An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything
by Chris Hadfield | Back Bay Books © 2015 · 320 pages

Chris Hadfield is the super cool guitar-strumming Canadian astronaut who served as Commander of the International Space Station. This is his guide to life on Earth. It’s awesome. Big Ideas we explore include the power of negative thinking, why we need to sweat the small stuff, creating deep love time blocks and finishing strong.

It takes years of serious, sustained effort, because you need to build a new knowledge base, develop your physical capabilities and dramatically expand your technical set. But the most important thing you need to change? Your mind. You need to learn to think like an astronaut. I was just getting started
Chris Hadfield

“See, a funny thing happened on the way to space: I learned how to live better and more happily here on Earth. Over time, I learned how to anticipate problems in order to prevent them, and how to respond effectively in critical situations. I learned how to neutralize fear, how to stay focused and how to succeed.

And many of the techniques I learned were fairly simple though counterintuitive—crisp inversions of snappy aphorisms, in some cases. Astronauts are taught that the best way to reduce stress is to sweat the small stuff. We’re trained to look on the dark side and to imagine the worst things that could possibly happen. In fact, in simulators, one of the most common questions we learn to ask ourselves is, ‘Okay, what’s the next thing that will kill me?’ …

The upshot of all this is that we become competent, which is the most important quality to have if you’re an astronaut—or, frankly, anyone, anywhere, who is striving to succeed at anything at all. Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything.

Astronauts have these qualities not because we’re smarter than everyone else… It’s because we are taught to view the world—and ourselves—differently. My shorthand for it is ‘thinking like an astronaut.’ But you don’t have to go to space to learn to do that.

It’s mostly a matter of changing your perspective.”

~ Chris Hadfield from An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

After reading Adam Steltzner’s great book The Right Kind of Crazy about his incredible experience landing a rover on Mars, I decided to stay in deep space and read this book.

I’m glad I did. It’s awesome.

You might know Chris Hadfield as the guitar strumming astronaut in outer space—if you haven’t watched this astonishing video of him singing a revised edition of Space Oddity while aboard the International Space Station, check it out!

Easiest way to describe the book is to imagine how cool Chris must be to create THAT video and then imagine how cool a book of his would be. That’s this book.

As the sub-title suggests, it’s all about what going to space taught him about ingenuity, determination, and being prepared for anything. It’s a wise, witty, humble and fun look at how to rock it on Earth. (Get the book here.)

It’s also packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to explore some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Chris Hadfield

Canadian Astronaut, back on Earth after living aboard ISS as Commander of Expedition 35.