The Placebo Effect: Fact or Fiction?

What’s more important? What we do each day? Or, how we think about what we do each day?

The research is clear. How we think about our daily activities, much more so than the activities themselves, defines our reality.

In the Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares a 1979 study conducted by Ellen Langer in which a group of 75-year old men spent one week at a retreat center living as if it were 1959. They dressed and acted like they were 55. They were given badges with photos of themselves in their mid-50s. They were told to talk about President Eisenhower and other events in their lives that had occurred at the time. Issues of Life magazine and The Saturday Evening Post were left on coffee tables.

Prior to the experiment, all the participants were tested on things we assume get worse with age: strength, posture, perception, cognition, and memory. Guess what? After spending a week being 20 years younger, most of the men improved in every category. They were significantly more flexible, had better posture, their eyesight improved 10 percent as well as their short-term memory!

Today’s big learning is: life and our experience of being alive is much more subjective than we realize.

Think about the Placebo Effect. Numerous studies show when patients are given a sugar pill and told it will make them better, it often does. In another study, hotel cleaning staff were divided into two groups. One group was told how much exercise they were getting each day, how similar vacuuming is to a cardio workout, how many calories they were burning, etc. The other half were not. At the end of the experiment, the group who thought of their work as exercise had lost weight and their cholesterol dropped! The control group did not.

_____________

Reflection: Is there an activity or a relationship in my life which would benefit from changing my mindset?

Action: What action might I take today to close the gap between where I am now and the highest, best version of myself?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *