Students who believe they can change their intelligence through hard work do better academically compared to students who believe their intelligence is a fixed trait (6).
Merely believing that your job provides a good amount of exercise is enough to lose weight, drop BMI and decrease blood pressure (7).
Your beliefs about how much calories a drink contains affect how much hunger hormone gets released in your body after drinking it (8).
If you believe stress is harmful, you’ll experience more stress than people who don’t (9).
Mindsets even affect your life expectancy. That is because individuals with a negative aging mindset are less likely to proactively engage in healthy behaviors such as eating healthy, exercising and visiting the doctor (10).
One belief can flood your system with stress hormones. Another one can make you feel calm and confident.
A Practical Example
The Father of American psychology, William James (11), claimed that: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Let’s say you’re about to speak in front of a lot of people and you’re feeling nervous.
Your interpreter shows up and says: “Yup, you’re in way over your head this time. You’re going to fail miserably. Everyone is going to see it. And obviously, you’re stressing out about it.”
If you believe that, you’re going to be a mess, and your performance will most likely suffer from it.
But you can also step in and choose another belief: “This is not stress. It’s excitement. And that’s a good thing because it means my body is preparing for a great performance.”
That won’t necessarily make the feeling go away, but you’ll interpret it differently.
And that’s all you have to do to increase your chances of a great performance significantly (12).
Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
In light of this research, perhaps we should say: “It’s not what The Interpreter says, but whether you choose to believe it, that matters.”
This simple idea can make a huge difference.
And it goes way beyond stage fright.
If you want, you can use it to examine and change your most deeply held beliefs.
And it all starts with becoming aware of The Interpreter is telling you.
Remind yourself that what it’s telling you is not the truth. It’s just a narration to help you make sense of the world.
And if that particular story isn’t helpful to you, then switch it out.
You get to decide what to believe, so choose wisely.
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