After writing the series on subjective reality, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to push the envelope of this “thought creates reality” mindset. As you probably know by now, my preferred style is to dive in with some kind of personal experiment as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and pondering.
One of the ways to test whether or not your thoughts really do create your reality is to change your dominant thinking about something and then observe whether external reality follows suit to re-align itself with your new thoughts. It can take a while to change your beliefs about something, but the way I do it is to pick a new thought that’s incongruent with my current reality and then hold that thought in my head as much as possible. I keep thinking about it until I start to believe it. I visually imagine the new thought as real while lying in bed, going for a walk, standing in line, driving my car, etc. Whenever I catch myself observing reality in a way that will cause me to think about things as they are, I immediately shift my thinking to thoughts of how I want them to be. This isn’t easy because you have to be very conscious of your thoughts throughout the day, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. You have to shift the balance from observing to creating. Over the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch or lying in bed, imagining reality being different than I currently observe it to be.
These are totally subjective experiments, so they’re only going to be meaningful to the person conducting them. These are also very preliminary results, since I’ve only been doing this for about three days now, but I find the results pretty interesting so far.
Experiment 1: Increasing physical strength.
This year I’ve been making slow but steady progress in increasing my strength via weight training. I record all my workouts and chart my progress, so I know what to expect for my baseline strength gains over time. Since I’ve done so much running (and a lot of biking too), my legs are already very strong, but my upper body sees much slower progress. The maximum number of push-ups I can do is 27 — I just measured that on Saturday. The maximum number of push-ups I’ve ever been able to do in my life was 30, but that was around 1998.
For this first experiment, I decided to visualize myself becoming much stronger in my upper body. So for the past few days, I’ve been holding that thought and visualizing myself as much stronger than I supposedly am.
Well, this morning at the gym when I did my usual upper body workout, I noticed I was indeed much stronger than usual. I was able to increase my chest press weight by 20% and my dumbbell flyes weight by 33% with about the same number of sets/reps as usual. These were both new personal bests for me, and I felt like I could have gone even higher. My last upper body workout was just on Saturday, so seeing this kind of improvement over such a short period of time is very out of the ordinary for me. I really didn’t feel like I was pushing myself any more than usual. The weights simply felt lighter to me. I also didn’t change my diet or the time of my workout. I ate a few strawberries before my workout — nothing unusual there, unless these were genetically modified superberries.
About 30 minutes ago, I decided to see how many push-ups I could do. I’m a bit sore from my morning workout, so I didn’t even think I could do 27 again, since I did that when I was fresh and rested. I did 32 push-ups. That’s my lifetime personal best… and a 19% increase in just 3 days. Wow.
At this point I’ll say these results are interesting (and certainly very welcome), but obviously there could be some kind of psychosomatic effect here. Even so, it’s not bad for a few days of visualization. What I really want to know is whether this is a one-time fluke or whether improvements like this are sustainable. I’m going to keep doing the visualizations and see what happens over the next few weeks.
Experiment 2: Increasing income.
I decided to imagine myself enjoying a significantly higher income. What I like about this experiment is that it’s easy to measure changes in income. With the ongoing Million Dollar Experiment, I simply renew an intention for a minute or so each day. But this time I tried to hold the intention all day long.
Even though I’d planned to do something else today, this morning I felt a strong urge to do some optimization work on my web site’s ad layout. At first I decided to make only one little tweak, but soon I fell into this amazing flow and ended up working for about 10 hours straight. First, I reconfigured the existing ad layout to improve performance. Then I removed the underperforming Chitika ads (Chitika started out great for me, but their performance has gotten worse and worse). But the most important change was that I found a way to significantly increase my ad inventory while actually making the site look less packed with ads. It’s too soon to tell what the long-term effect of these changes will be, but I estimate that these changes will probably increase my income by at least $1000 per month, although it may take a couple months for that to kick in. Not bad for a day’s work.
This is a very preliminary result, but it’s a strong positive step in the direction of my new thoughts. I can’t say there’s any external effect “out there” in this case because these changes manifested through the process of me getting ideas and then implementing them. I still consider it a positive outcome though, since at the very least, the site now looks less cluttered with ads, which should make it easier to read and navigate.
