On a Scale …

Some time ago two persons told me they had been traveling for about twenty hours on an aircraft. I asked how they coped with jetlag. They answered they felt extremely well. They had not felt any jetlag at all because they had prepared themselves for feeling great and energetic at the end of the trip.

I was curious about what they had done. They were used to ask questions that would direct their thought towards what they wanted. One way of doing it is to ask: On a scale from one to ten how do I feel about making that speech, doing that task, learning how to speed read, at the end of the trip etc.

A friend of mine lost her husband some years ago. When things are happening that earlier in life might have upset her, she now has the habit of always asking herself: On a scale from one to ten, how important is this?

My speed reading course starts with the same question to my students: On a scale from one to ten, where do you place yourself to get the most out of it today and to improve your reading rate? – A couple of years ago I had the same course on two consecutive days. The first day quite a few students were saying about seven out of ten. The next day every student said ten (at least, a couple said eleven or twelve out of ten). The class that had the high scores on the scale had much higher improvements in their reading results. Since that day I make sure the students put themselves high on the scale before we start.

What can we do when we feel bad about something or want to change our mood? Ask your brain to help you by following these steps:


Relax (take deep calming breaths). Close your eyes and in your mind go to the movies and see yourself on the screen the way you want to be or react. Make the picture on the screen as big and as clear as possible. Add strong emotions. Hold on to this visualization for about two minutes. Repeat if needed.


The brain is just a computer. The reason you feel down or fearful is because you told your brain to feel that way. If for example two children get dropped from the swimming team, one cries because she wants to participate in the swimming competition while the other person is delighted because she can now join her friends for the next two birthday parties. It is the same event that happened to the two children, but they chose different ways of reacting.

Someone once said: Happiness is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person. – Whatever state you want, you now have a tool to achieve it, your private movie theatre.

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