Self Help

The Gap and the Gain - Dr. Benjamin Hardy

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Matheus Puppe

· 29 min read

Here is a summary of the praise for The Gap and The Gain:

The book offers a powerful concept to achieve fulfillment while pursuing achievement. It provides tools to find happiness amidst the journey of accomplishing goals. The GAP and GAIN model is transformative for entrepreneurs, leaders, teams, and anyone seeking greater success and fulfillment.

The book challenges conventional thinking about achievement and shows how to balance success with happiness. It offers an instant solution for those feeling anxious, frustrated, or falling short of goals. The concepts help readers become more present, grateful, and happy.

The book provides a monumental mindshift on how to perceive achievements and happiness. It is essential reading for entrepreneurs, leaders, athletes, parents, and anyone in relationships or wanting resilience. The GAP and GAIN gives awareness about incorrectly measuring progress and teaches to properly measure it daily for confidence and freedom.

Overall, the praise emphasizes the book’s unique, highly practical concepts that lead to happiness and peak performance. It is called powerful, essential, and life-changing for anyone wanting fulfillment alongside achievement.

Here is a summary of the key points in the introduction:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s phrase “pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence framed happiness as something unattainable and always in the future. This has shaped American culture to view happiness as a never-ending chase.

  • Only 14% of Americans report being very happy, suggesting most are unhappy.

  • Chasing external happiness results from internal disconnect, trying to fill a “GAP” within.

  • Entrepreneur Dan Sullivan identified the GAP as a toxic mindset that prevents appreciating life and being happy. The GAP measures progress against an ideal standard, feeling short.

  • Sullivan proposed The GAIN as the alternative - measuring progress from your starting point and appreciating accomplishments.

  • High achievers like entrepreneurs are prone to the GAP, never satisfied with achievements. This links to higher rates of depression and substance abuse.

  • Getting out of the GAP and into the GAIN is key for high achievers to find sustainable happiness alongside external success.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • Thomas Jefferson pursued happiness his whole life, believing it was something to be found in the future. This “GAP thinking” - always looking to the future for happiness - is common but problematic.

  • An example is Edward, a wealthy businessman who was never satisfied despite having over $17 million in assets. His pessimistic GAP mindset led him to pull all his money out of the market at the worst time.

  • When you’re in the GAP, you measure yourself against an ideal future rather than appreciating your current gains. This makes you miserable and undermines growth.

  • Dan Sullivan coined the terms “GAP” and “GAIN” while coaching an unhappy entrepreneur named Bob. He realized Bob was focused on the gap between where he was and where he wanted to be, rather than the gains he’d made.

  • Being in the GAP means you lose appreciation for what you have. The GAIN mindset focuses on progress and appreciation, creating happiness in the present moment.

  • To get out of the GAP, stop racing toward an ideal and start appreciating your gains. This simple mindset shift transforms everything.

  • Ideals are like a moving horizon - no matter how much progress you make, fulfillment always seems just out of reach. This is called “hedonic adaptation.”

  • Hedonic adaptation causes people to constantly seek the next thing, never being satisfied. It leads to consumerism and trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”

  • Religion and society often promote ideals of perfection we can never reach, putting people in the GAP. Goals are reachable, ideals by definition are not.

  • Focus on what you’ve achieved and your progress (your GAINS), not how you measure up to an external ideal or standard. This is being in the GAIN.

  • Transform experiences, even failures and trauma, into GAINS by learning from them. Don’t compare yourself to others.

  • When you are in the GAIN, you become unstoppable, with measurable progress. You play your own game.

  • The GAP causes dysfunction and debilitation. The GAIN leads to growth, uniqueness, gratitude, and fulfillment.

  • Be in the GAIN about yourself and others. Happiness is your starting point, and goals expand happiness further.

  • Dan Jansen was considered one of the best speed skaters ever, but he struggled to win medals in big races. Before his final Olympic race, he shifted his mindset from focusing on the gap between his current results and his ideal of winning a medal (the GAP), to focusing instead on all the gains and blessings in his life and career (the GAIN).

  • This shift to gratitude and appreciation helped Jansen feel joyful and skate his best ever, breaking a world record and winning gold in his final Olympic event.

  • Happiness comes from starting with a positive mindset, not pursuing some future outcome. Positive emotions broaden your thinking and ability to perform. Confidence comes from appreciating past successes, not projecting future ones.

  • When you’re in the GAP, you feel an unhealthy attachment or “need” for some external outcome to be happy. You become desperate. But happiness can’t come from needing things externally. It comes from gratitude for what you have.

  • By focusing on his GAINS instead of Olympic medals he felt he needed, Jansen performed optimally and with joy. Needs create desperation, while wants create motivation.

  • Ogress starts out by telling the truth, but then avoids looking inside and facing the truth when in the GAP (Goals, Attention, Perception). She continually searches outwardly to fill the GAP inside.

  • Happiness comes from realizing you are enough, you have enough, you are worthy of love, and your viewpoints of your experiences are more important than others’ judgments.

  • Identify areas of GAP in your life. Ask yourself what you feel you “need” to be happy, who/what you measure yourself against, and when you made something/someone into an unhealthy “need.”

  • There is a difference between obsessive and harmonious passion. Obsessive passion comes from unhealthy “need” and is highly impulsive, fueled by suppressed emotions. You become obsessed to the point of desperation. Harmonious passion comes from healthy “want” and is mindful, in the flow state.

  • Putting yourself in the GAP leads to obsessive passion. Being in the GAIN leads to harmonious passion. Wanting is a capability that takes practice to develop.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Harmonious passion is intrinsically motivated, healthy, and purposeful. You control your passion rather than having it control you. Trevor Lawrence has a harmonious passion for football.

  • You can want something without needing it. By no longer needing what you want, you become more enabled to get it.

  • Harmonious passion and intrinsic motivation relate to having grit and playing the long game. Obsessive passion and extrinsic motivation don’t.

  • When you’re in the GAIN, you love where you’re at now and where you’re going. You don’t need to be “there” because you’re content being “here.” This creates freedom and abundance.

  • There are two types of freedom: freedom “from” external restraints, and freedom “to” make your own choices and direct your life. True freedom comes from within.

The key is to have harmonious passion fueled by want rather than need, play the long game, and exercise the internal freedom to choose your own path. This allows you to fully embrace and expand your life right now.

Here are a few key points on becoming self-determined and defining your own success criteria:

  • Examine your current reference points and metrics for success. Are they mostly external (money, fame, likes, status, etc.) or intrinsic (growth, contribution, happiness, etc.)?

  • Decide for yourself what success means to you. Don’t let others dictate it. Define your own criteria.

  • Make success measures concrete and quantifiable. Set specific goals so you know when you’ve achieved them.

  • Focus on internal motivation and having an inner compass, not external validation. Become the reference point.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison puts you in the GAP. Run your own race.

  • Reject FOMO and social media validation. These feed unhealthy needs and idealized reference points.

  • Continually re-examine your success metrics. As you grow, they may change. Make sure they align with your values.

  • Take full ownership over your life circumstances and direction. The more self-determined you are, the more intrinsic motivation you’ll have.

  • Accept that you don’t need anyone’s permission to choose what you want for yourself. Don’t apologize for your goals.

  • Be clear not just on your goals, but why you want them. Tie them to core values and purpose.

In summary, becoming self-determined means taking control, defining your own ideals, and no longer measuring yourself against anything external. This leads to deep fulfillment.

  • Define your own “success criteria” rather than rely on external validation or comparison with others. Your success should be measured against your own goals and standards.

  • Appreciate the progress you’ve already made before setting new goals. Recognizing your achievements keeps you motivated.

  • Ask yourself “I know I’m being successful when…” and make a list of what success means to you personally. Update this over time as your perspectives evolve.

  • Use your customized success criteria when making decisions, to avoid chasing the wrong paths and maintain alignment with your values.

  • Eliminate the need to justify your choices to others. Your criteria reflect what matters most to you, which provides clarity and conviction behind your actions.

  • Frequently revisiting your success criteria list helps you stay focused on the right ideals, remain self-determined, and base your self-measurement on internal rather than external reference points.

The key is defining success on your own terms, to avoid comparison and become intrinsically driven. Customized success criteria help you make decisions that serve your fulfillment, values and personal growth.

Here are a few key points about the compound effect of focusing on the GAP versus the GAIN:

  • The GAP stresses you out and taxes your body. Prolonged stress shortens lifespan by wearing the body down over time.

  • The GAIN is restorative and empowering. Optimistic people often live 10+ years longer than pessimistic people.

  • Your perception shapes your biology. How you interpret events affects how your body metabolizes the experience.

  • Believing an activity is exercise makes it more beneficial, even if the activity itself doesn’t change.

