Beliefs, or what we think will happen, can actually change the results of our efforts. The human brain has the ability to predict what will happen next. The “expectancy theory” explains that our expectations of an event create brain patterns that can be just as real as the actual event. This is why many athletes use visualizations techniques for “making the last second shot” or “throwing the game winning touchdown”.
Creating these scenarios in our minds will actually help when the real even takes place. Even more interesting than visualization, changing our beliefs towards common everyday activities can also change the results of that activity.
Beliefs and Expectancy Theory
Read the following excerpt from Shawn Achor in his book titled “The Happiness Advantage”:
“In one [study] conducted a few years ago, Ali Crum, one of my former students and now research colleague from Yale University, teamed up with Ellen Langer to perform an experiment on the cleaning staff of seven different hotels. They told half of the employees how much exercise they were getting every day through their work, how many calories their daily activities burned, how similar vacuuming is to a cardio workout, and so on. The other half of the cleaning staff, as the control group, was given no such good news.
At the end of the experiment, several weeks later, Crum and Langer found that those who had been primed to think of their work as exercise had actually lost weight; not only that, but their cholesterol had also dropped. These individuals had not done any more work, nor had they exercised any more than the control group. The only difference was in how their brains conceived of the work they were doing.”
Believing in a specific outcome helps prime our brain for that outcome. This is why controlling our thoughts are vital to our health and happiness. If we go through life expecting the worst, or brains will guide us there. However, if we prime our thoughts towards health and happiness, the sky is the limit.
Dr Spencer Charlet
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