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Book Summary: The 6 Phase Meditation Method – The Proven Technique to Supercharge Your Mind, Manifest Your Goals, and Make Magic in Minutes a Day

The 6 Phase Meditation Method (2022) is a ground-breaking transformational guide divided into six distinct phases. In as little as 20 minutes, you can reclaim your life and reap the many practical benefits of meditation.

Book Summary: The 6 Phase Meditation Method - The Proven Technique to Supercharge Your Mind, Manifest Your Goals, and Make Magic in Minutes a Day

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Unlock the true value of meditation.
Compassion – connect more deeply and become a kinder person.
Gratitude – the ultimate cure for a scarcity mindset.
Forgiveness – the superpower that sets you free.
Future Vision – set long-term goals to propel your life forward.
Daily Intention – turn your dreams into actionable steps.
Blessing – connect with a higher power to feel energized and supported.
Summary
About the author
Table of Contents
Overview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast
Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Genres

Psychology, Mindfulness, Happiness, Personal Development, Self Help, Health, Spirituality, Wellness, Meditation, Personal Success, Self Improvement, Personal Growth, Alternative Medicine

Introduction: Unlock the true value of meditation.

Okay, find a comfortable position. Be aware of your body and feel your breath as you inhale deeply and then slowly out. If you feel your mind beginning to wander, then…”

STOP!

Forget what you think you know about meditation. This is meditation, but not as you know it. So forget about incense, oversized cushions, and candles. That’s not how this deal works.

Most meditation programs only teach you how to relax. While this is useful, it’s only one part of the puzzle. If you genuinely want to improve your life, you have to commit to becoming your best self. This means cultivating practical qualities like forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion. In this summary to Vishen Lakhiani’s The 6 Phase Meditation Method, you’ll learn how to nurture those traits and more.

The best part is that anyone can practice this method regardless of faith or belief. So, whether you’re an American Baptist, Agnostic, or Atheist, these six lessons can help you train your brain to be peaceful and productive.

Millions of people have already benefited from this method. And in the next 15 minutes, you can too.

Compassion – connect more deeply and become a kinder person.

In boxing, two opponents fight in a ring until one wins. After that, the fight is over – forever. But in spite of this, at the end of each bout, it’s pretty common for the two fighters to embrace. But why? After all, the battle is over. Well, through the process of a long, brutal, and sometimes life-threatening fight, most boxers form a bond with their opponent. As a result, they feel great empathy for each other. A hug at the end of the fight is a chance to reconnect – to show each other compassion.

And why not be compassionate? Us-versus-them thinking is one of the most harmful aspects of society. It fuels resentment, rage, and violence. By cultivating compassion, we promote equality. When we do, we realize we all want the same things: to be happy and free of suffering. The world becomes less frightening when we accept that we’re all in this together.

So, do you consider yourself a compassionate person? The good news is, that even if you don’t, you can learn to be compassionate – and there are powerful advantages to doing so. For example, studies have shown that compassion increases happiness while decreasing anxiety and depression.

So how can you learn? Well, you can develop compassion using the first phase of this meditation method. Try this visualization exercise. Inhale deeply and then exhale slowly. Now imagine a loved one in front of you. Allow the sensation of love to spread throughout your body, from your heart to every cell. Feel it form a comforting bubble around you. Take another deep breath. Exhale and visualize your compassion spreading through your home. Now spread that kindness across the whole of your country. Go one step further and watch your compassion disseminate across the entire world.

Of course, it’s a big ask. But it all comes down to practice. If you get tired, go back to the first step and repeat. Imagine your loved one and replenish the oxytocin you’ve drained. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be to access compassion when you need it the most.

As you become empathic, your connections become more profound, secure, and harmonious. You’ll also be more comfortable with compassion and more likely to act kindly in everyday life. Now, let’s move on to discuss how to combine your compassion with gratitude.

Gratitude – the ultimate cure for a scarcity mindset.

Happiness can be kind of elusive. But, you know you’ll be happy when you get the perfect job or lose those last few pounds, right? Well, that may be so, for a while at least, but unfortunately, the novelty of new experiences or newly achieved goals soon wears off, and you find yourself returning to feeling exactly as you did before. So, what’s the problem? Simply that we humans are rarely pleased. We’re always focusing on the “forward gap.” This is the space between where we are and where we want to be. We’re always looking to close this gap. But – and here’s the real crux of the matter – we’ll never close that gap. Instead, when we get close to achieving something, we quickly move on to something else, delaying happiness further. Fortunately, the author Dan Sullivan has a solution: gratitude.

