How To Build Your Positive Intelligence with PQ Reps



“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” – Unknown

Positive Intelligence, or “PQ”, is potentially the best predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential.

Positive Intelligence is effectively the backbone of your mental fitness.

Mental fitness is a measure of the strength of your positive mental muscles (Sage) versus the negative (Saboteur).

The goal of Positive Intelligence is to develop an alert and calm, better balanced, sensory aware, creative mindset.

In the book, Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine writes about doing 100 PQ reps a day to build your PQ Brain muscles.

The Sage and the Saboteurs (The Two Modes of Your Mind)

According to Shirzad, your mind has two modes: positive and negative.

Shirzad calls this positive mode, your Sage, and the negative mode, your Saboteurs.

Shirzad writes:

“A key to Mental Fitness is to weaken the internal Saboteurs who generate all your ‘negativity’  in the way they respond to challenges.

Your Saboteurs cause all your stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, regret, shame, guilt, and unhappiness. Saboteurs include the Judge, Controller, Avoider, Victim, Stickler and 5 others.

Your ‘Sage’  lives in an entirely different region of your brain and handles challenges in ways that produce positive emotions like curiosity, empathy, creativity, calm, and clear-headed laser-focused action.

You’d perform better and feel happier.”

Positive Intelligence Determines Your Potential

Your Positive Intelligence Quotient, or “PQ”, is a measure of what percentage of time your mind is on your side.  

Positive Intelligence might be one of the biggest factors for reaching your potential. 

When your mind is on your side, you flourish.  When your mind works against you, you flounder.

Shirzad writes:

“Your potential is determined by many factors, including your cognitive intelligence (IQ), your emotional intelligence (EQ), and your skills, knowledge, experience, and social network.

But it is your Positive intelligence (PQ) that determines what percentage of your vast potential you actually achieve.”

How to Strengthen Your Positive Intelligence

According to Shirzad, there are 3 key strategies to strengthen your Positive Intelligence.

  1. Weaken Saboteurs (the Saboteurs represent your internal enemies in your mind – the “negative” mode of your mind)
  2. Strengthen Sage (the Sage is your wiser and deeper you – the “positive” mode of your mind)
  3. Strengthen Your PQ Brain (by doing PQ Reps)

The beauty of practicing PQ Reps is that you can find ways to fit them in your day into all the things you already do.

You can use the PQ Reps as a deliberate and intentional way to face your daily challenges and setbacks from a better, stronger, and more resourceful place.

You can turn your mini-trials into trailblazing triumphs while building your Positive Intelligence and operating at a higher level.

Shirzad writes:

“There is a direct connection between the different regions and functions of the brain and whether you are in Saboteur or Sage mode. 

The Saboteurs are primarily fueled by regions of your brain that were initially focused on your physical or emotional survival.

We will call these regions your Survivor Brain.

The Sage is based on entirely different regions of the brain, which we’ll call your PQ Brain. 

This Saboteur-Sage-brain link results in three separate but related strategies to increase your PQ: 1) weaken your Saboteurs; 2) strengthen your Sage; and 3) strengthen your PQ Brain muscles.”

The Sage is the Deeper and Wiser You

The Sage, or “positive” mode of your mind, can help you realize your potential and find your happiness when you need it most.

Shirzad writes:

“If your Saboteurs represent your internal enemies, your Sage represents the deeper and wiser part of you.  It is the part of you that can rise above the gray and resist getting carried away by the drama and tension of the moment or falling victim to the lies of the Saboteurs.

It’s perspective on any challenge you are facing is that is is either already a gift and opportunity or could be actively turned into one.

It has access to the five great powers of your mind and taps into those powers to meet any challenge. 

These powers lie in regions of your brain that are different from the regions that fuel your Saboteur.

Strengthen the Sage by Practicing the 5 Great Powers

You can make the Sage inside you stronger by shifting to your Sage mode and practicing the five great powers of the Sage:

  1. Explore – to Explore with great curiosity and an open mind
  2. Empathize – to Empathize with yourself and others and bring compassion and understanding to any situation.
  3. Innovate – to Innovate and create new perspectives and outside-the-box solutions
  4. Navigate – to Navigate and choose a path that best aligns with your deeper underlying values and mission
  5. Activate – to Activate and take decisive action without the distress, interference, or distraction of the Saboteurs

To shift in to Sage mode, pay attention to when you get triggered or your Saboteurs are in control.