  • Believing a food is healthy changes how your body reacts to it. Mindset matters.

  • Over time, small additions or subtractions compound, like interest. The GAP compounds negatively, the GAIN compounds positively.

  • Training your brain to see GAINs takes practice but pays exponential dividends over time in health, performance, and fulfillment.

The key insight is that our mindset and perceptions shape outcomes, often more than the objective facts. Shifting focus to the GAIN compounds in positive ways physiologically and psychologically.

  • The GAP (Growth and Advancement Paradigm) robs you of enjoying your life and appreciating what you already have. It stops you from being grateful and generous.

  • The GAP is created by comparing yourself to others. This was illustrated by examples of the author’s young children complaining about the size of a cookie or number of spoons, despite having gained something.

  • Comparisons make you focus on what you perceive to be missing rather than appreciating the gains you have made. This prevents you from feeling satisfied.

  • To avoid the GAP, stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, practice gratitude for what you have.

  • Focus on your own personal growth and advancement rather than comparing yourself to others. Make progress in your own unique way.

  • If you compare less and feel more gratitude, you will be happier and more resilient. Appreciating your gains is key to staying in the GAIN mindset.

  • Zorah went from having no spoons to having 5 spoons, but because she previously had 6 spoons, she focused on the loss of 1 spoon rather than the gain of 5. This violated her sense of fairness and status.

  • Our son was upset about having a slightly smaller cookie than his siblings, failing to appreciate that he went from having no cookie to having some cookie. He was focused on the comparison, not the gain.

  • According to research, people who feel they’ve gotten an unfair deal will often reject the deal entirely, even if that leaves them with nothing.

  • People with low emotional intelligence are very sensitive to “fairness violations” and can become irrational and reactive.

  • Gratitude helps people appreciate gains rather than obsess over comparisons or fairness. It also aids decision-making.

  • The antidote is calling oneself out for being in the GAP, vocally appreciating the GAIN, and giving others permission to point out when you are in the GAP.

  • The GAP/GAIN framework provides language to describe unhelpful thinking patterns and progress toward more appreciative thinking.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is allowed to see an alternate reality where he was never born. This mental subtraction exercise makes George appreciate all the good things in his actual life.

  • Psychologists have tested mental subtraction - imagining the absence of positives in your life - and found it boosts gratitude and happiness more than just reminiscing about positives.

  • Mentally subtracting a possession, relationship, achievement etc. makes you value it more. Imagining life without an important person is more powerful than just appreciating their presence.

  • Take time to appreciate the GAINS in your life by mentally subtracting something important - a relationship, achievement, health, possession. Imagine life without it, how it would affect you and others. Then refocus on appreciating that GAIN.

  • If we instantly lost whatever we complain about, it would damage our experience and relationships. Give yourself 5 minutes to sulk, then shift to the GAIN mindset.

  • The college soccer team turned their season around by getting 5 minutes to be in the GAP after a loss, then immediately shifting focus to the GAIN - the positives and progress made.

  • Regularly mentally subtract to value GAINS. And don’t stay in the GAP - give yourself 5 minutes max, then appreciate progress and move forward.

Here are a few key ideas on always measuring backward and increasing hope and resilience:

  • Look back regularly to see how far you’ve come. This provides perspective and fuels motivation.

  • Progress is incremental. Appreciate small gains, as they accumulate into big gains over time.

  • Compare yourself to your previous self, not others. Internal reference points prevent discouragement.

  • Focus on growth and learning, not just achievement. The journey itself brings joy when you’re in the GAIN mindset.

  • Share stories of past gains with others. This spreads hope and positivity.

  • Be specific when recounting gains. Details matter and make progress tangible.

  • Measure backward in all areas of life - health, relationships, personal growth, etc.

  • Seeing gains builds confidence to take on new challenges. Past progress indicates future capability.

  • Burnout happens when you only see problems. Reframing to find gains fights despair and energizes you.

  • Appreciating gains, however small, fuels resilience during difficult times.

  • Gratitude and celebration keep you anchored in the GAIN, even amidst hardship.

The key is shifting focus to measure growth rather than just achievement. This fuels ongoing motivation and hope.

Here are the key points I gathered from the summary:

  • Humans quickly adapt to a “new normal” and forget their past struggles and progress. Keeping records of your growth and gains (GAINS) can help you appreciate how far you’ve come.

  • Our memories and perception of the past are colored by our present state. Reviewing past journals/records helps provide an accurate snapshot of your past self and your journey.

