We Get What We Expect to Get ~ Part 1

Belief Creates the Actual Fact in Nearly Everything

Why it works

Why it works

Wishing on a star, rubbing a rabbit’s foot, crossing your fingers, or knocking on wood, all have one thing in common—the power of suggestion. The magic you imagine in the bones and fur of the rabbit’s foot makes you feel lucky and hopeful, which invites into your mind the anticipation that an outcome you desire could actually happen. The scientific evidence suggests that your anticipation mobilizes vast inner resources and directs those resources toward fulfilling your desire. Irving Kirsch of Harvard Medical School and Maryanne Garry of Victoria University of Wellington teamed up to review the most recent and intriguing effects of the power of suggestion on cognition and behavior.[1] The evidence shows that once you anticipate that a desired outcome could happen, you set in motion a chain of thoughts and actions that work together to actually make it happen. “The effects of suggestion,” Dr. Garry states, “are wider and often more surprising than many people might otherwise think. If we can harness the power of suggestion,” Garry concludes, “we can improve people’s lives.”[2] Learning to tap this power moves into the higher stages of human potential, and the good news is that tapping this potential couldn’t be simpler (I’ll show you one approach at the end of the article).

The power of suggestion appears to be at the center of why some people succeed at school, business, or athletics while others fail, and why some people’s illness or pain resolves and others’ gets worse. Believing you are limited or blocked in some way drives the limitation. The great martial artist Bruce Lee said, “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must go beyond them.[3] Our very thoughts are capable of extending mental and physical limits we tend to accept. It appears that the limits we perceive are not necessarily set by nature, but by our own mental attitude.

Most of what we know about the power of suggestions comes from the placebo effect, which describes real psychological and physiological changes that occur when the mind has been convinced to expect a therapeutic effect from a substance that is inert. In itself, the placebo does nothing; it’s the mind that generates the beneficial effect. While much of the research on the placebo effect has focused on alleviating pain, there is growing evidence that the placebo effect is multi-dimensional.  One such study relates to prospective memory. Prospective memory is how the brain remembers details or events that are to occur in the future. It gets us to appointments on time, helps us pay our bills when they are due, enables us to follow instructions, anticipates the next steps in a plan, and reminds us to take medication on time. Chronic stress debilitates prospective memory and researchers wanted to see if it was possible to enhance memory with a placebo.[4] They convinced subjects that a placebo they’d been given was a powerful “smart drug” that improved cognitive function and memory. In truth, the so-called smart drug was nothing more than a vitamin C drink. One group received the placebo and one group was given nothing at all. Then the researchers put both groups through a high-effort prospective memory task. Prospective memory improved in the group that had ingested the placebo, while the group that didn’t receive the placebo showed no improvement.

Perhaps nothing has turned our limited view of human potential on its head more than the research of Ellen Langer of Harvard University. Her research validates what William James, the father of American psychology, concluded about the power of belief more than a hundred years ago. James concluded that we can change anything if we believe we can; that belief creates the actual fact.[5] Langer’s most famous study showed this holds true even with the aging process. Our mental attitude can turn back the hands of Time, reversing the effects of aging. In 1979, Langer conducted an experiment with men in their late seventies, early eighties, who were languishing in nursing homes.[6] She took the men out of the nursing homes and to a retreat center where the men were asked to mentally put themselves back in time twenty years, to 1959. They wore clothes that were fashionable in 1959, ate the food they ate then, carried photo IDs of how they looked, read newspapers and magazines, and watched films, television programs, and discussed sporting events, all from that year. Their assignment was not merely to reminisce about bygone days,” Langer said, “but to make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 22 years before.”

The elders did just that. “They put their mind in an earlier time,” Langer said, “and their bodies went along for the ride.”[7]  The results were astonishing. Langer’s time travelers showed greater improvements in blood pressure, joint flexibility and manual dexterity, and incredibly, their arthritis began to retreat. These were men who previously couldn’t bend over far enough to tie their own shoes, but their prowess improved so much that at one point they engaged in a touch-football game. Their IQs even improved and when they returned to real time, their families were astounded at how much younger they looked. The results defied belief. “It sounded like Lourdes,” Langer said.[8]  The mind can become Lourdes, or it can become a bed on a geriatric ward. Langer’s study shows that even aging is nothing but a mindset.

