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Founder, KorteX
3.5M followers top writer






"If you want practical strategies to maximize your own well-being, then create a profitable internet business around your passions, interests and curiosities – Goldfield is your guy."


as a kid i struggled to fit in. at the time this meant tears, confusion and self-doubt. but in the end it turned out to be my secret weapon.

first, i was a ballroom dancer who was obsessed with video games. then i took up drums and got into progressive rock.

i was uncompromising in my preferences, but still i tried hopelessly to fit in. if i’d had my way the other kids would’ve been into what i was into—and that’s what would’ve been cool.

but it wasn’t.

it really wasn’t.

no matter what i tried, i found i couldn’t twist myself into the ways of thinking the people around me had.

i didn’t want to be an outsider. but looking back i can see that deep down i wanted to be an insider even less.

my parents divorced when i was 7. other family members were dealing with enormous stress. some were in debt.

my schoolteachers were driving to work in beat up cars and losing their temper on a daily basis. still, they were weirdly comfortable telling me how i should live my life…

i couldn’t survive without somewhat conforming to their ideas. but i always knew something was wrong with them.

still, it took me almost 30 years to delete the mind viruses they installed in me.

hopefully you’re reading this earlier in your life. if not, don’t worry: it’s not too late to reformat your mental hard drive. and i’m going to tell you exactly how.

6 mind viruses that’ll keep you poor, sick and miserable

this is how society has developed, generation to generation: each being clueless about how to be happy and fulfilled, but demanding the next lot listen to them.

that’s how these “mind viruses” developed and went mostly unnoticed. until now…

mind virus #1: obligation.exe

since the industrial revolution the developed world has run on “shoulds”, “oughts” and “musts”.

these were forced on you since before you were making memories and then got exponentially worse:

🔹”you should eat all your dinner”
🔹”you ought to pay attention”
🔹”you must do unpaid overtime here and there”

the issue isn’t whether these commands are useful or not. it’s that they’re given without their reasoning being examined or explained.

this creates resentment, turns you into a mindless sheep, or worse.

Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health–related visits for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased approximately 24%. and 31%, respectively. ​¹​

in a world of infinite possibilities, kids are still being told to tidy up before they can even make a real mess. and we all carry this with us into adulthood.

mind virus #2: validation_seeking.exe

if you don’t obey those “shoulds”, “oughts” and “musts” you’re told that you’re bad.

not that you did a bad thing.

you’re told that you yourself are bad.

🔹you’re bad for not eating enough
🔹you’re bad for eating too much
🔹you’re bad for being quiet
🔹you’re bad for being loud

i know i’m painting a harsh picture. hopefully your parents had some sense of healthy boundaries for you.

but of course the onslaught continued in school:

🔹you’re bad for not knowing the answers
🔹you’re bad for being a know-it-all
🔹you’re bad for finishing your work early
🔹you’re bad for finishing your work late

then at work:

🔹you’re bad for asking for guidance
🔹you’re bad for doing it your own way
🔹you’re bad for being too friendly
🔹you’re bad for not contributing to “the culture”

from the beginning you were trained to look to others for approval in a world where they were too busy to give you a pat on the back.

mind virus #3: perfectionism.exe

…so you did the only thing that made sense: you set your internal standards beyond reach.

i sometimes wonder what the world would be like if instead of having police we had polites.

🔹the police fine you for speeding but the polites would give you money for driving safely
🔹the police fine you for littering but the polites would give you money for using public waste bins
🔹the police fine you for committing fraud but the polites would give you money for being honest

at first i wondered where the money would come from. but a world where everyone was positively reinforced instead of being punished all the time would be a damn utopia. (and utopias have strong economies.)

sadly, this is not the world we live in. so most people, to one degree or another, hold themselves to impossible standards—usually out of fear; often hoping to one day get that rare pat on the back.

mind virus #4: fomo.exe

there’s another driving force for your perfectionism: you’ve been aggressively marketed at since the first time you were sat in front of a TV.