  • Many high achievers feel unsuccessful because they measure themselves against where they want to be rather than how far they’ve come (the GAP vs the GAIN).

  • To stay motivated, always measure backward - compare yourself to where you were before rather than where you want to be. Seeing your GAINS helps build confidence.

  • Regularly recording small daily GAINS can be very motivating by highlighting how much you accomplish. Measuring backward keeps you focused on progress rather than ideals.

Here are a few key points I gathered from your reflection:

  • Looking back over the past 10 years, you got married, adopted 3 children, had 3 more children, completed multiple degrees, published books, became an entrepreneur, and donated over $1 million to your church.

  • Over the past 3 years, you moved to Florida, had twins and another child, finished your PhD, bought a house to use as your office, published two more books, tripled your income, and began investing more.

  • In the past 12 months, you’ve sold hundreds of thousands of book copies, had your 6th child, hired help for your wife, took a big family road trip, started a YouTube channel, and launched a new coaching program that grew your business.

  • You emphasized the importance of being specific when listing gains, to truly appreciate the progress made. Overall, the main idea is that consistent reflection on past gains, no matter how small, can reveal profound personal growth and prevent us from taking our development for granted.

Here are a few key points and takeaways from the chapter:

  • The last hour before bed is the most important and high-leverage hour of your day. What you do then gets coded into your long-term memory and sets the tone for the next day.

  • Top performers visualize success and plan ahead during this key hour, while most people mindlessly scroll their phones, compromising the next day.

  • How you end your day influences your sleep, when you’ll wake up, how clear and committed you’ll be the next day, and your overall productivity.

  • Behaviors are addictive and self-signaling - doing something once makes you more likely to repeat it. Scrolling before bed signals a distracted identity.

  • Use the hour before bed proactively to think about important questions and problems. Sleep allows creativity to emerge so you can solve them the next day.

  • End each day by measuring 3 daily wins to code progress into your long-term memory. This fuels motivation, confidence, and identity.

  • The last hour before bed is the optimal time to measure your “3 Wins” for the day. This transforms the next 24 hours.

In summary, be intentional about how you spend the last hour before bed, using it to plan ahead and measure progress from the day. This “sweet spot” hour has an outsized impact on your success.

  • Thomas Edison believed in priming your subconscious mind with questions and problems before bed so your brain can work on them as you sleep.

  • The author experimented with this as a PhD student by journaling and planning blog posts the night before, then waking up early to write them. This enabled him to grow his online platform substantially before finishing school.

  • Don’t compare today’s productivity or wins to other days. Focus on making progress.

  • Put your phone away 30-60 minutes before bed. Then write down 3 things you’re grateful for and 3 wins from that day. Also plan out the 3 most important wins for tomorrow.

  • Writing wins boosts gratitude and confidence. Planning tomorrow’s wins gives you purpose and direction when you wake up.

  • Have no more than 3 priorities/wins per day. This keeps you focused on the vital few rather than getting distracted.

  • Measuring small daily wins retrains your brain to see the gains rather than the gaps in life. What you focus on expands.

  • End each day feeling successful. Then wake up excited for planned wins tomorrow. This develops optimism, confidence and momentum.

  • Howard Getson lost over $2 million in the 2008 financial crisis, but had an epiphany - “No system works all the time, but there is always something that’s working.” He realized this was the worst day for him, but not for everyone.

  • This insight forced Howard to re-examine his investing systems. He had been using a rule to shut off any system that lost over 20%, which removed systems that could have worked well in the current crash conditions.

  • Howard shifted his focus to developing systems tailored to different market conditions, and an overarching system to identify which to use as conditions change. This became the foundation for his AI-driven trading approach.

  • Howard took a terrible experience and turned it into a gain - using the challenge to rethink assumptions and measurements. Rather than avoiding losses, he now measures success by adapting to change.

  • When you’re in the GAP, you’re reactive to experiences, framing them negatively as things that shouldn’t have happened. This puts you in the passenger seat of your experiences.

  • In the GAIN mindset, you proactively look at experiences as opportunities to learn, adapt and improve for the future. You take ownership and extract value.

  • Byron Katie: “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. You don’t have to like it, it’s just easier if you do.” When you take ownership, you free yourself from justifying what happened.

Here are the key points:

  • When things don’t go as expected, you can either see yourself as a powerless victim (the GAP) or take control and improve yourself (the GAIN).

