FREEDOM FRIDAY: The life & death power of the "Belief Effect"
You can listen to the podcast version of this episode on Apple, Spotify, or this audio player:
One of the most harmful pieces of societal programming is that we are each prisoners of our genes.
It's an insidious "mind virus" (to quote Randy Gage) that can infect every facet of one's life: Our health, our careers, our businesses, and our relationships.
You’re genetically predisposed to be fat.
You don't have the "entrepreneur gene."
You’re genetically predisposed to have heart disease.
You have the "cancer gene."
You’re genetically predisposed to...WHATEVER.
A belief in genetic determinism is a prime way to get trapped in a state of victimhood, and a wonderful way for businesses and politicians to profit from that victimhood, whether it's a drug, a book, a proposed law, a course, a type of food, etc.
Genetic determinism, of course, flies in the face of what we know about something called genetic expression — which is the fact that, in the words of Bruce H. Lipton, PhD...
"It's the environment, stupid!"
In other words, our actual biology is influenced as much, if not more, by environmental stressors, what we eat, where we live, what we feed our minds, etc. than by any sort of genetic determinism.
This very notion, however, might be scary to you if it challenges your underlying beliefs.
It will certainly upset you if you're someone who directly profits off peoples' belief in genetic determinism.
The fact remains, your behaviors influence your biology and your entire being.
And those behaviors are influenced by your thoughts.
What is the root of your thoughts?
Your beliefs fuel your thoughts, which fuel your actions, which fuel your results.
Contrary to what you might think, your beliefs are not the same as your thoughts.
For example, thinking about God all day is not the same as truly believing in God.
Repeating positive thoughts and mantras about money all day is not the same thing as believing in your prosperity.
And, hell, reading and thinking about this very article and the harmful belief in genetic determinism is not the same thing as believing in genetic expression.
If you want to change any facet of your life, you first have to change your actions.
If you want to change your actions, you first have to change your thoughts.
If you want to truly change your thoughts, you have to first change your beliefs.
Over the course of the past five months or so, I've shared in this newsletter a number of ways we can help you identify the limiting beliefs that are the root of the thoughts and actions producing the results you don't want in your life.
In today's article, I share stories that specifically show the power of the Belief Effect to change your life.
Believing in the Fountain of Youth
In 1979, Harvard University researcher Ellen Langer, Ph.D. conducted a study to see how the mind could impact “age.”
There was a control group of elderly men.
And there was an experimental group of elderly men.
In each group, there were men who were stooped over. Some had canes.
They were all put in a monastery in New Hampshire for a week.
The experimental group stayed in quarters in which everything was made to be exactly like 1959. Only 1959. TV shows. Music. Magazines, etc.
This group didn’t even have mirrors to see their current selves.
It basically was 1959.
The control group? They simply reminisced about 1959 but “lived” in the current time.
The results after a week?
As Business Insider reports, both groups showed improvements in "physical strength, manual dexterity, gait, posture, perception, memory, cognition, taste sensitivity, hearing, and vision."
The improvements, however, were much more significant "the group told to live as if it were actually 1959."
By the end of the week:
63% of the men in the "1959 group" had better intelligence test scores, compared to 44% in the control group.
Four independent volunteers, who knew nothing about the study, looked at before-and-after photos of the "1959 group" and "perceived those in the 'after' photos as an average of two years younger than those in the 'before.'"
On the last day of the study, Langer wrote...
Men "who had seemed so frail" just days before ended up playing "an impromptu touch football game on the front lawn."
The fountain of youth was in their minds.
They believed they were living in a former time. And their bodies — their entire sense of being — followed.
Genes vs. Beliefs
Does merely learning of one's "genetic predisposition" to a disease or illness actually make that person more likely to exhibit symptoms of that disease or illness?
That's exactly what Stanford researchers wanted to find out in a 2018 study, the results of which were published in the December 10, 2019 issue of Nature: Human Behavior.
Here's how the study worked:
Participants in the study were separated into two groups.
All participants were tested for two genes — one associated with higher risk of becoming obese, the other with higher risk of performing badly in physical exercise.
The participants ate a meal after which each participant was asked how full he or she felt. Each participant's blood also was tested for levels of leptin, the hormone associated with feeling full after a meal.