Catch yourself in moments where you feel stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, regret, shame, guilt, and unhappiness.

Use these moments to Explore, Empathize, Innovate, Navigate, and Activate to strengthen your Sage and realize your full potential.

Shirzad writes:

“You have a great reservoir of these powers within you, which often goes untapped.  I will also show you how absolutely every challenge in work and life can be met with the Sage, its perspectives, and its five powers.

If you use your Sage to overcome these challenges, you will be feeling Sage feelings of curiosity, compassion, creativity, joy, peace,  and grounded decisiveness even in the midst of great crisis

You will see for yourself that your Saboteurs are never necessary to meet any challenge, despite the lies they have been telling you to justify their own existence.”

5 Power Games to Boost Your 5 Sage Powers

Shirzad shares 5 Power Games to help you practice your 5 Sage Powers with skill:

  1. Visualize the Child (Empathize) – Visualize yourself as a child in a setting where your essence is shining through.
  2. Fascinated Anthropologist (Explore) – When you play the role of Fascinated Anthropologist, you become a keen observer and discoverer of what is, without trying to judge, change, or control the situation.
  3. Yes…And (Innovate) – To play “Yes…and…” follow every new idea you have by saying ‘Yes, what I love about that idea is…and…” With this approach, every idea is appreciated rather than judged before the next one is generated in reaction to it.
  4. Flash Forward (Navigate)  – When faced with the fork in the road, imagine yourself at the end of your life looking back at the choices you are now facing.   From that vantage point, what would you wish you had chose at this juncture?
  5. Preempt the Saboteurs  (Activate) – In this game, you put yourself in the shoes of your top Saboteurs and try to anticipate how they would try to sabotage your actions.  You would anticipate the thoughts they would be whispering or screaming in your ears in the middle of the action and what lies they would be using to justify those thoughts.

The Judge is Your Master Saboteur

Your Judge is the master Saboteur because it really sets the stage for the other nine Saboteurs.

The Judge is very primal and serves a purpose—to  make you safe.

The challenge is that safety and survival have evolved, while your Judge may be stuck in the past.

Shirzad writes:

“The Judge is the universal Saboteur, the one we all have: a predisposition to exaggerating the negative and assuming the worst is actually good for survival.

If you’re in the jungle and see the leaves in a nearby tree begin to shake, you would be better off assuming you are in grave danger, even though that assumption would be based on very little data.

This must be a tiger on it ways to eat you alive, and you’d better run or hide, you’d likely say to yourself.

It is true ninety-nine out of a hundred times, the Judge’s exaggerated negative bias would have proven wrong for one of our distant ancestors, but the one time it was right would have saved his or her life”

The Judge also helps us make sense of our life, even if it’s through a negative and exaggerated lens.

Shirzad writes:

“Each person’s Judge develops its own particular characteristics in response to that individual’s specific needs for survival.

We have a powerful psychological need for a mental construct that makes sense of our experience of life, and the Judge helps us fit all the pieces together.

The early life is still helpful in sorting out the world around us to create a coherent mental construct of our experience.”

The 10 Saboteurs that Work Against You

While the Judge is the master Saboteur, you need to get to know the rest of the gang that’s working against you.

Here are the 10 Saboteurs according to Shirzad:

  1. The Judge – Accomplishes its staggering destructive sabotage by having us feel negative and unhappy through constant faultfinding with 1) ourselves, 2) others, and 3) our circumstances.  Your Judge Saboteur is private enemy number one.  It impacts your well-being, success, and happiness far more than any public enemy ever could.
  2. Stickler – Perfectionism and a need for order and organization taken too far.
  3. Pleaser – Indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others.  Loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.
  4. Hyper-Achiever – Dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation.  Highly focused don external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.
  5. Victim – Acts emotional and temperamental as a way of gaining attention and affection.  An extreme focus on internal feelings, particularly painful ones.  Martyr streak.
  6. Hyper-Rational – Intense and exclusive focus on the rational processing of everything including relationships.  Can be perceived as cold, distant, and intellectually arrogant.
  7. Hyper-Vigilant – Continuous intense anxiety about all the dangers and  a strong focus on what could go wrong.  Vigilance that can never rest.
  8. Restless – Restless, constantly in search of greater excitement in the next activity or in constant business.  Rarely at peace or content with the current activity.
  9. Controller – Anxiety-based need to take charge and control situations, bending people’s actions to one’s own will.  Results in high anxiety and impatience when that is not possible.
  10. Avoider – A focus on the positive and pleasant in an extreme way.  An avoidance of difficult and unpleasant tasks and conflicts.

