood. When people feel those things, they feel safer and more likely to trust the person who understands them.  
  113. Trust is the foundation of a coaching/mentoring relationship. It is very simple: for you to work with your mentee, he must be open to you. The more he opens himself up, the more effectively you can work with him, and the more he trusts you, the more likely he is to be open. It is that simple. If there is no trust, this mentoring relationship will just be a waste of time  
  114. Practice giving people the benefit of the doubt:  
  115. Remember that trust begets trust:  
  116. it’s better to praise people for working hard than for being smart.  
  117. If you understand people and you understand the interactions between them, you will understand the whole organization. That is organizational awareness.  
  118. Maintain rich personal networks within your organization, especially with allies, mentors, and groups who will support and challenge you.  
  119. Practice reading the underlying currents of your organization. Understand how decisions are made. Are decisions made by authority or consensus? Who are most influential in making them?  
  120. Distinguish between your own self-interest, the interest of your team, and the organization’s interest—everyone  
  121. Utilize your self-awareness to better understand your role in the web of personalities and interactions. Make frequent use of empathic listening to understand how people feel about situations and about each other.  
  122. Another mental habit is being open to understanding how other people can seem reasonable, at least from their own points of view, even when you disagree with them. Having this mental habit enables you to view social interactions with more clarity and objectivity.  
  123. being liked may be the most effective way to get things done in the long term.  
  124. compassion is the happiest state ever  
  125. “Open awareness,” a state in which the mind is extremely open, calm, and clear.  2961     
  126. Compassion is a mental state endowed with a sense of concern for the suffering of others and aspiration to see that suffering relieved. Specifically, he defines compassion as having three components:    
    1. A cognitive component: “I understand you”      
    2. An affective component: “I feel for you”    
    3. A motivational component: “I want to help you”  
  127. in addition to being highly capable, also possess a paradoxical mix of two important and seemingly conflicting qualities: great ambition and personal humility. These leaders are highly ambitious, but the focus of their ambition is not themselves; instead, they are ambitious for the greater good. Because their attention is focused on the greater good, they feel no need to inflate their own egos. That makes them highly effective and inspiring.  
  128. 1.  Seeing goodness in self and others          2.  Giving goodness to all          3.  Confidence in the transformative power of self (that I can multiply goodness)  
  129. SCARF model, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.  
  130. When you gain increasing mastery over something that matters to you, you activate a status reward, at least when compared against your former self.  
  131. never underestimate a person’s sense of fairness;  
  132. there are five steps to conducting a difficult conversation. Here is my brief of those steps:    
    1. Prepare by walking through the “three conversations.”  
    2. Decide whether to raise the issue.  
    3. Start from the objective “third story.”    
    4. Explore their story and yours.      
    5. Problem solve.
  133. In every conversation, there are actually three conversations going on. They are the content conversation (“What happened?”), the feelings conversation (“What emotions are involved?”), and the identity conversation (“What does this say about me?”).  
  134. impact is not the intention.  
  135. beyond the content and emotions in every difficult conversation, there are, more importantly, issues of identity.  
  136. When the brain receives insufficient data about others’ feelings, it just makes stuff up.  
  137. because e-mails seldom contain sufficient information for the brain to recognize the emotional context of the sender, the brain fabricates the missing information, often with a negative bias, and then unconsciously assumes its own fabrication to be the truth
  138. The Dalai Lama, for example, despite his busy schedule, said, “I don’t do anything.
What I got out of it
  1. Really good read on happiness, emotional intelligence and being successful by meshing the two

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