Sullivan observed a “forward gap pattern” in hundreds of entrepreneurs. They were brilliant people with fabulous lifestyles, but they were unsatisfied. They were victims of “I’ll-be-happy-when” syndrome, convinced bliss was around the corner. So Dan proposed a mental flip. They should start focusing on what they have rather than what they didn’t. He encouraged them to recognize how far they’d come as people. As a result, they transformed their outlook and began living peacefully.

You see, when you’re grateful, your brain produces dopamine and serotonin. These are the two chemicals that create happiness and relaxation. And this is the reason why Thanksgiving and Christmas are the happiest times of the year.

To practice gratitude, we’ll use the 3×3 Gratitude Method. During this second phase, devote a few minutes each day to the three most important parts of your life: personal, work, and self. Start by listing three things you’re grateful for in each area. In your personal life, for example, you could say, “I’m grateful I get to wake up next to my lovely partner.” Or, “I appreciate last night’s dinner party with my friends.” Next, select three parts of your work life that you value in the same way. Before you know it, you may even change your mind about your job. Finally, take note of three more things about yourself. Reflect and embody self-appreciation. Soon, you’ll feel stronger and more secure knowing your point of view is the only one that matters.

A grateful mind always looks for the best. So, be thankful for what you have and reverse the forward gap. Gratitude is one of the most valuable and powerful feelings you can experience. Best of all, it’s free! So, no matter your circumstances, you can start practicing. It just takes a little time and effort.

Forgiveness – the superpower that sets you free.

If you could have one superpower what would you choose? Perhaps invisibility or flight. Well, how about something more useful – the willingness to forgive? Forgiveness is often seen as a sign of weakness, but actually, it takes tremendous strength. When you’ve been wronged, it’s natural to feel anger or even hatred. It’s hard to put these feelings to one side. But dragging those negative feelings around doesn’t help anyone. You deserve to be happy. Forgiveness can help you get there.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you approve of their behavior. It simply means you’ve decided to let go of your bitterness. You can’t change what happened, but you can change your attitude. Most people assume their physical acts have the most impact on their lives. But actually, it’s your thoughts and feelings that shape reality. So to improve your life, you must first change your intentions.

Now all of this takes time. Forgiveness is a muscle you have to exercise. Begin practicing forgiveness by envisioning a safe place. Then, bring the person, or representation of the harmful act, into your area. Read them the charge; inform the offender of what they did wrong. The idea is to draw out every last emotion. Then, once all your emotions have died down, you’ll identify the lessons. For example, you might realize that as a result of the painful event you experienced, you’ve learned to set healthy limits and communicate better.

Try to imagine how the offender feels. Merge into their physical body. What past events might cause them to act this way? End your pain by allowing yourself to heal through understanding and forgiveness. To boost your self-esteem, you also have to forgive yourself. Again, it won’t be easy, but follow the third phase and accept that forgiveness is available to you.

Ultimately, only you can choose whom to forgive. Still, it’s a decision that can lead to a brighter future – a future you can design. In the next section, we’ll explore how you can do that.

Future Vision – set long-term goals to propel your life forward.

Do you ever let your mind wander? Perhaps you fantasize about your ideal home or a stroll along the beach while on your perfect vacation. It might feel like this is idle daydreaming, but when you do this, you engage in creative visualization, a powerful tool for achieving your goals and propelling your life forward.

When you visualize your dreams, your creative subconscious generates plans and ideas. It’s like feeding data into your brain to create a new program. This information sharpens your mind, making you sensitive to any signs or resources that might help you succeed.

Obviously, nothing changes overnight, but over time things can change for the better. The three-year rule is a solid starting point for shaping your destiny. A three-year timeline prevents you from overestimating your abilities. So are you ready to give it a shot? Begin by imagining a large TV screen. What do you see in your future? Picture it unfolding like a movie. Do you crave a passionate relationship? Do you want to be healthy and strong? It helps if you’re specific. Write down what you want to see in your life to confirm it’s right for you.

Better still, visualize your future by writing a life manifesto. This document will serve as a guide and help keep you focused. It’s also one of the best ways to increase your chances of making your dreams come true. A life manifesto declares your aims and who you want to become. Use this document to record and remind yourself of your most important goals.

Writing a life manifesto doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. First, brainstorm a list of things you’d like to achieve or experience in the next three years. Then, examine your health and fitness, emotional outlook, spiritual fulfillment, career satisfaction, relationships, and more. Be descriptive. The more senses you use when writing your manifesto, the better. Craft a detailed emotive vision, and don’t be afraid to dream big. So, what are you waiting for? Start fine-tuning your long-term goals today.

Daily Intention – turn your dreams into actionable steps.

Suppose you wake up on a Friday morning. You’re due at work, but after, you’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. The day looks promising. And because of your positive attitude, everything works out. So, why can’t every day be a feel-good Friday?

It seems too much to hope for. But it isn’t!

Planning for the present is as crucial as planning for the future. For the fifth phase of meditation, you have to declare your intentions for them to impact your future. Close your eyes and pull up your big TV screen again. Imagine how your entire day might look. See and feel it in 360° detail. Start with “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . . ” before declaring your intention. If you already have a strong belief in the power of your mind, go for a command. For example, “Today, my favorite song will play on the radio.” See, hear, taste, smell, and feel your upcoming day play out to perfection, just as you did in the previous phase, but this time in chronological order.

Assuming you have a full day, it can be helpful to visualize it in half-hour chunks. Plan what you’ll do and how you’ll feel during each half-hour period. For example, you may predict feeling energized and joyful in the first half hour as you prepare for the day ahead. Next, visualize yourself as focused and productive as you begin working. Then, you’ll have a delicious lunch with music playing in the background during your break. And so on.

When you concentrate on a pleasant day, your reticular activating system (RAS) – a network of nerves in your brainstem that filters out unnecessary information – will kick in, letting you see and feel that your day is going well. So when you decide to have a great day, it has a ripple effect.

Treating each day as if it were your last is a tall order. But if you do, you’ll realize your dreams sooner. Not only that, but you’ll be a happier person with a better attitude.

Blessing – connect with a higher power to feel energized and supported.

It’s easy to forget that there’s more to life than gadgets and gizmos. The media continuously bombards us with methods and means to boost productivity but little about raising consciousness. To honor your practice, the sixth phase involves receiving a blessing from a higher power. While it’s crucial to program your mind for success, you should also be open to receiving help and support.

Being human means constantly battling the “primitive mind” and the “higher mind.” Your primitive mind is isolated from the rest of the world. It’s a survival system that always looks for ways to make you feel safe. Meanwhile, your higher mind connects to something bigger than you. It recognizes the profound harmony shared by all life on Earth. Phase six is designed to help you access your higher mind. When you do this, you raise your level of consciousness and tap into a vast reservoir of courage and strength.

In this exercise, visualize receiving a blessing from a higher authority. This could be any force in which you have faith, such as the universe, God, or your “higher self.” Imagine a bright light falling from the sky and enveloping your body. Feel your higher power’s love and support flow through you while you do so. Remember, you can replace universe with whatever word you like. It’s OK if you don’t believe in a higher power. Instead, consider the light to be a symbol of positivity and goodwill. Your aim is to prime yourself to receive help from other sources. You’re reassuring yourself that you’re not alone. If you believe that the universe truly loves you, you’ll be more likely to experience a wonderful life.

Summary

Here are is the key message in this summary:

This six-phase meditation method is a great place to begin your exciting self-development journey. Whether you’re spiritual or not, keep meditating even if you think you’ve plateaued. You’ll reap the benefits if you stick with it. Plus, the skills you learn will help you thrive in the face of any challenge.

Spending just 20 minutes each day on these exercises will recharge your reserves of compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, creative visualization, and spiritual connection. A good time to begin your exercises is early in the morning so that you have the entire day to benefit from and prepare for any challenges that may arise. And since you start your day with openness and optimism, you’ll also have more chances to share that positivity with others.

This planet is full of infinite possibilities, but it all starts with us. When we connect with our inner strength, we connect with something bigger than ourselves. We discover serenity, calmness, and mental discipline. And it’s from there that we can make changes. Consider how different life would be if everyone took the time to meditate. Earth would be magical, filled with love, light, and happiness. So why not get started right away?

