Friday, January 27, 2012
Think in Higher Level Terms
Today, I was reading an article in The Smithsonian Magazine on Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer of "Dr. Livingston, I presume?" fame. I enjoy the Smithsonian magazine and my mom gets it for me for Christmas every year. The article is called "Breaker of Rocks" and is by Roy F. Baumeister and John Teirney
(Smithsonian, December 2011, vol 42, no. 6, pps. 78 - 86).
The article was talking about Stanley's perseverance in spite of poor conditions, failing health and starvation. He was able to survive because he focused on greater things...in his case, he quoted a line of Tennyson's poetry...and urged his men to keep that in mind. Here's what the article said:
"...his approach embodied an acknowledged principle of self-control: Focus on lofty thoughts.
"This strategy was tested at New York University by researchers including Kentaro Fujita and Yaacov Trope. They found that self-control improved among people who were encouraged to think in high-level terms (Why do you maintina good health?), and got worse among those who thought in lower-level terms (How do you maintain good health?)" (page 86).
In other words, if we focus not on "I need to lose weight and I'll do this by not eating that chocolate truffle," to "I want to be the healthiest I can be, I have a great deal to accomplish in life. I WANT to be healthy. I will eat healthily" then you have a fighting chance at actually succeeding. Ok..so they said it better than I did in the article but I didn't want to quote a passage any longer than I did...
But hey...focus on "I will be healthy." What can it hurt?
For more information on the Smithsonian Magazine, check out Smithsonian.com.