… Continue on to Part 2 of this article

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[1] R. B. Michael, M. Garry, and I. Kirsch, Suggestion, Cognition, and Behavior, Current Directions in Psychological Science 21, no. 3 (2012): 151–56.
[2] The Power of Suggestion: What We Expect Influences Our Behavior, for Better or Worse, News, Association for Psychological Science, June 6, 2012
[3] Robert Pagliarini, Meet Bruce Lee, Personal Growth Guru, CBS/MoneyWatch, August 27, 2012,  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/meet-bruce-lee-personal-growth-guru/
[4] Sophie Parker et al., A Sham Drug Improves a Demanding Prospective Memory Task, Memory, 19, no. 6 (August 2011): 606–12.
[5] William James, The Principles of Psychology, Volume 2, Macmillan, 1891, pgs. 288-297
[6] Ellen J. Langer, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility (New York: Random House, 2009), 5–12. [
7] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html?_r=0
[8] Ibid

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We Get What We Expect to Get ~ Part 2

Belief Creates the Actual Fact in Nearly Everything

Langer also conducted a study with maids who clean hotel rooms.[9] These workers wereRoberto Weigand with attribute copy typically assigned fifteen rooms a day and spent half an hour cleaning each room. The task expends a physical effort that exceeds the level of daily exercise the Surgeon General prescribes. But the workers thought their job didn’t qualify as exercise, and since they were too tired at the end of their shift to go to the gym, they believed they weren’t getting the kind of exercise that burned calories or made them fit. Dr. Langer divided the hotel workers into two groups. In one group, she reinforced the mind-set that the physical exertion in their job achieved the recommended level for physical fitness. The second group was not given this information. After four weeks, without any change in diet or activity, people in the first group lost weight. Their body fat dropped, and even their blood pressure improved by 10 points. The only thing that had changed was the group’s mind-set. There was no improvement in the second group.

It may be hard to believe that a change in mind-set could actually improve eyesight as bad as 20/70 or even 20/160, yet in one study it did.[10]  It makes one wonder if we’re all wearing mental blinders. In his memoir, Thomas Merton gets to the heart of the problem, when he wrote: “Perhaps I am stronger than I think. Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak.”[11]

The strength Merton is referring to is as near to you as your own thoughts. Years ago, I knew a young man who, in his mid- twenties, was diagnosed with stage-2 adult Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His oncologist told him that he had 10 percent chance of surviving, which is virtually a death sentence. Yet my friend had misheard the doctor and he left the clinic thinking he’d been told him he had 10 percent chance of dying. During the course of his treatment, his mind-set was built on the anticipation that every step of his medical care was achieving the highly favorable result of complete remission, which is exactly what happened. It wasn’t until his case was presented during hospital grand rounds by his oncologist that he learned he’d misunderstood. He said that if he’d heard his oncologist’s prediction correctly, he would have died. He was absolutely certain that the mindset his misperception produced saved his life.

The Reshaping Reality Tool

The evidence is there and the proof is mounting that your mind can reshape your reality to align with your wishes. Harness this power and you become the master of your fate. There is a simple tool called Reshaping Reality that can generate the anticipation of the wealth, health, and love we all seek. Use this tool on a daily basis to amplify your expectancy for achieving your goals, and see what happens. You can play the recording of Don Joseph Goewey guiding you through this process by pressing the button below:

Play-Button

  • Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  • Select a current goal and state to yourself the outcome you wish to achieve. Imagine this outcome as you want it to happen. Pretend that it has already come to pass, and see your life as it would exist at that moment. Let go of all restraints on your thinking. Tell yourself it’s all right to imagine anything, regardless of whether you think it’s probable or even possible.
  • Involve the sensory parts of your brain. Hear the sounds that are present when the outcome is realized. Smell the air and feel the temperature in the environment. Picture what you will see. Now see into the periphery of the picture. What elements of life are around you? Who is with you? Make the colors and elements of your imagined outcome vivid. If people are present, what are they saying to you? What are you saying to them?
  • As you continue to experience the picture you have created, feel the feelings you imagine will overcome you when this outcome is realized. Do you feel joy? Do you feel satisfaction? Do you feel relief from pain or fear? And as you imagine the feelings you will have, bring them close and actually feel them as if they are your experience, right here, right now. Make these desired feelings as strong as you can. If you are happy, allow them to place a smile on your face or make you laugh out loud. If you are relieved, let the relief lift your spirits. Let the emotions become real. Sustain these desired emotions for as long as you can, up to no more than a minute.
  • Then let everything go. Let go of the emotions and let go of the picture.
  • You have now primed your thinking and emotional centers to lock your internal guidance system on your desired outcome. Believe it.

