February Brainstorm


1: What are you feeding your brain?

Many self-development experts have emphasized the importance of not clogging your brain with a steady diet of bad news, especially about situations over which you have no control.

A study suggests negativity may influence not only your mood but also your intellect. As reported in the Journal of Gerontoloty, elderly people scored twenty to thirty percent worse on memory tests after reading a pessimistic article about aging and memory than those who read a positive article about getting older.

ACTION: What is the tone of most of your reading, especially about matters that concern you personally? If what you're reading is predominently critical or negative, it might be time for a change.

2: Bending Minds, Not Spoons
Tricksters like Uri Geller use various means to make it look like spoons are bending by themselves, but a recent study shows the role the power of suggestion plays in such situations. One group of students watched a video of a performer apparently using the power of his mind to bend a spoon, which he then put down on a table. Half the students also heard the performer suggesting that the spoon will continue to bend while on the table (which it didn't). Afterwards, 40 percent of this group said they had seen the spoon continue to bend; only five percent of those who didn't hear that statement claimed to have seen it continue.

ACTION: This is a case of the power of suggestion being stronger than the reality. It's a great example of how influential a simple sentence can be. If you are involved in influencing people, and all of us are, one way or another, it's worth considering how to (ethically) use such power. You might wish to forward this e-bulletin to at least one friend or colleague who might enjoy learning to use this power, too.

3: How You Distort Time - and How to Stop
According to a study by North Carolina researchers Drs. Zauberman and Lynch, people are much less accurate at predicting how much time they'll have in the future than predicting how much money they'll have.

Generally, we tend to overestimate the amount of time we'll have, leading us to over-commit. Then we find that we have promised our time to so many people that we can't get it all done. Result: stress, late nights, loss of balance in our lives.

One key aspect of this is that we tend to forget to factor in all the things that can go wrong - the computer freezing up, the flight delays, the appointment that keeps getting postponed, the family crisis that needs to be dealt with.

ACTION: Whenever you estimate how long a project will take, factor in at least an additional 25 percent for the unknown. Draw actual blocks of time on your calendar for each project, and before you commit to something new, check to make sure there are enough blocks of free time left for you to achieve it.

4: The Name of the Game
In a study using games to find out whether people use logic or emotion in making economic decisions, Robert J. Shiller, author of "The New Financial Order," found that even the name of the game makes a difference.

He reports on an experiment in which one group played the "Community Game," while the other group played "The Wall Street Game." The games were actually exactly the same other than their titles, but those who played "The Community Game" played more cooperatively than those playing "The Wall St. Game."

ACTION: Take some time to look at your written communications and even the name of your business. What kind of expectations may you be arousing without even knowing it? What might be worth changing in order to create the impression and the expectations you want?

5: Playing With Procrastination
NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) expert Elizabeth Payea-Butler suggests a technique that can help you to do things you have been putting off.

Begin by thinking about the positive outcomes, the good results you hope to have when you have done the project or task. Check whether you have a strong visual image of the outcome--in other words can you picture success at this task? Next check whether you have a strong auditory sense of success in the task - for instance, can you imagine hearing people praising you for your achievement? Then check whether you have a strong emotional / kinesthetic sense of success - what will it feel like to have succeeded?

Here's an example: if I want to motivate myself to work on my novel, I might imagine seeing the title on the best-seller list, and hear a reviewer on the radio raving about it, and feel a sense of pride and enjoyment swelling in my chest as I write the book's final paragraph.

ACTION: Try this with something you've been putting off. If any of the three areas are weak, build them up. If you have no auditory sense about the task, for example, imagine someone praising you for doing it, or imagine hearing a triumphant theme tune playing when you're done. Then check how you feel now about doing this task. You may find you're ready to make it happen.

6: The Power of Quotes
This tip also comes from the world of NLP, and it has to do with the difference in the way people process information when it is a direct statement, compared to when it is clothed in a quote.

Here's an example: If you're not in control of your time, you're wasting your time.

How did that statement strike you? Some people would find it very confrontational, they would bristle at what sounds like an accusation: You're wasting your time!

Now read this version: Someone once said, "If you're not in control of your time, you're wasting your time." How did you react to that version? For many people, it comes across much more softly, as an idea to consider, rather than an accusation. By making it more palatable, you're more likely to get them to actually think about whether or not it applies to them, without triggering hostility.

ACTION: Consider whether there may be times when it would be useful to clothe a thought in a quote. You don't have to name the person who said it, it can be "someone." Maybe you can find somewhere in this bulletin where I've used this technique myself...

7: And a Real Quote to Consider
"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."- Winston Churchill

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".