Dec 5, 2011


How powerful is positive thinking?

I read two things this year that have me wondering... The first is from Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything (pdf):

"You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 x 10^18 joules of potential energy - enough to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point. We’re just not very good at taking it out."

OK? So think of that next time you're tired.

The other was from an Aaron Rodgers interview on the reasons behind his meteoric rise as an NFL quarterback:
"An inch one way or the other and it might be a totally different outcome in the Super Bowl. Afterward, everybody was like, 'How did that happen?' But that's a play we've worked on for years. Years. That's where all this comes from - to be able to step into that throw, with seven minutes left in the Super Bowl, up by less than a touchdown, knowing it's third down and you have to make a play. I've thrown that ball to Greg, that same exact ball, 100 times in practice. Same exact route. So when I break the huddle, that's what's flashing in my mind. I've completed this throw in my mind 1,000 times before the ball even leaves my hand."

OK? So both of these passages startle me. I keep re-reading them over and over. I look at my hands and visualize this obscene amount of power locked in a white orb of light... Then I eat the orb. No matter how good I feel when I roll out of bed in the morning, I have not figured out how to use most of that power, but when I watch Rodgers play the game at a mind-bending level on Sundays, I wonder if he has somehow unlocked his orb. It seems like he is living a half-second in the future from everyone else on the field sometimes. So maybe there is something to this visualization he is talking about. 

I started digging around (not too deep!) and there's a story on Wikipedia about how the Soviets got the best results from their Olympic athletes when they used a 75/25 blend of mental-to-physical training. OK? The hockey player that spent 75-percent of his time training mentally was superior to his comrade who spent all of his training time skating and pumping iron. The story is cited from a book about karate, so I'll say it's 75-percent legit and move along to the money quote: "The Soviets had discovered that mental images can act as a prelude to muscular impulses." Awesome.

So I'm giving this a try lately, trying to unlock my white orb in everything I do. Yet the combination of jogging and dancing in the same weekend gave me sore legs! I still have this knack for drinking more beer than I really need. Sleeping in remains a guilty pleasure.

At the very least I am learning a lot about the New Thought Movement tonight, which includes kooky things like animal magnetism and metaphysical beliefs like the law of attraction. And of course there are books written about those topics and I'm getting too far from the main point. I am interested in the ability of the mind to influence future events, certainly, but maybe I'll get to that after dinner. On one hand I am certain that each and every choice matters (see last week's post), and that positive thinking really can make a difference, but...

The thing is: Life continues to startle me... And I like that. No matter how much you visualize, no matter how much you prepare, life and the people you share it with are unpredictable variables, all of them containing the power of thirty hydrogen bombs. That is a scary thought. Or maybe it's a thrilling thought.