About the author

Vishen Lakhiani is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a personal growth education empire with more than two million students, which teaches revolutionary success systems for mastering life via online learning platforms, storytelling and filmmaking, and live events. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Buddha and the Badass and The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, which has been translated into more than twenty languages.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1
How to Practice the 6 Phase Meditation 25
Chapter 1 Phase 1: The Circle of Love and Compassion 37
Chapter 2 Phase 2: Happiness and Gratitude 61
Chapter 3 Phase 3: Peace Through Forgiveness 87
Chapter 4 Phase 4: A Vision for Your Future 115
Chapter 5 Phase 5: Mastering Your Day 141
Chapter 6 Phase 6: The Blessing 153
Chapter 7 From Practice to Mastery: The Final Word 167
The 6 Phase Meditation Transcript 177
Notes 185
Acknowledgments 189
Index 191

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of The Buddha and the Badass and The Code of the Extraordinary Mind shares the secret weapon of the world’s top achievers: his signature hyper-efficient meditation program that anyone can make time for.

There are hundreds of types of meditation out there. But entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani credits his success to a condensed, magic-making, joy-creating, productivity-inducing, goal-smashing mega meditation: The 6 Phase Meditation.

Simply put, Vishen hacked meditation. He pulled from thousands of years of psycho-spiritual wisdom, cherry-picked the best bits, translated it all into plain English, and put it into a logical, 15-minute practice that anyone can master. The 6 phases are centered on Connection, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Envisioning Your Future, Daily Intention, and Blessing, and only demand 15 minutes of your day. One of the side effects of this particular meditation is increased focus and reduced anxiety as you shift from overwhelm to overwellness–Vishen’s word for an optimum level of balance in all aspects of your life.

No matter what you’ve got going on–an endless to-do list, screaming kids, financial burdens–it doesn’t matter. You can thrive because you’ve trained for all of life’s insanity on your meditation cushion.

Don’t be fooled by the title. This book has nothing to do with meditation as you know it. We just didn’t have enough space on the front cover to call it The 6 Phase Multi-Faceted Psycho-Spiritual Transcendent Mind-Training Technique . . .

Leading a revolution in meditation, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Vishen Lakhiani interviewed nearly 1,000 neuroscientists, monks, yogis, and meditation experts over years of study. He distilled thousands of years of psycho-spiritual wisdom to create The 6 Phase Meditation Method—aka, meditation for badasses.

Used daily by athletes, artists, rock stars, and CEOs, the 6 Phase Meditation is a magic-making, joy-creating, productivity-inducing protocol that empowers you to get focused, find peace, and manifest your goals.

The key to unlocking all this magic? Six unique thought exercises that you run through your head as a hyper-efficient programming script. You can complete this meditation from the comfort of your bed, from your office or on your next flight, wherever or whenever you choose.

No matter how busy, prone to a wandering mind, or allergic to the lotus posture you are, the 6 Phase Meditation is suitable for absolutely everyone, no exceptions. And this transcendent sequence is custom-designed to produce these peak states in its practitioners in minutes a day. No boredom, special breathing, or “clearing your mind” required.

Delivered with humor, a practical how-to, and a free app to support you on your journey, the 6 Phase Meditation is waiting for you.

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“A beautiful step-by-step guide that artfully combines gratitude, manifestation, and emotional mastery.”—Jay Shetty, author of Think Like a Monk and host of the On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast

“Brilliant.”—The Hollywood Times

“Vishen’s meditation program is a beautiful step-by-step guide that artfully combines gratitude, manifestation, and emotional mastery into a few minutes per day. Don’t just read this book, practice it.”—Jay Shetty, author of the New York Times bestseller Think Like a Monk

“A groundbreaking way to level up your focus and creativity. Vishen shows you step by step how to train your mind for brilliance.”—Marie Forleo, author of the New York Times bestseller Everything Is Figureoutable

“I love Vishen’s observation that traditional meditation just isn’t suited for the demands of the world today. The 6 Phase Meditation Method offers ancient wisdom redesigned for the modern world. He has streamlined powerful techniques so that you can harness their power no matter how busy you are.”—Jillian Michaels, New York Times bestselling author of Master Your Metabolism

“Vishen has a gift for synthesizing wisdom from a diversity of traditions into easily digestible steps—and he does it with his unique humor and style. In The 6 Phase Meditation Method, he brings that gift to meditation and other mental practices so that you can supercharge yourself every day.”—Dr. Shefali Tsabary, New York Times bestselling author of A Radical Awakening