  • The GAIN increases your psychological flexibility - your ability to manage emotions and move forward despite setbacks. The GAP makes you rigid.

  • Flexibility involves “pathways thinking” - finding multiple routes to a goal. Rigidity tries the same failing approach repeatedly.

  • View challenges as opportunities to learn. Transform valleys into peaks.

  • Don’t search for meaning in negative events. Create positive meaning through your response.

  • Own the framing and meaning you give to your experiences. Decide how they will improve you.

  • Let painful experiences transform you for the better. Become better because of them, not bitter.

  • Refine your values and criteria through hardship. Let them guide your decisions and filter out things misaligned with your growth.

The key is to not see yourself as a victim of circumstances, but to take control, find opportunity for growth in challenges, and create positive meaning from your experiences. This flexibility and ownership leads to progress.

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • The Experience Transformer is a tool to extract value and lessons from any experience, positive or negative. It involves reflecting on what worked, what can be learned, what to avoid in the future, and finding gratitude.

  • When you’re in the GAIN, you take full ownership of your experiences and transform them into growth and purpose. You can change what your past experiences mean to you.

  • Trauma happens when you avoid and resent your past rather than transform it. Healing trauma involves framing experiences as GAINS with gratitude.

  • Deliberate rumination involves actively thinking about an experience to create positive meaning. This is enhanced by writing and gratitude, leading to post-traumatic growth.

  • Transforming experiences makes you antifragile - getting better through difficulty. Seeing life as a GAIN increases flexibility and empowerment.

The key is taking ownership to transform all experiences into learning and growth through deliberate reflection. This builds resilience, purpose and gratitude.

  • Happiness should not be an unachievable ideal we pursue. Trying to achieve an impossible ideal puts us in the GAP (Get Away From Pain).

  • Rather than measuring yourself against an ideal, always measure backward against where you’ve come from. This keeps you in the GAIN (Get Away From Pain).

  • Measuring backward provides many benefits: liberates you from the GAP, gets you off the hedonic treadmill, stops comparisons with others, helps appreciate progress and life.

  • Each day you measure backward, you become happier, further along, wiser than before. You start from a point of happiness and expand it daily.

  • Reflecting on how far you’ve come already can be incredibly humbling. Look at the obstacles overcome, the growth achieved.

  • With this perspective, you realize you can go so much further. Life becomes an upward spiral, with ever greater clarity, purpose and confidence.

The key is to not measure yourself against ideals but against how far you’ve come, to stay in the GAIN mindset and appreciate all the growth behind and ahead.

  • Dan Sullivan argues that we should stop judging ourselves based on fluctuating external standards and ideals. This leads to frustration and unhappiness.

  • Instead, we should focus on internal standards, passions, and personal growth. Judge yourself based on your own inner compass.

  • Create “GAINS” - specific, tangible areas of life you want to improve. Focus on progress in these GAINS rather than comparing yourself to others.

  • The more GAINS you create, the more you focus on constant improvement and adaptability. This leads to fulfillment.

  • You control your direction in life. With each GAIN, you become more selective about your future. No one else can replicate your unique experiences and growth.

  • Reflect on how far you’ve come already. Then commit to keep making progress and creating new GAINS. It’s an endless journey of self-improvement.

The key is to stop judging yourself on external validation, and instead focus inward on your passions, growth, and creating the life you want. Measure progress in your own GAINS rather than comparing yourself to others.

Here is a summary of the key points about the psychology of success:

  • Success can be defined in many ways, but often involves achieving goals, gaining social status and respect, and feeling satisfied. How people define success is highly personal.

  • Successful people tend to have certain habits and characteristics, like being proactive, having perseverance, continuously learning, and maintaining a positive mindset. However, there is no single formula for success.

  • Our beliefs and expectations can shape our reality. Having hope, envisioning future success, and implementing intentions are key for achievement.

  • Habits and automaticity are powerful - tiny changes can lead to big results over time. Intentionally building positive habits is important.

  • Mindsets matter. How we perceive challenges, setbacks, stressors affects our performance and biology. Adopting a growth mindset enables persistence.

  • Gratitude, perspective-taking, and subtracting positives can boost motivation, relationships, anddecision-making. Reframing situations can impact emotions, health, and more.

  • Competence develops in stages. Recognizing your current stage allows appropriate goal-setting. Visualizing your future competent self can drive progress.

