You've heard it before, you may have even seen it attached by a magnet to your friend's sister's fridge: 'Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny', a well-known quote attributed to a 19th-century cowboy, Frank Jackson. What a wise cowboy Frank Jackson was. Your thoughts can determine how much you achieve, what you attempt and what you don't, whether you reach success or not and science has the answer to 'how?' We are going to take a look at the science behind how your thoughts can become reality.
Pt. 3 in our 3 part series 'From Science'
HOW DO OUR THOUGHTS BECOME REALITY?
To put it simply, our thoughts can become reality because as humans, we like to be right. Even the least stubborn, like to be right too. Psychologists call this 'confirmation bias'. Confirmation bias explains that we are prone to believe what we want to believe. You tried to call your friend 3 times last week between Monday and Wednesday, you emailed him twice on Friday and even resorted to Facebook messenger by Saturday. You've come to the conclusion that your friend is avoiding you. If you leave this belief unchecked, you will begin to act as if it was true. Your friend is not, in fact, ignoring you at all.
Confirmation bias suggests that once we have formed a view, we seek for evidence that backs it up. Any evidence, on the contrary, we conveniently don't see. This explains why prejudices are so hard to budge; we don't perceive information objectively but rather we pick and choose that which confirms our prejudices.
How does this apply to our thoughts becoming reality? Because our thoughts about ourselves become beliefs about ourselves, beliefs like “I could never start my own company, I'm not intelligent enough to apply for that job, I'm too X to meet the perfect person for me, I'm not patient enough to learn a new language”, insert your own beliefs here. Based on what we've just heard about confirmation bias, you look for evidence that supports your belief and discount anything that contradicts it. Someone that develops the belief that he is not capable of starting his own company will see every mistake as evidence that he is, indeed, not capable of starting his own company. When something goes right? 'Luck!' he exclaims.
3 INTERESTING CASE STUDIES SHOWING JUST HOW POWERFUL OUR THOUGHTS ARE
1. HOTEL ROOM ATTENDANTS
The message: Changing our thoughts about our physical activity seems capable of changing our bodies.
In 2007, Alia Crum and Ellen Langer carried out an experiment with hotel room attendants. Hotel room attendants clean, on average, 15 rooms a day and they take 20-30 minutes on each. This means that most hotel attendants get in the 30 minute of exercise a day recommendation. However, most hotel room attendants believe they don't get enough exercise if any at all. Crum and Langer told a treatment group of hotel attendants that they did the recommended daily amount of exercise. They also told a control group of hotel attendants that they did not. After 4 weeks, people in the treatment group lost weight: their body fat percentages, waist-to-hip ratio, and blood pressures all dropped. There was no improvement in the control group. The improvements happened despite the amount of work, diet, and exercise outside of work all remaining the same throughout those 4 weeks.
2. FOREVER YOUNG
The message: When you believe something will affect you in a particular way, if often does.
In 1979, Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard, carried out a radical experiment with results that showed many aging effects could be slowed if the person simply thought of themselves as being younger. In the experiment, she recreated the world of 1959 and asked the subjects (who were in their 70s) to live as if they were 20 years younger. They were to discuss historical events as if they were present events, no one was to help them carry bags up the stairs, and they were to wear fashionable clothing from 20 years ago. The control group, on the other hand, continued living as they currently were while simply reminiscing on earlier, and younger, times. After 1 week of living like this, 63% of the experimental group had better intelligence test scores, compared to 44% for the control group. Four independent volunteers were also asked to compare before and after the experiment photos of the experimental group. The volunteers said that the after photos seemed to them to look 2 years younger than the before photos. Men, who previously seemed weak and frail, even struck up an impromptu touch football match!
The message: Your beliefs affect your capability.
In 2008, Antonella Pollo carried out an experiment to find out whether thinking you have consumed caffeine affects your output. Pollo asked people to lift a weight before and after drinking a high dose of caffeine. The drink actually contained no caffeine at all but rather the weight was secretly reduced after people drunk it. That way, the volunteers associated the liquid with less fatigue. Later, when the volunteers lifted the original weight after drinking the (caffeine-free) liquid, they experienced less fatigue than when they lifted the weight.
We hope we have convinced you; your thoughts are capable of extending your cognitive and physical abilities. By deciding what you think about yourself and the world around you, you can have a huge impact on what you can achieve. We believe you are capable of anything you set your mind to and that is why we are here to support you wherever, and whenever, you may need it. At OneCoWork, we have weekly yoga classes, amongst many other activities, with a focus on calming and harnessing your thoughts. Sign up for this week's yoga class on our website. You shouldn’t miss it!
If yoga's not your thing, get in contact with one of our Community Managers who would love to connect you with one of our life coaches that we are fortunate enough to have as OneCoWork members. They are fully trained in helping guide you towards healthy and productive thought processes. The world is your oyster!