“The 6 Phase Meditation is a powerful tool for uncovering more of your limitless potential. Vishen guides you through it with his signature wit and defiance of the status quo.”—Jim Kwik, New York Times bestselling author of Limitless

“You could spend your whole life meditating and not getting anything done. That’s why you need to learn the most important meditation to get the results you want quickly. Vishen’s new book teaches you how to do it in a new, simple, and effective way. His 6 Phase Meditation practice is truly transformational. Try it and enjoy being upgraded!”—Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof & Father of Biohacking

“Discipline, focus, creativity, productivity, joy, and self-mastery—we all want them, but how do we get them? Vishen has constructed a beautiful roadmap, based on ancient traditions, guiding us step by step to tap into the qualities that we need to step into the light of who we are, live the best version of ourselves, and contribute to making the world a better place.”—Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Speaking with Spirit

“We’ve been waiting for this and it’s finally here! No special breathing or sitting still techniques needed, and you can easily build this practice into your wellness routine every day. I’d recommend this to any of my celebrity clients, hands down.”—Tim Storey, bestselling author and celebrity life coach

“Vishen has dedicated his life to learning from the world’s very best. I am so excited that he has distilled his learnings into an easy to practice and effective technique in the 6 Phase Meditation, which will help transmute stress to joy.”—Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation and creator of zivaONLINE

Video and Podcast

Book Summary: The 6 Phase Meditation Method

Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Infographic for The 6 Phase Meditation Method

Infographic for The 6 Phase Meditation Method

Chapter 1

Phase 1: The Circle of Love and Compassion

It is quite possible to lose one’s sense of being a separate self and to experience a kind of boundless, open awareness—to feel, in other words, at one with the cosmos. —Sam Harris

Lift up your armpit and give it a whiff. Go on, seriously. I’m going somewhere with this.

What do you smell? Odds are, nothing too dramatic. In fact, you’re probably detecting something borderline pleasant—the smell of minty fresh deodorant, floral cologne, or remnants of the shower gel you used this morning. Or perhaps all you pick up on is the sweet, succulent scent of your own awesomeness.

But if I’d asked you to sniff yourself in the same way in 1920, you’d have probably fainted. Because a hundred years ago, bathing wasn’t exactly a priority. Your breath would have reeked too. Did you know that in the early 1920s, only 7 percent of Americans bothered to brush their teeth?

That said, we’ve made quite a bit of progress in the last hundred years, haven’t we? Nowadays most of us are aware that hygiene is of the utmost importance. And when we shower and slap on some perfume, we’re not just doing it for ourselves—we’re also doing it in the name of other people’s olfactory delight.

So why is it that while billions of people rock up at work smelling like a jasmine flower, most of them haven’t given a second thought to their mental hygiene?

We wash our bodies daily. But we forget to wash our minds.

Many people, myself included, have woken up in the morning with feelings of anxiety, stress, or regrets from the day before. That’s okay, it’s human. But the problems arise when we choose to do nothing about those feelings. Because just like a bad smell, those states of being will also undoubtedly impact other people.

Whether you want to consciously or not, you’re probably going to take out your frustrations on the world. When we’re lost in an ocean of our own baggage, compassion goes out the window. We’ve set ourselves up for a bad day along with anyone else in the firing line.

Compassion: The Benefits

Compassion trains your brain to be kinder. And trust me, in today’s world, kindness is a competitive advantage. But more on that later.

Compassion brings about an infectious bliss that touches everyone we come into contact with. As well as feeling amazing while you’re practicing, compassion also helps prevent unnecessary bad juju from ruining your day, never mind anyone else’s. Mountains suddenly don’t have to be made out of molehills, because you get that, really, there’s no difference between you and your fellow human being. With the practice of compassion, you’re able to see yourself in others, and therefore you can more easily let things slide.

Like when the waiter gets your order wrong. You know the feeling. That sinking in your stomach, that oh for crying out loud drama that goes off in your head when your steak isn’t cooked the way you requested . . . ​sure, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s just plain annoying. You’ll be damned if you give them a tip.

Now, I’m famously known as a great tipper. And that’s not because I have an addiction to polishing my halo. It all came about as an unexpected side effect of engaging in compassion practices.

A few months back during a respite between pandemic lockdowns, a friend and I decided to hit a local café. And that was exciting because none of us had had the luxury of eating out in a long time. There was a queue of people just waiting to get in, and they were all happy to wait, smiling beneath their face coverings.

