A FEW YEARS AGO, I went to a big event
at the Key Arena in Seattle called Results 2000. Tony
Robbins was the main speaker and master of ceremonies, but it
was an all-day event and many speakers were on the roster. Brian
Tracy, the author of some of my favorite audio programs was one
of the speakers. Most of them talked about changing your state
I enjoyed it tremendously. But after it
was over I thought, "Here are the top motivational speakers
in the world corporations pay them thousands of dollars
to talk to the company's top executives because what these guys
teach is so valuable and the principles they talk about
are the same ones Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich seventy years ago!"
The way to change your state of mind hasn't changed a bit.
At first I was disappointed. I thought
they should have come up with something new. But then I realized
the same few principles that worked on human minds seventy years
ago still work on human minds today. Human beings haven't changed.
We're still human. What will change your state of mind is the
same thing that could change your grandfather's state of mind.
One of the principles Tony talked about
was what he called "incantations." That means changing
your state of mind by saying positive things to yourself with
feeling. Napoleon Hill called it "autosuggestion."
This is one of the most basic principles for taking advantage
of the awesome power of your mind and fulfilling your potential.
There ain't much to it, and it's easy to explain.
I saw the principle illustrated in the
movie The Edge with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
The two men in the movie are out in the Alaskan wilderness. Their
plane had crashed and they were trying to get back to civilization.
But a huge bear was stalking them. It had already brutally killed
and eaten one of their friends. Now it was after them. Their
state of mind was FEAR.
They made a circle of fire and it was keeping
the bear at bay, but they had no food or water, so they couldn't
stay where they were. The bear was faster than they were so they
couldn't outrun it.
scene, Bob (Baldwin) has a look of hopeless despair on his face.
Charles (Hopkins) is sharpening a long pole, saying he's going
to kill the bear. We, the audience, realize this is really the
only way out of their predicament. Kill or be killed. But Bob
is in anguish. He doesn't think it's possible. He says,
"We can't kill the bear, Charles. He's ahead of us all the
time. It's like he's reading our minds he's stalking us
for God's sake!" He drops his head. His face has a look
of intense anguish. He looks like he's on the verge of crying.
You can tell what he's picturing in his mind: The horror of being
eaten alive and despair of realizing there's no way he can avoid
this unthinkable nightmare. It's a thought too overwhelming to
Charles says, "You want to die out
here, huh? Well, then die. I'll tell you what: I'm not going
to die. No sir. I'm not going to die. I'm going to kill the bear."
Charles looks at Bob. "Say it,"
Charles demands. "Say I'm going to kill the bear.
Say it!" Charles asks him again. Bob remains silent. Charles
yells at him, "Say it! Say I'm going to kill the bear!"
Bob, not looking at all convinced, says
quietly, "I'm going to kill the bear."
"Say it again," says Charles.
Bob says it a little louder, "I'm
going to kill the bear."
This time Bob yells out: "I'M GOING
TO KILL THE BEAR!"
"Good! What one man can do, another
can do." Charles is yelling at Bob now, like a coach on
Bob repeats, "What one man can do,
another can do."
Charles makes him repeat this statement
a few more times, with increasing feeling, and you see the hopeless
despair on Bob's face slowly transform into grim determination.
This is a very useful and powerful transition
to make in a circumstance like that.
The thoughts you think in a crisis can
save your life or bury you. No kidding. Read the stories of people
who have survived seemingly hopeless situations Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors,
the true story of a Rugby team that crashed in the Andes mountains;
Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, the
true story of a sailor who spent 76 days alone on his life raft
after his boat sunk; Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage,
the true story of a team of Antarctic explorers led by Earnest
Shackleton they all survived because at least one person
was able to say to himself with firm determination, "We're
going to make it. We will survive." At least one
person did not succumb to the despair that naturally occurs to
Thousands of people have perished in similar
circumstances people who threw up their hands in hopelessness
and declared, "We're dead!" people who wrung
their hands and repeated to themselves how hopeless and horrible
it was. Those people didn't take the steps that might have
saved them. Remember this in case you are ever in a seriously
But you don't have to be in really bad
straits to use this. This is a tool. A mental tool. It's simple
and it's good for a great many applications. No matter how high-tech
we get, some tools will never change and will always be useful.
People have used axes to chop wood for thousands of years, and
in all that time, the basic design hasn't changed. It's basic.
It is simple. And it does the job.
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
You can use this mental tool making
positive statements to yourself with feeling whenever
you want to change your state of mind. You can use it whenever
the state of mind you have fallen into is counterproductive.
My wife and I got into an argument one
night as she was getting ready for bed. I went into the other
room so she could sleep. I knew she wouldn't be able to sleep,
but I was feeling too angry and self-righteous to try to make
her feel better.
My state of mind wasn't what I wanted it
to be. So I changed it. I had an effective tool that could do
the job. First I said to myself, "I can get out of this
self-righteous state." I said it quietly at first. Then
I said it with a little more feeling. Then I said it with even
That's always a good way to approach it.
Sometimes at first you can't really work up any feeling for it.
But if you just say it, even in a monotone, the next time you
say it, you can say it with a little more feeling.
I was doing this in my head, by the way.
You can say things to yourself with feeling. The voice
in your head has a tone of voice and a volume.
Then I said to myself (with no conviction
at all), "I'm going to go in there and make her feel good."
I wanted her to be able to go to sleep with no hard feelings
I said it again and again, with more feeling
every time. And...it changed my state. I was angry to start with.
After spending only about six or seven minutes using this mental
tool, I changed my state from anger to a firm determination to
make her feel good. I went into the bedroom, gave her a big hug
and told her I loved her. She hugged me back and thanked me.
You are not a victim to your own feelings.
You can control how you feel if you have the right tool.
It's like chopping down a tree if you have the right tool
(an ax, for example) you can do it. If you don't have the right
tool, it is nearly impossible. Can you change your emotional
state when you want? Yes, you can, if you use the right
USE YOUR FACE
The researcher Patricia Ruselli did an
experiment that went like this: The subject was brought in and
told to watch a slide presentation designed to produce sadness.
Half the subjects were told to frown while they watched it. The
other half were told not to frown.
For several hours afterwards, the people
who frowned felt more depressed than the people who didn't frown.
Fritz Strack, a psychologist at Mannheim
University in Germany, conducted an unusual experiment. He took
a group of volunteers and told them he was going to test their
physical skills. He showed them a series of cartoons and told
them to rate the cartoons' funniness. But they had to hold a
pen in their mouths while they did it. Half of them were told
to hold it between their lips; the other half, between their
The ones with the pen between their teeth
rated the cartoons as funnier.
Apparently, when they held the pen between
their lips, they couldn't smile, but when it was between their
teeth, the pen forced their faces into a smile, or at least closer
to a smile than a pen between their lips, and that physical change
in their facial expressions changed how funny something was.
Another bit of evidence comes from a pilot
study that found when people were injected with Botox to get
rid of furrowed brows, it improved their mood, showing
in particular, decreases in symptoms of depression. Even when
your facial expression is changed with a paralyzing toxin, it
can alter your emotional state.
The point of all this is for you to realize
that when you change your facial expression, you change your
feelings. So use this. Say your statements with feeling
feeling in your voice and feeling on your face.
In Henry V, Shakespeare shows his understanding
(as usual) of human nature. During a break between skirmishes
while they are attacking a city, King Henry addresses his troops.
He gives his men detailed instructions on what to do with their
facial expression and their breathing. In Act III, Scene I, King
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To its full height!
Basically, King Henry is telling his soldiers
exactly how to get their body and face in a good fighting mode.
He tells them to make themselves tense and hardened, to put a
look of rage on their faces, to make their eyebrows low with
their eyes glaring intensely, to clamp the teeth, flare their
nostrils, to blow out forcefully when they breathe out. If you
do this, even while sitting here reading, you'll notice it makes
you feel more aggressive, more warlike, more ready for battle.
Say your statements with feeling, and use your face, your body's posture, and your
breathing to help you enhance those feelings.
There are two ways you can use this tool.
One is to change your state in preparation for a task you are
about to do, as illustrated above.
The other way is training. Repeat
things to yourself that you would like to be in the habit of
thinking. Say them aloud in your car. Your car is a good place
to practice because you can say it out loud with as much feeling
as you want without scaring other people. Repeat phrases to yourself.
Repeat things you would like to get in the habit of thinking.
Over time, those phrases feel more natural to you and come to
mind when you need them.
It's like learning a new foreign language.
Each word of the new language feels clumsy to say and you find
it hard to pronounce. But the more you say it, the more you repeat
it, the more natural it feels.
The thoughts you naturally think only seem
natural because you're used to thinking them. Use this
technique and you can become accustomed to thinking new thoughts.
And once again, even this idea isn't new.
Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone suggested in their book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude
that you use what they called "self-starters."
These are statements you say to yourself over and over rapidly.
For example, "Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!" They
suggest you take a statement like that and say it to yourself
fifty times in a row every morning. And what happens? That thought
comes into your mind when you need it. You have practiced
thinking it. It has become comfortable and familiar and comes
into your mind easily.
Whether you use this tool for a task you're
about to do, or to train your mind to think differently
in the future, the tool is easy to use and works beautifully.
As Napoleon Hill wrote:
"Follow the instructions, no matter
how abstract or impractical they may, at first, appear to be.
The time will soon come, if you do as you have been instructed,
in spirit as well as in act, when a whole new universe of power
will unfold to you."
You can change your state. You can turn
despair into determination, wishy-washiness into resolve, anxiety
into courage, anger into compassion. This is not one of many
basic tools. This is one of very few basic tools, and
this is one you will find extremely useful.
Say practical statements to