Experiment 3: Reprogramming my wife.
This experiment was the most fun (and perhaps the most obnoxious) to try. I can’t reveal all the details publicly because I don’t want to embarrass my wife (too much), but basically I decided to see if I could change her behavior simply by imagining her behaving differently.
My wife isn’t the neatest person in the world, so I imagined her being neater and cleaner. Today I found her cleaning the refrigerator. She never does that. And I really mean never. The only time our refrigerator gets cleaned is when we hire a cleaning service. But there she was on her knees scrubbing it out. As soon as she saw me, she gave me a look to acknowledge that she knew perfectly well this was very odd behavior for her. Then she said, “For some reason I just have this strong urge to clean. It’s weird.” She even seemed to be enjoying it.
I find it hard to believe I could have subconsciously influenced her to do this by my actions, except maybe on a telepathic level. I spent the whole day working in my office and didn’t even tell her I was imagining her being neater. And I definitely never suggested that she clean the refrigerator. I also noticed that she did a few other cleaning chores today too, although those weren’t too out of the ordinary for her.
There was one other thing I reprogrammed about her which also amazed me. I’m sure you can guess what category that falls into, since I’m not going to share the details here. Suffice it to say that I have some very nice memories. :)
After seeing these rather dramatic shifts in her behavior, I told Erin what I had done. She’s OK with this sort of thing, since she knows I like to do these kinds of experiments — it’s not unlike the money manifesting experiments we did last summer (and which amazed us both). She told me she fully enjoyed doing all of these things. She said she just felt a strong, positive urge to do them, even though these were all things she’d resisted in the past.
Do your thoughts program your reality?
While the first two experiments seemed like they could be forms of internal reprogramming and the power of suggestion, I have a hard time seeing the third one in that same light. It’s still too early to be sure, so I’m going to continue testing. A better experiment would perhaps be to try to change someone’s behavior at a distance, someone you don’t have any direct contact with, so you can rule out the possibility of subconsciously influencing them in ways you aren’t aware of.
I’d encourage you to try similar experiments for yourself if you enjoy this sort of thing. Just be sure to imagine positive results, so even if your findings are inconclusive, at least you (and others) may still enjoy a positive outcome.
This “thought creates reality” mindset suggests that if you feel depressed or otherwise negative, your depressing thoughts are actually manifesting that depressing reality for you to observe. By observing depressing “facts” about your life, you may in fact be re-creating that unfortunate reality over and over. The solution is to exercise your power of creation by pulling back into your imagination, visualizing a fresh new reality that you want to experience, and holding that thought long enough for your external reality to align with it. In my experience I begin seeing observable shifts within a few days. I’ve done this a lot over the past year, and it still freaks me out every time it happens. Perhaps I just need to get over that.
Remembering a negative past is equally problematic. To remember is to think, which is to create. So if you remember problems from your past, you simply recreate those problems in the present. The best thing you can do with a painful past is to either forget it or reinterpret it in a positive light. Again, the solution is to create a discontinuity by exercising your imagination. Stop observing the past and the present you don’t want, and spend more time cultivating a better reality in your imagination until it starts to feel even more real to you than your present external circumstances. Eventually your external reality will shift to align itself with your imagination.
It’s important to only imagine a new reality you believe is possible for you. That’s going to be different for everyone. If you visualize something you feel is impossible, it won’t become a new belief — it will simply remain pure fantasy. So if you want to experiment with this personally, reach for the edges of what you currently believe is possible and see if you can push those edges back a bit.
It’s pretty amazing to consider that your judgments about another person could actually be creating that person’s behavior. If you were to imagine making different judgments to the point of actually believing them, you might observe that person shifting his/her behavior to come into alignment with your new beliefs. I’m going to see if I can reprogram my kids next… every parent’s dream. ;)
Experiment #3 is consistent with a book I read (can’t remember which one) that observed that the key to a successful marriage was to basically just think positively about your spouse. By doing this you’ll soon find your spouse living up to your positive expectations. I’d say that’s been true of my marriage.
I’m a bit concerned about what my wife will reprogram me to do once she reads this. At least I can expect to enjoy it, whatever it is.