You may find that some Saboteurs affect you more than others. 
You may also find that you have a different set of Saboteurs at work than at home.

Weaken the Saboteurs by Observing and Labeling Them

Your Saboteurs will show up.  Don’t fight them.

Just observe and label them.

This will take their power away.

This will weaken your Saboteurs simply by bringing them into the light of awareness.

Shirzad writes:

“The key point about weakening your Saboteurs is that you shouldn’t fight them, at least not in the typical way we think of fighting.

If you were to get upset and angry when you saw your Stickler or Controller or Victim, guess what you would be doing?

You would be “judging’ your Saboteur, and in so doing you would be activating and strengthening  the ringleader of them all, the Judg.

The most effective strategy for weakening your Saboteurs is to simply observe and label them.

The author Eckhart Tolle uses an apt metaphor to describe this phenomenon. 

He says the “egoic mind,” which his collective term for all the Saboteurs is like a giant snowman that melts away under the light of conscious awareness.

The bulk of the work in weakening your Saboteurs is to expose them to the hot light of awareness by simply observing and labeling them when they show up.”

Create Names for Your Saboteurs

You can gamify and make your observing and labeling more fun by giving your Saboteurs more descriptive names.

Shirzad writes:

“To better observe and label your Saboteurs, it might be helpful to create more personalized descriptions and names for them.

For example, my name for my Judge is ‘the Executioner’ and my name for my Hyper-Rational is ‘Robot’. 

Others have called their Judge ‘Darth Vader,’ their Stickler “Anal Joe,’ their Controller ‘Drill Sergeant’, their Hyper-Achiever ‘Workaholic’, and their Victim ‘Martyr’. 

You get the picture.”

The 3 Parts of Your PQ Brain

According to Shirzad, your PQ Brain muscles are made up of three parts. 

The first part is the middle prefrontal cortext (MPFC).  The second part is what Shirzad calls the “Empathy Circuitry.”  The third part is the right brain.

According to Shirzad, the middle prefrontal cortex helps with several Positive Intelligence functions including “observing yourself, pausing before action, soothing fear, staying centered in the middle of challenging situations, and gut wisdom.”

The “Empathy Circuitry” are the parts of the brain that help you experience empathy with yourself and others, as well as tune into their emotions and energy.. 

The right brain helps with big picture and abstract thinking, non-verbal language, and mood.

Strengthen Your PQ Brain Muscles with PQ Reps

What if you could use your daily routines to build your Positive Intelligence?

What if these simple exercises could help sooth your anxiety, help you stay centered, and tap more of your mental powers and insights?

That’s the idea behind doing Positive Intelligence reps.

A PQ rep simply involves flexing your Positive Intelligence Brain “muscles.”  

Your Positive Intelligence Brain can help keep you centered, calm, cool, and collected. 

It also helps you get innovative and resourceful to better solve problems that come your way.

How To Perform a PQ Rep

To flex your Positive Intelligence Brain, you need to do Positive Intelligence Reps. 

You do a PQ Rep by shifting your focus to your body and any of your five senses for ten seconds.  

You five sense are:

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Smell
  4. Feel
  5. Taste

Shirzad writes:

“The PQ-Brain equivalent to lifting a dumbbell is very simple:  shift as much of your attention as you can to your body and any of your five senses for at least ten seconds. 

This is a PQ rep, just like the reps you do at the gym.  These simple steps require and therefore activate and energize your PQ Brain muscles. 

For example, commanding yourself to stop being lost in thought and instead become aware of your physical sensations requires the middle prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and right-brain parts of the PQ Brain.”

10 Seconds for Each PQ Rep (or 3 Breaths)

Keep in mind that each PQ rep is 10 seconds – or the equivalent of about three breaths.