  • Overall, psychology research provides many insights into the cognitive, emotional, and social factors that can help facilitate achievement and satisfaction - key aspects of success. But application of these principles depends greatly on the individual.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passages:

  • Psychological flexibility involves being open, centered, and engaged with the present, and changing or persisting according to one’s values (Katie, Bond et al.). It enables better coping, performance, and wellbeing.

  • Hope involves having the motivation and pathways to achieve goals (Snyder et al.). High-hope people envision more routes to their goals and feel more empowered.

  • High hope enables better academic performance, problem-solving, and ability to cope with adversity (Chang, Snyder et al.).

  • Entrepreneurs can create “high-hope” environments by envisioning possibilities, empowering teams, and providing support and resources for achieving goals (Law & Lacey).

  • Psychological flexibility and hope are mutually reinforcing. Flexibility enables generating new pathways, while hope motivates persisting in the face of obstacles. Both traits are key for resilience and thriving.

The key points relate to the benefits of psychological flexibility and hope, how they enable performance and wellbeing, and how leaders can nurture these mindsets. The passages emphasize the importance of adaptability, seeing possibilities, and persisting toward meaningful goals.

Here is a summary of the key points from the referenced chapters:

  • Grit and passion are related but distinct concepts. Grit entails perseverance and sustained effort toward long-term goals, while passion involves intrinsic motivation and intense positive feelings toward an activity.

  • Grit has been associated with achievement and success across domains, but passion shows more variability in its outcomes depending on the type of passion (harmonious vs obsessive). Harmonious passion predicts greater psychological health and well-being.

  • Recent research suggests grit and passion should not be pursued blindly or mindlessly. They require direction through purposeful goals and values to lead to positive outcomes.

  • Mindsets like grit and passion shape behaviors, but they are also malleable and can be developed through effort and practice. Interventions may focus on fostering purpose, hope, optimism, and growth mindsets.

  • Future research is needed on how grit and passion develop over time and interact with other psychological processes like rumination and cognitive flexibility. There are still open questions about their conceptualization, measurement, and applications.

  • Happiness and success come from living in accordance with your values, not societal standards. Focus on intrinsic motivations.

  • Take ownership of your future self by making choices today that set you up for long-term flourishing. Don’t sacrifice future happiness for immediate gratification.

  • Adopt a growth mindset. Believe abilities can be developed through effort. View setbacks as learning opportunities.

  • Practice mindfulness to increase awareness and live more intentionally. Reduce distractions and autopilot behaviors.

  • Foster positive relationships. Surround yourself with people who support your growth and share your values.

  • Develop self-efficacy and an internal locus of control. Believe in your ability to influence outcomes through your actions.

  • Pursue flow experiences. Seek challenging activities that allow you to use your strengths and remain immersed.

  • Apply science-based strategies like setting microgoals, tracking behaviors, planning for obstacles, and building habits.

  • Keep learning, experimenting, and expanding your horizons. Continual self-improvement is key for a fulfilling life.

Here is a summary of the key points from the three articles:

Hell, A., & Arnold, M. (2004)

  • Special education teachers with stronger behavior management skills are more likely to stay in their jobs.
  • Self-efficacy specifically in behavior management is a significant predictor of retention.

Moors, A., & De Houwer, J. (2006)

  • Automaticity refers to unintentional, uncontrolled, goal-independent processing of stimuli.
  • Automaticity develops through repeated experience with stimuli and responses.

Moskalev, A., et al. (2014)

  • Aging is influenced by genetics, epigenetics, and environmental factors.
  • Certain genetic pathways, like insulin/IGF-1 signaling, can extend lifespan across species.
  • Epigenetic alterations accumulate over time and affect gene expression and aging.

In summary, the first article looks at predictors of retention for special education teachers, the second examines the concept of automaticity, and the third reviews genetics and epigenetics related to aging and longevity.

How to Dominate Life from the Bottom Up (James), 55

self-image and habit, 119

What Makes a Life Significant, 139

journaling exercises

AGAIN: Three GAINS, 105

ASK: Am I Seeing the Gain?, 79

calling yourself out, 69

did you make progress?, 40–41

GAINS: this week’s successes, 103

goals: are they motivating?, 36

listing 10 GAINS from past week, 98

looking backward, 100–101

make today easy, 84

motivation audit, 43

plan for today, 126

PPM: Pre-Plan My…, 83

retraining your perception, 132–133

W3D: Wins From the Day, 128–131


Keltner, Dacher, 43

Kouzes, James M., 78–79, 81


lasting change, xxii, 117–168 (see also progress)

layering, 94–101

Lego analogy, 94–100

letting go, 37–38. see also self-determination


bedtime and, 121

GAIN and, 53–60

sweet spot of day and, 117–122

locus of control

autonomy and, 25–29, 35

defined, 42, 45–46

Loury, Glenn, 13–15


mastery, sense of

measuring backward and, 93–102, 165–166

motivation and, 11

McGonigal, Jane, xxvii

McKee, Annie, 69


measuring backward (see Always. Measure. Backward. (A.W.B.))