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[9] Alia J. Crum and Ellen J. Langer, “Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect,” Psychological Science 18, no. 2 (2007): 165–71.

[10] Believing Is Seeing: How Mindset Can Improve Vision, Association for Psychological Science, April 9, 2010, http://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2010/langer.cfm.

[11] Thomas Merton, The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, ed. Patrick Hart and Jonathan Montaldo (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 161.

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My Perfect Storm of Stress

Perfect Storm of StressTruthfully, I never would have had the insight and understanding that led to me to write my new book, The End of Stress, if thirty years ago I hadn’t experienced a perfect storm of stress. That storm should have taken me down, either by killing me, or leaving me seriously disabled and unable to support my family.

Ironically, it did the opposite. It propelled my life forward.

The catalyst for my perfect storm of stress was being fired from a job I’d spent years climbing the ladder to reach and then nine days later being diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was married with four small children and the doctors told me to prepare for the worst. I had to wait six weeks for the surgery and I spent the first two weeks terrified, pacing the floor every night, afraid I’d never work again and that my family would end up homeless.

Then one fateful night I reached a point where I questioned which was worse: the dire problems that could happen to me in the future, or the abject fear that was happening to me every day. It was obvious that fear was the worst part of what I was going through as I awaited the fateful surgery. I had enough sense to realize the simple truth that peace was a far better experience than a constant state of mental terror.

I made the decision, right then and there, to approach the surgery with a peacefulbest-day-with=book-cover-canstockphoto19191645 copy attitude. But how? The only way I could think to be more peaceful was to challenge my fear, simply by refusing to believe any of my fearful thoughts that predicted a horrible outcome.  When I became frightened, I would ask myself, what does my experience become when I don’t believe this fearful thought? I learned this approach from Carl Rogers, the great American psychologist, and I’d used it with other people but never on myself.

To my great relief, it worked. The more I practiced challenging my fears in this way, the more it worked and the easier it became. Eventually, I could shift a fearful thought or perception at will. The way the shift happened was at first I would feel relief to be out of fear, which relaxed into the clarity of being calm, which eventually opened to an expanded state of peace. It was like crossing troubled waters and reaching safety on the opposite shore, all in a matter of moments.

The surgery was a complete success, sparing me a life of disability and I even got a better job. It was clear to me that my change in attitude from fear to peace produced the good outcome. There is now a mountain of research that has established that our mental state is everything. Make no mistake, a positive, peaceful state of mind is the key to the health, success, and love we all desire.  My perfect storm of stress taught me to make peace the first thing I attend to, as I face each new day.

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The Genome to Health, Wealth, and Love

Being Well and Doing Well on the Way to Flourishing

(Huffington Post)

There are people in the world who, outwardly, seem to be doing quite well, and yet inwardly are living an unhappy life encumbered by stress, www.canstockphoto19191645health problems, and family dysfunction. Conversely, there are people who are far from wealthy, yet they’re joyful, at peace, and buoyed by the love they give and receive.

Then there’s those I call the Lucky Few who are living the Good Life, which is a life of being well and doing well on the way to flourishing.  These folks have managed to secure the wealth, health, and love we all desire.

Was it good luck that bestows these blessings or something else that the rest of us have failed to see?

Well, science researched this very question and discovered three essential factors that combine to either thwart or support your efforts to achieve the Good Life. It turns out that the first two factors actually relate to luck, but the third factor is the one that makes the biggest impact. It can turn bad luck into good, propelling you into the Good Life, and it’s completely under your control.

1. The first factor that determines your quality of life is genetics. This relates to the Happiness Pie Three Factorstype of stress gene you inherit, and it accounts for 50% of why you are either flourishing, or stressed and struggling.

If you’re lucky and the stress gene you inherited is turned-down low, your brain is more likely to maximize the analytical, emotional, and social intelligence that enables you to move through life’s ups and downs in a creative manner, and progress forward toward achieving your goals.