Young people view more than 40 000 ads per year on television alone and increasingly are being exposed to advertising on the Internet, in magazines, and in schools.​²​

if you’ve not seen an ad for children’s toys in a while, go check out a few on youtube. that sh!t is predatory. and you, as an infant target, had no defence against the psychology being used. you were just sat in your nappy (diaper), sucking your thumb and being lullabied into desperate longing for a Pikachu plushie.

fomo—fear of missing out—has been a fixture of your emotional landscape ever since.

mind virus #5: gratification.exe

of course, your parents couldn’t hold out against your begging forever. eventually you got your Pikachu. great, right? sure… until you lost it. then you screamed so hard for so long your father considered drop kicking you into the neighbour’s garden.

getting things you want isn’t a problem. but depending on them to feel good is.

first it was your Pikachu plushie.

then it was your X-BOX.

then it was your first car.

then it was your promotion.

each of these was more gratifying, and so this mind virus made you feel bad in 3 distinct cases:

  1. before you had what you wanted
  2. when you had what you wanted but feared losing it
  3. when what you wanted had gone

so what do you do when you can’t get what you want? you go get something else. and so the gratification merry-go-round spins…

mind virus #6: fix_it_later.exe

eventually gratification strikes with its concealed blade. then every Peroni you drank, every cherry bakewell you ate, every time you skipped the gym to watch The Mandalorian catches up with you.

the doctor hands you a prescription for blood pressure medication.

now you’re using chemicals your body struggles to process to deal with the effects of consuming things your body struggles to process.

how the f¥ck did you get here?

it wasn’t even your fault.

In the United States, only about 3% of medical expenditures go towards prevention…³​

i suspect you can see how these 6 mind viruses came together to create a quiet hell that no-one even notices (because they’re all burning in it too).

as i grew up i discovered i wasn’t just different in what i liked. i was different in my way of thinking and seeing the world. this explained a lot regarding my struggles with the school system ​(which i wrote about last week).​

i knew in my gut that the typical way of seeing and doing things was wrong. eventually my curiosity took me through a formal study of educational theory and, later, to deep understanding of the workings of the human mind.

i re-examined everything i’d ever been told.

let’s start debugging

the buddha has a list of 10 things that have to be dissolved on the path to wellbeing.

the first of those is “adherence to rites, rules and rituals”.

in other words, if you want to be happy and peaceful you need to uninstall your mind viruses. i’m going to tell you exactly how to do that, but first i’m going to weaken them a bit.

you don’t need validation because you’re already perfect

humans cling so tightly to ideas of good and bad; right and wrong. but here’s the thing: these are precisely ideas. and that’s all they are.

animals have no conception of good, bad, right or wrong.

for all your trying to be “good”, have you ever felt like you’ve arrived?

the goal posts keep moving because there is no objective standard. there’s no moment of arrival: “yes! i made it! i’m finally a good boy!”

you’ll be happier, healthier and wealthier if you let go of the ideas of good, bad, right and wrong.

the common objection i hear when i teach this is “but dan, if i let go of right and wrong won’t i just end up drinking vodka and watching porn all day every day?”

i struggled with that question for years.

but the more i relaxed my grip on right and wrong, the more wholesome i became.

less and less did i behave like a degenerate because less and less did i need unwholesome behaviours as coping mechanisms.

gradually i stopped bullying myself to try and reach the high standards i set with my mind viruses. this meant i was happier and so i didn’t need to drink vodka and watch porn. which, in turn, meant i had more energy to dedicate to wholesome activities… which, in turn, led to better health and wealth.

the grass is only greener when you think of the other side

i’m guessing you don’t spend a whole lot of time each day peering over your neighbour’s fence. you might spend a little more time lusting over their new Tesla. but the cool thing is when you’re not, you’re not.

another unhelpful thing humans are really good at is blowing things out of proportion.

in this case, if you spend 12 minutes per day thinking the grass is greener on the other side you’ll start identifying as an envious person. then you spot that behaviour more and more and it becomes a permanent part of your identity.

but in your actual direct experience you’re only spending 12 minutes out of every 1,440 thinking about your neighbour’s Tesla. in those moments there’s envy. in the other 1,428 minutes of the day, there’s not.

be real.

when you align with your core values you don’t need to cope

another potent solution to the vodka and porn issue is alignment.

when you know what you care about and you make your days about that you won’t be interested in much else.