The results of this first phase showed that feeling of fulness and leptin levels were about the same for people genetically prone to obesity and those who weren't.
Then the researchers moved on to phase two:
The next week all the same participants returned and ate the same meal, but this time: Half the participants were told that they had the gene that protects someone from risk for obesity, while the half of participants were told they had the higher risk version of the gene.
The results were clear:
"Simply by being told that they had the protective gene, subjects showed a blood level of leptin two and a half times higher than before."
What about the participants who were told they did not have the protective gene? These folks didn't change from the earlier results.
In other words, simply being told about one's genetic risk can cause a person to exhibit the "physiology" associated with that risk.
"What they believed to be true overrode their actual genetic predisposition, because in some cases the people who thought they were genetically protected, or vice versa, actually weren't."
Belief overrode genetic predisposition, showing that you do actually become what you believe.
In 2007, Harvard researchers Ellen Langer (who also conducted the previously mentioned "Fountain of Youth" study) and Alia J. Crum conducted a study to determine the relationship between exercise, health, and one's beliefs.
The participants in the study were 84 female room attendants who worked at seven different hotels. These participants were separated into two groups: A "control" group and an "informed" group.
The participants in the "informed" group were told that the work they did — cleaning hotel rooms — "is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General's recommendations for an active lifestyle."
Participants in the "control" group were not given that information.
Both groups participated in the same or similar levels of activity (i.e., room cleaning).
Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.
The placebo effect?
Yes, or as I like to call it — the Belief Effect.
As Bruce H. Lipton writes in the The Biology of Belief this Belief Effect shows how:
"The mind's energy directly influences how the physical brain controls the body’s physiology."
While this study shows how the Belief Effect can work to make positive physiological changes, it can also have more negative repercussions...
Believing Oneself to Death
Take the example of Sam Londe.
Sam was told by his doctors he had cancer, so he believed it.
As such, he suffered and died, only for his autopsy to show that he actually had no cancer.
The Seattle Times reports:
"In 1974, Dr. Clifton Meador, a Nashville physician, treated him (Sam Londe) for cancer of the esophagus, considered fatal back then. Londe died a few weeks later, but an autopsy revealed that his esophagus was fine."
This is an example of the Belief Effect exhibiting what is known as the "nocebo effect."
As Dr. Julio Licinio, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami, said in that same Seattle Times article:
“People get worse because they believe they’ll get worse.”
Sam Londe didn't die of cancer. He died of his beliefs.
Those beliefs were not based on fact, but rather on the opinion of someone he trusted.
That "someone" — Dr. Meador — told Discovery Health Channel years later:
“He died with cancer, but not from cancer … I thought he had cancer. He thought he had cancer. Everybody around him thought he had cancer."
The thoughts of which Dr. Meador speaks were based on the belief that Sam had cancer, and those beliefs and thoughts resulted in emotions which produced the ultimate result of Sam's death.
The Belief Effect is strong enough to improve health, and strong enough to take a life.
You Become Your Beliefs
While this article contains just three stories of the power of belief to positively or negatively impact your physiology, there are countless more I could've posted that show the same principle.
You become your beliefs.
Additional stories include the power of the Belief Effect to improve muscle growth (without any strength training); to increase piano-playing skills without even touching a piano; and, improving basketball free throw skills without holding or shooting a basketball.
Now, think about how the Belief Effect is impacting your life.
How are your beliefs allowing — or blocking — your joy?
How are your beliefs allowing — or blocking — your creation of prosperity?
How are your beliefs allowing — or blocking — your health?
Whatever it is you want to create or attract in your life, know that you can change your beliefs to make it happen.
The first step is identifying these beliefs.
The next step is clearing and cleaning them — and, make no mistake, dissolving long-held beliefs takes work.
But it can be done.
You can replace your limiting beliefs with empowering beliefs.
In doing so, you will become those empowering beliefs.
And, as the stories and studies in this article show...
Your life might just depend on it.
Curt Mercadante helps driven men free themselves from the limiting beliefs and stress that block their joy, fulfillment, and freedom. Click here to get access to our FREE Freedom Lifestyle Audio Course.