Conversely, if the stress gene is turned up high (as it is with many Millennials and Gen Xers), you’re more likely to over-react to stressors, struggle with negative emotions, and effort against periodic drops in your IQ caused by stress hormones. This leads to making bad decisions, the likelihood of marital problems and financial distress, an inability to sustain peak performance, and susceptibility to a long list of stress-related health problems.

2. The second factor in determining whether you live a life of stress or a happy, rewarding life is your circumstances, meaning your financial situation, your job, the condition of your health, and the quality of your close relationships.  But research has found that circumstances only account for 10% of what raises or lowers your quality of life. The famous Brickman study of lottery winners and people paralyzed in traumatic accidents substantiated this. The study found that ultimately people who won the lottery were not happier because of their good fortune, and people who became paralyzed were not unhappier because of their misfortune.

In as little as three months, the elation of lottery winners disappeared as they grew accustomed to being wealthy. Equally, the initial shock and despair paraplegics felt eventually resolved as they adjusted to their injury. Similar research found that the blind, the retarded, and the malformed are no less happy than other people.

Yet most people still believe that a change in circumstances is what will put an end to a stressful, disappointing, and unhappy life, despite the research that shows it doesn’t make a big difference.

3. The change that makes the biggest difference is a change in our attitude. Happiness Pie  Change in AttitudeThis was shown in the study of paraplegics I cited above. Their misfortune challenged them to elevate their attitude, and as a result they began to experience more joy from life’s simple, every day pleasures. It turns out that attitude accounts for 40% of what either perpetuates a stressful existence or actualizes a higher quality of mind that empowers a higher quality of life.  How?

A positive shift in attitude turns down the volume on your stress gene,  elevating the brain function that maximizes IQ, increases the capacity to learn, stimulates the creative insight that solves problems, and resets the brain’s emotional set point to positive, inspiring the optimism that fuels your passion.

A positive shift in attitude can produce an exponential shift in all three factors, changing the odds in your favor. You’re now 90 percent in charge of your life. When the stress gene stops working against you, your brain starts working for you, applying your full measure of intelligence toward achieving the Good Life.

Science has provided a number of proven methods that strengthen our capacity to relate to life through a calmer, more creative, more optimistic attitude.  In my new book, The End of Stress, I’ve organized twenty of these approaches into a program that can open the way to a higher quality of life.  Or attend the 4-part live webinar that begins April 28th.one-star-roberto-weigand

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America’s #1 Stressor (Money) and How to Overcome It

Money is the #1 worry for Americans, according to the Stress in America survey released by the American Psychological Association. And here’s the problem with stressing over money. Financial stress not only means you’re short on money, it also means you’re short on the brain power you  need to resolve money problems.

The stress from worrying about money can lower your IQ by 40 percent. That’s nearly half your smarts, which means you’ll lack the cognitive and creative capacity to not only resolve your current lack of cash, but also to carry out a plan to lift you out of debt and scarcity.

Compounding matters is that people with diminished IQs tend to be less happy and in poorer health. Thus, your attitude is likely to be pessimistic, your energy low, and the brain circuits in charge of creative problem-solving switched off. Your stressed brain locks into a vicious stress loop, making you perform the same unproductive things over and over, instead of coming up with a better idea, which is why you never seem to get ahead.

But don’t stress.

YOU CAN CHANGE THIS PICTURE

You can recover the brain power to move your life forward, even in the midst of a cash flow crisis.  Raising your credit score starts with lowering your stress level, and it’s simpler than you might imagine.  Abraham Lincoln said, Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.

Consider Ursula Burns. She was raised by her single mother in a housing project on the Lower East Side, back when the Lower East Side was an impoverished neighborhood with a scarcity of opportunity to advance. Ursula and her mother didn’t let the lack of money dampen their attitude or vision.  Her mother ironed shirts to put Ursula through college, and Ursula kept her eye on the prize. She is now the CEO and chairwoman of Xerox, and the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 Company.

The journey from the poverty of the Lower East Side to the boardroom was not launched and propelled along by a stressed brain losing IQ. It was fueled by a can-do attitude. Ursula Burns says, The best way to change it is to do it … And then after a while you become it, and it’s easy.

THREE SIMPLE TOOLS

Taking the stress out of a financial problem is so simple you might initially think it couldn’t possibly work.  Research proves otherwise.  Click here for the three things you can do to make the change.

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