To really internalize that, here is a quick example of how long it would take for a number of reps, where each rep is 10 seconds:

  • 1 Minute = 6 reps
  • 5 Minutes = 30 reps
  • 10 Minutes = 50 reps
  • 15 Minutes = 90 reps

But what happens if your mind wanders or if you struggle when you are trying to do your PQ reps?

Adjust for that.  Get into the habit of trying to count good PQ reps.

So if you spend 5 minutes, but your mind wanders, instead of 30 reps, let’s say you get 15 good PQ reps in.

Or lets say you spend 15 minutes, but your mind wanders about half the time, then count half the reps, so instead of 90 reps, let’s call it 45.

You get the idea.

Do 100 PQ Reps Every Day for Peak Mental Fitness

If you want to really build and maintain your Positive Intelligence, practice 100 PQ reps a day.

Shirzad writes:

“Many experts recommend taking at least ten thousand steps every day in order to remain physically healthy.  (This equates to walking approximately five miles).

The PQ Brain equivalent is doing 100 PQ reps every day. 

In other words, shift as much of your attention as you can onto your body and any of your five senses for at least ten seconds one hundred times a day.

You don’t need to worry about keeping exact time—ten seconds is the equivalent of about three breaths.”

Do 100 PQ Reps for 21 Days for Profound Transformation

The key to building your PQ prowess is to get 100 PQ reps in each day, for 21 days.  

Shirzad writes:

“I have never worked with anyone who has done 100 PQ reps consistently for twenty-one consecutive days and not experienced substantial and often life-changing improvements in their life. 

For your sake, and the sake of your colleagues, your team, and your loved ones, I hope you will choose to do the same.”

How To Get Your PQ Reps In During Your Day

You can get your PQ Reps in throughout the day. 

You can also get your reps in during your daily activities, whether it’s brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, or eating a meal. 

It’s about getting out of your head and back into your senses to better balance your rational mind and stay centered. 

Shirzad shares a few examples how to get your PQ Reps in during your day:

  • Daily Routines – You can turn many of your current daily routines into PQ muscle-builders.  Next time you brush your teeth see if you can become laser-focused on one physical sensation of brushing for a minimum of ten seconds.  For example, really feel the vibrations of the brush’s bristles against your teeth and bums, smell the toothpaste, feel the bubbles of toothpaste foam bursting in your mouth.
  • Physical exercise – You can also turn your current physical exercise into an opportunity to do many PQ reps.
  • Eating – The pleasure of eating can be significantly enhanced while also exercising your PQ brain.
  • Listening to music – Next time you are listening to a piece of music, zone in rather than zone out.  See if you can spend at least a couple of minutes in full mindfulness of the music.  For example, pick one instrument and pay close attention to the sounds it makes. 
  • Playing sports – Next time you play a sport, make a point of paying close attention to the sensations of your weight on your feet, the breeze on your face, grip on the club or racket, your foot against the ball.  Pay close attention to both watching the ball’s spin and feeling the impact.  Actively let go of thoughts as they come and sink into a deeper and deeper body wisdom that is only possible with PQ Brain activation.  This is what happens when athletes report getting into “the zone,” where their effortless exertion becomes effortless and flows.

A great time to practice your PQ reps is whenever you catch yourself in a negative thinking pattern. 

Shirzad writes:

“Say you are driving to work and you suddenly think, this meeting could go really badly, and then I’ll be in real trouble. 

Since you have studied the characteristics of your Judge, you instantly recognize that as a Judge thought.

You label it, thinking to yourself, there goes the Judge. 

Catching your Judge reminds you to get a few reps in

So now you shift your attention to feeling your physical sensations for the new few breaths. 

You feel the weight of your body on your seat for several breaths.  That’s two reps.”

Raise Your PQ and Realize Your Potential

What can I say–I like the approach. 

I like it because it’s easy to integrate into daily routines.  

I especially like the idea of working our empathy muscles in a very natural way.

I also like the fact that it’s a specific daily goal that’s easy to measure, with immediate results. 

It’s a great way to be more present, even in the thick of things, or when life throws its best curve balls our way.

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  1. Love this exercise! I’m curious – it’s been several months since you wrote this post. Did you do it consistently for 21 days. If so, what where the changes that you noticed?

  2. @ Bob — The most obvious change is the quick ability to center myself. It’s a fast way to go from “fight or flight” mode back to a rationale mind … and at the same time, a fast way to invoke more right-brained abilities, such as creative insight.

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