it took me 35 years to figure this out. but these days i get up before 6, do creative work for 4 hours, develop new ways to help people, share my ideas, go to the gym, talk to my audience and other creators, have dinner with my wife, study, read, go to bed then get up and do it all again.

i want to do all this. i’m effectively retired because i’d be doing this same routine if i were a billionaire.

but it was only possible once i did what i’m going to share with you now…

how to delete your mind viruses in 12 weeks

the process of uninstalling your mind viruses may be challenging but the increased system capacity you’ll gain is priceless.

week 1: shut down unnecessary processes

the first thing you need to do is get quiet.

here's the ​guided meditation​ i give in the first week of my cohort course, ​MINDFUL 24/7.​

run it once per day for a week, then move on. (of course, if you have experience with meditation already feel free to skip ahead.)

week 2: scan for mind viruses

continue your daily meditation but now add one additional step: once you’re settled, look out for the 6 mind viruses:


but what will they look like during meditation? here are some examples:

🔹feeling you should end your meditation to text back your mother
🔹thinking this whole thing is weird because no-one you know does it
🔹wanting to see each mind virus with perfect clarity and free yourself from them immediately
🔹wondering what cool sh!t your friends are up to while you’re sat here working on yourself
🔹wanting to get up and do something more exciting
🔹telling yourself you’ll have a beer now and meditate later

of course you may spot some entirely different mind viruses. (i’d love to hear what you discover in a ​dm on X​.)

weeks 3-6: know your enemy

continue your daily practice from week 2. but now, once you finish, take out a journal and write on these prompts:

🔹what mind viruses did you encounter?
🔹if you submit to them, how will they affect your day?
🔹if you let them affect you every day, what will your life be like in 10 years?
🔹if you delete them, how will your life be different in 10 years?

weeks 7-8: scan in the wild

by now you should have enough familiarity with your mind viruses to spot them as you’re going about your day.

keep up your daily practice and journal as necessary, depending on what you observe during your practice. this will keep your process top-of-mind, which will increase the number of times you’ll remember to look out for mind viruses throughout your day.

if you struggle to remember, download the Insight Timer app and set the meditation bell to chime on the hour, every hour. this will act as your reminder to check if any mind viruses are present.

you can also look for evidence of mind viruses in other people. when you spot them you’ll be reminded of their power. but there’s another benefit: you’ll understand people much better.

week 9: identify your triggers

now that you’re able to detect your mind viruses in all situations you can start to look for their causes.

what happens right before a mind virus shows up?

perhaps your boss speaks to you like your parents used to.

perhaps you feel you should’ve ticked more off your to-do list.

perhaps someone cuts you off in traffic.

note these patterns whenever you detect them. get them down in your journal.

week 10-12: create space

now that you know your triggers you should begin to see them coming.

when you do, take a deep breath and remind yourself:

your mind viruses are just mental processes which you don’t have to run.

🔹you do not have to feel obliged
🔹you do not have to see external validation
🔹you do not have to be perfect
🔹you do not have to worry about missing out on something
🔹you do not have to reach for cheap gratification
🔹you do not have to wait till later to free yourself of this bullsh!t

take as many of those deep breaths as you need.

remember what you’ve read here.

remember what you’ve written in your journal.

seeing your mind viruses for what they are is how you’ve been preparing these past 9 weeks. when you refuse to run them, they’re gone.

be sure to celebrate any and all victories, no matter how small. the more enjoyable you make this process, the more likely you are to succeed.

be flexible. don’t feel you have to do this in 12 weeks (that would be a mind virus talking.)

however long it takes you, at some point you’ll look back and say “hey, i haven’t done the perfectionism thing in months!”

that’s when you’ll know you’re truly free of these outdated, harmful mental scripts.

if you need help deleting your mind viruses, i have space for 2 more MINDFUL 24/7 students in November. just reply to this email to talk about how i can help you.

with love from my sofa,

¹ ​Rebecca T. Leeb, PhD et al. 2020 - Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic​

² ​American Academy of Pediatrics 2006 - Children, Adolescents, and Advertising​

³ ​Louise B. Russell 2011 - Prevention vs. Cure: An Economist’s Perspective on the Right Balance

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