The evidence has been mounting that
training the mind is of great benefit in
almost every area of human endeavor. The
research of people such as Charles Garfield
has made it clear that superior achievers in
all aspects of life, including business and
finance, make heavy use of mental training.
Corporate superstars such as
the man who founded IBM, are great examples.
Garfield has found that peak performers use
their minds differently than other people.
These different ways can
be learned. More and more businesses have
been using mental-training courses for their
executives and salespeople for the simple
reason that these courses lead to improved
The evidence has also been
mounting that the mind plays a pivotal role
in health and illness.
Stress, often the result
of how the mind perceives what needs to be
done, how quickly, and to what degree of
perfection, has been linked to all kinds of
Stress reduction can be
achieved through retraining the mind, which
leads to better habits and health.
Depression, one of the
most common disorders in America, has been
shown in clinical studies to be largely a
product of maladaptive thinking, and to be
successfully treatable by mental training.
confirms that the mind is primary. As
cognitive therapists have repeatedly
demonstrated in the laboratory and the
consulting office, in most cases our
thoughts and mental images determine our
feelings and behavior.
Change the ideas and
images, and feelings and action also change.
Many of the popular psychotherapies of
the 1960s and 1970s, which focused on the
awareness and expression of cognitive
behavior therapy, primarily a way of
changing what you say to yourself and how
you view yourself, has become one of the
leading therapies and has influenced
practitioners of other therapeutic schools.
From the corporate
boardroom to the athletic field to the
psychotherapist's and physician's office,
using the mind to improve performance and
the quality of life is finally coming into
More and more people in
different fields are recognizing that the
mind can be used to reprogram itself,
leading to greater creativity, productivity,
The methods of mental
training can be used to resolve emotional
and behavioral problems, to achieve personal
growth, and to enhance performance.
The same techniques can be
used with equal success in all these areas.
They really come down to helping people be
more effective in all aspects of their
Two dramatic events from
the world of sports well illustrate the
powers of the mind. The first occurred in
1954. Before May 6 of that year, no one had
ever run a mile in under four minutes; lots
of runners had tried and many had come
close, but there was a barrier. Many runners
and scholars argued that the barrier was
physiological, that human bodies simply
couldn't run that fast.
As Roger Bannister, the
first human to break the barrier, said,
"Everyone used to think it was quite
impossible, and beyond the reach of any
But Bannister never
thought this himself and prepared
accordingly. What is perhaps even more
astonishing than Bannister's own achievement
is that once he proved it could be done,
others were also able to do it.
By now hundreds of runners
have run a mile in less than four minutes.
It is doubtful that human physiology
underwent a significant change in that
A similar thing happened
in weight lifting. Before Vasily Alexeev
lifted 501 pounds in 1970 no-one had
ever lifted 500 pounds over his head and many argued
that it was a physiological impossibility.
But in the month after Alexeev broke the
barrier, four other weight lifters lifted
over 500 pounds. By
now, scores have done it. Why?
The analysis of Arnold
Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly correct. "They
believed it was possible. The body didn't
change. How could the body change that much?
It was the same body. But the mind was
different. Mentally it's possible to break
records. Once you understand that, you can
But what does this have to
do with you? Probably a great deal, because
your mind is no different from those of
runners and weight lifters.
The mind's double-edged
power is at work in all of us, either
hindering and making us miserable or
facilitating our efforts and making us feel
Your mind keeps you from
doing things it doesn't believe are
possible, but once it accepts that you can
do something, chances are good you will be
able to do it (provided, of course, that you
are also prepared in other ways). This idea
has ramifications in all of life.
Take a man who tells
himself he doesn't have what it takes to
give a good talk, one of the most common
fears in America, and imagines the audience
laughing at his attempts.
He is depressed and
distraught and not surprisingly gives a poor
presentation even though he knows his
Another man who also knows
his material tells himself the opposite. He
thinks he can give a good talk, and imagines
himself doing so and the audience responding
positively; not surprisingly, he greatly
improves the chances of giving a good
presentation. The difference between the
first man and the second is how they use
But, you may be thinking,
some things are absolute. Pain, for example,
is pain, and it makes no difference what
your mind says about it.
But that is not quite the
case. The experience of pain is very much
influenced by what your mind is doing.
Take two women in a
dentist's office, both of whom are having
exactly the same procedure. One woman has
been terrified for days in advance,
anticipating unendurable pain.
Assuming that she gets to and stays in
the office, she focuses on everything the
dentist does, waiting for the horrible
feelings to begin.
As soon as the dentist
touches her mouth, she feels profound
anxiety and pain. Needless to say, she has a
horrible experience. Even
novocaine may not
help much. This may be why some people are
more prone to illness than others, too.
But the other woman has a
very different kind of experience. Because
she knows how to use the powers of her mind
(what this book will teach you), she doesn't
Going to the dentist for
her is no different than going shopping or
brushing her hair, just something that needs
to be done. She uses what she knows about
the mind to cope with the dentist's
drilling. Her experience is largely one of
Consider two people of
equal abilities, appearance, and interests.
One learns to deal with the inherent
problems of close relationships and develops
one that is the envy of friends; the other
doesn't. One becomes very wealthy; the other
One goes to the top of his
or her field; the other doesn't. Luck may
have something to do with it, of course, but
the main difference between those who make
it and those who don't has to do with the
powers of the mind and how they are used.
The terms commonly used to
describe the differences between these two
groups — words like drive, motivation,
competitiveness, confidence, will,
perseverance, and belief in self — are all
qualities of mind.