of progress, xxv–xxviii, 33, 39–47 (see also self-determination)

start points and, xix–xxii


for bedtime, 119–120, 122, 124

to change perspective, 56–59, 132

Mel Robbins, 102

memory and brain. see brain and memory

mental contrasting, 74–78

mental models, 109–113

mental subtraction, 73–78

Miller, Donald, 169


changing mindset from GAP to GAIN (see compound effect of GAP vs. GAIN)

growth mindset, 61, 63, 90–91

intelligence and, 90–91

on mastery, 11

motivation and, 11, 90–91

MINDSPACE framework, 84

Morris, Dan, 7


auditing, 35–43

autonomy and, 24–29

broaden-and-build theory on, 5–11

envisioning potential and, 168–172

filtering system for, 45–50

flow state and, 17, 19

from freedom “to,” 25–29

goals and, 34–35 (see also goals)

gratitude and, 5–6

grit and, 20–25

harmonious passion vs. obsessive passion, 11–20

intrinsic vs. extrinsic, 34–37

journaling on, 43

progress and strengthening, 89–113 (see also progress)

purpose and meaning for, 139–145

self-determination theory on, 33–37

as starting point, xi–xii, xiii, xv

subconscious and sleep, 118–122

Moussavi, Saba, 164

Mueller, Claudia M., 45


negative emotions, perception and, 9

negative visualizations, 75–78

Nestler, Eric, 55

The New Earth (Tolle), 56


obsessive passion

defined, 11–17

harmonious passion vs., 11–20


envisioning potential and, 168–172

measuring progress for, 5, 89–113

perception and, 5, 9

Ornish, Dean, 54, 120

overjustification effect, 34


Parks, Rosa, 163

passion. see harmonious passion; obsessive passion

pathways thinking, 161

Paulos, John Allen, 30–31

Pavlov’s dog experiment, 94–95


editing/changing perspectives, 132

filtering system shaping, 55–59

optimism and, 5, 9

re-training to see GAIN vs. GAP, 131

self-perception and habit, 119–120

performance. see progress

Perlis, Alan, 96

persistence, GAIN and, 62–63

personal development, xxvii–xxviii

pessimism, 5, 9

physical health

bedtime and longevity, 121

GAIN and effect on lifespan/health, 53–66

player piano analogy, 96

pleasure chemicals, 58–59, 120

PLOS ONE study on Facebook, 163

positive emotions, building, 5–11

positive visualizations, 75–78

potential, envisioning, 168–172

power poses, 62

pre-thinking, 83–84

priming, automaticity and, 94–95

prisoners in concentration camps study, 27

Problem-Solution Fit, 110–111

process, focusing on, 51–53


book structure reflecting, xiii–xiv

claiming past GAINS, 93–112

as continual, 89–93

daily tracking of GAINS, 125–133

layering GAINS and, 94–102

remembering/journaling on GAINS, 103–106

reminding yourself of GAINS, 106–109

strengthening motivation, 89–113

visualizing layers of GAINS, 97

progress vs. perfection, 51–85

psychological health

AGAIN technique for, 105

anxiety reduced by measuring backward, 93

bedtime routine for, 117–125

depression and GAP vs. GAIN, xviii

gratitude and, 5–6

life-span affected by GAP vs. GAIN, 53–60

progress and motivation improving, 89–113

purpose and meaning for, 139–145

sweet spot of day for, 117–125

Pursuit of Unhappiness, The (grover), xxv


Ram Dass, 170

rationalization, 68–73

reappraisal, cognitive, 57–59

reference dependence, 92

Robbins, Mel, 102

Rohn, Jim, xxiii, 17

Rohn, John, 17


deliberate, 161–163

intrusive, 163

post-traumatic growth and, 161–163


Sapolsky, Robert, 56, 59

scheduling. see daily wins

Schultz, Darren Hardy and

Compound Effect, The, 90

Living Your Best Year Ever, 7

Schwartz, Barry, 43

science on progress. see brain and memory; perception; physical health; psychological health