When we eventually were seated, I joyfully ordered a cup of coffee and a breakfast omelet with avocado from the waitress who approached our table.

Twenty minutes later, my coffee arrived. I took a sip. It was room temperature. And that, when you live in Northern Europe, means cold. My friend, fuming at this point, sat back and tutted as I calmly asked for a hot coffee. Apologetic, the waitress scurried off to make me a new one. Only she didn’t. She forgot.

Another thirty minutes later, my omelet was presented to me. But the guacamole side was missing. My friend turned to me, half laughing, half angry, and whispered, “The service here is awful!”

We carried on eating what we were given. When we were ready to leave, I smiled at the waitress and left her a twenty-euro tip.

“Are you nuts?” my friend asked, creasing her brows. “The service was ridiculous; why on Earth would you give her twenty euros?!”

I’d not given it much thought. Granted, the service was pretty abysmal. But it was a hell of a lot better than being stuck at home on my own eating a microwaved meal. We’d not set foot outside for three months. This café was a godsend.

And that waitress? I didn’t resent her. I genuinely felt for her.

That waitress was probably jobless for those three months that we were all locked down. All the restaurants and bars were shut down. As well as being painfully lonely like the rest of us, she probably had the added worry of where her next paycheck was going to come from. Maybe she had kids like me.

Then when she finally landed this job, she was told that she had to wear a mask over her nose and mouth for ten hours straight in an overcrowded, stuffy café. She could see the line of twenty people outside that she’d have to wait on straight after us. They were totally understaffed and all she could do was her very best to keep on top of the endless stream of requests . . . ​all the while living with the uncertainty as to whether she was going to lose her job, again, in the coming weeks.

So frankly, from that perspective, she was doing a helluva job. And maybe that tip, if nothing else, could buy her a well-deserved bottle of wine or a box of chocolates to unwind with that evening. Because if it wasn’t for people like her, working sporadically in hospitality during a global pandemic, we’d all go mad.

I explained all this to my friend. I got a polite nod of affirmation before we headed out into the rest of our day.

What I didn’t tell him is that that very same morning, I’d completed the 6 Phase Meditation. And it looked like Phase 1 had paid off.

That three-minute-long meditation had made me a less judgmental and more understanding person. The Buddhists would say I’d been injected with a shot of “loving-kindness”—the antidote to the human tendency of “attribution error.”

Fundamental Attribution Error: How We Misjudge Others and Make Excuses for Ourselves

You see, our brains are sneaky little self-glorifying devices that are precoded with this fundamental attribution error (an error that Phase 1 will free you from).

Let’s say you’re driving and somebody cuts you off on the highway. In your mind, you’ll immediately blame them. You’ll scream, “What a jerk!” (hopefully in your head, not out the window). In other words, you assume they have a character flaw: they’re rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, and selfish.

But when you’re the one who cuts someone off, in your head you’ll go, “Oh God, sorry, sorry, sorry!” Whether it was an accident or not, you’ll justify it. You’re still getting used to your new car. You were tired because you couldn’t sleep last night and you misjudged the space you had to overtake. You had to take your budgie to the vet. You had to get your daughter to school on time because it’s show-and-tell day and you didn’t want to let her down . . . ​fill in the blanks.

So when it’s someone else, it’s a character flaw. When it’s you, it’s just your unfortunate circumstances. You’re the gentle underdog of the story who just made a mistake.

I got called an asshole once.

I was twenty-four years old and I was running through an airport because I had literally four minutes to catch my flight to the most important conference of my life. I’d been working at the time for a nonprofit organization called AIESEC that focused on cultivating world peace. I got paid a pretty shitty salary, but its mission meant something to me, so I stayed. I’d chosen the cheapest flight I could to get to the conference, and lo and behold, they’d changed the time of my connecting flight.

So there I was, running as fast as I could, gasping for breath and desperately trying to lug my huge bag behind me. If I missed that flight, I didn’t know whether I could afford another, and I wasn’t about to charge a nonprofit for it. In my rush, I tripped over a guy’s suitcase. I got up and kept running, because every second counted.

As I soldiered on like a hero, I heard the words “YOU ABSOLUTE ASSHOLE!” resonate through the airport corridor.

It was the guy whose baggage I’d tripped over.

And this perturbed me big-time. I’m genuinely not an asshole. I’m a nice guy. It was just an accident. But admittedly if someone had booted my bag without apologizing, I’d have probably thought the same thing about them.