Scully, Coach, 48

Segerstrom, Suzanne C., 163

self-coaching, 65–78

self-determination, xiii, 25–50

autonomy and, 24–29, 35

calling yourself out, 68–73

envisioning potential and, 168–172

filtering system for, 45–50

letting go and, 37–38

locus of control and, 42, 45–46

meaning and purpose for, 139–145

motivation audit, 35–43

progress measurement and, 33, 39–47

self-efficacy, 33

Seneca, 75–76

sense of mastery. see mastery, sense of

shame, vulnerability and, 67


for brain and memory, 118–122

smartphone addiction affecting, 120, 125

tracking wins before bedtime, 125–137

SMART goals, 52, 104–106

smartphone addiction, 120, 125

smooth brain (Lissencephaly), 89–93

Socrates, 164

Stanley, Thomas J., 126

Stanovich, Keith, 45

starting over, 78–84

Stoicism, 76

strengths, focusing on using, 32


hormetic, 54

post-traumatic growth from, 161–163


directing, during sleep, 119–122

priming/automaticity and, 94–95

success. see high achievers; progress

success partner, reporting wins to, 133–135

Sullivan, Dan

blog, 123

on freedom, 25

partnership with Benjamin Hardy, xxx, 109, 110

on potential, 169–170

Who Not How, xxx, 109, 110

on “winning the day,” 117

YouTube channel, 111

Svane, Mikkel, 41

sweet spot, finding your, 113–137

bedtime routine for, 117–125

recording three daily wins, 125–133

reporting to success partner, 133–135


Tedeschi, Richard G., 161

10,000-hour rule, 95

Thompson, Derek, xxii

3 toxins (minimizing), 67

time-block goal setting, 53

Tolle, Eckhart, 56

Tominey, Shauna, 73

tracing improvement, 89–102. see also progress

tracking progress. see measurement

trajectory, changing, xviii–xix

transformation of experience, 155–172

active (GAIN) vs. passive (GAP), 161

envisioning potential and, 168–172

frame of reference affecting, 155–164


underconfidence, 126

urgency, creating, 84



of future potential, 168–172

mental subtraction, 73–78

visualizing layers of GAINS, 97


Walsh, Lisa C., 8

The War of Art (Pressfield), 51

Weiner, Jeff, 13–15

What Makes a Life Significant (James), 139

Who Not How (Hardy and Sullivan), xxx, 109, 110

Widing, Roy, 61–62

Wilson, Timothy D., 73

wins. see daily wins

work. see high achievers

World Health Organization study, 164


yes space, creating, 84

yin and yang, GAP and GAIN as, xxiii


Zeigarnik effect, 83

Ziglar, Zig, 87, 153

Here are the key points I took from the Acknowledgments sections:

  • Dan Sullivan thanks his partner Babs Smith, the Strategic Coach team, coaches, and clients for their contributions to developing and sharing the GAP/GAIN concepts. He acknowledges Tucker Max, Ben Hardy, and Reid Tracy for making the book possible.

  • Ben Hardy thanks Dan Sullivan for the life-changing ideas, Babs Smith for the trust and opportunity, Tucker Max for establishing the book deal and providing guidance, and the Hay House team for their work on the book. He expresses gratitude for the chance to be part of Strategic Coach’s important work.

Overall, both authors express gratitude to the people and organizations that helped bring the GAP/GAIN concepts and book to fruition, including their collaborators, the Strategic Coach team and community, and the publishers. Their acknowledgments highlight the collaborative nature of developing and spreading impactful ideas.

  • Dan expresses gratitude to Melody Guy and the team at Hay House for their incredible support, respect, and partnership in creating this book.

  • He thanks his mom, Susan Knight, for her time and care in providing detailed feedback on early drafts of the book. Her insights greatly improved the final product.

  • He acknowledges his wife Lauren for her constant encouragement and trust in him, even during difficult times.

  • He thanks his children for inspiring him and teaching him so much about the concepts of The Gap and The Gain.

  • He expresses appreciation to his dad Philip Hardy for being a role model of growth and overcoming challenges.

  • He thanks God for the opportunities and abilities to transform his experiences into gains and for seeing his gains rather than gaps.

In summary, Dan thanks the many people who supported, inspired, and contributed to the creation of this book, including his family, Hay House team, and God. He acknowledges the meaningful roles they played in helping him share his message with readers.

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe