How to Change Your State of Mind

A few years ago, I went to a big event at the Key Arena in Seattle. Tony Robbins was the main speaker and master of ceremonies, but it was an all-day event and many speakers were on the roster. Brian Tracy, the author of some of my favorite audio programs (including The Psychology of Achievement: Develop the Top Achiever's Mindset), was one of the people giving a talk that day.

Most of the speakers talked about changing your state of mind. This was a “motivational seminar” and I enjoyed it tremendously.

But after it was over I thought, “Here are the best motivational speakers in the world — corporations pay them thousands of dollars to talk to the company’s top executives because what these guys teach is so valuable — and the principles they talk about are the same ones Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich seventy years ago!”

At first I was disappointed. I thought after all these years they should have come up with something new and better.

But then I realized the same few principles that worked on human minds seventy years ago still work on human minds today. Human beings haven’t changed. We’re still human. What will change your state of mind is exactly the same thing that could change your grandfather’s state of mind.

One of the principles Tony talked about was what he called “incantations.” That means changing your state of mind by saying positive things to yourself with feeling. Napoleon Hill called it “autosuggestion.”

This is the same principle as “thought practice.” This is slotralogy. The only thing that has changed in the last seventy years is the explanation of why it works.

Napoleon Hill believed your “vibrations of thought” influenced the world and other people and your own subconscious and that’s why it worked so well. Now the explanation is “you are practicing a thought until it comes naturally to mind.” The “how to” is the same and it still works, regardless of why we think it works.

Although the principle hasn't changed, we've learned a few things about how to make it work better. The most important of these is the value of using your face.

Use Your Face

Paul Ekman, author of What the Face Reveals, has been studying facial expressions for a long time. He and his colleagues have created a detailed catalog of 43 “facial-action” combinations. They know exactly which tiny muscles are used in any facial expression, and their system of identifying facial expressions is now the standard for use in many different fields, including psychology and criminal science. Ekman literally has facial expressions down to a science.

As part of the process of finding out which muscles are used in which facial expressions, one day Ekman spent part of his day at the lab trying to reproduce an authentic look of sadness on his own face. When he got home that evening he realized he felt depressed.

Ekman explored further into this and found when he made his facial muscles create an authentic smile, it improved his mood.

Another researcher, Patricia Ruselli, did an experiment completely unrelated to Ekman’s work, but got similar results. Ruselli asked volunteers to watch a slide presentation designed to produce sadness. Half the subjects were told to frown while they watched it. The other half were told not to frown.

For several hours afterwards, the people who frowned felt more depressed than the people who didn’t frown.

Fritz Strack, a psychologist at Mannheim University in Germany, took a group of volunteers and told them he was going to test their physical skills. He showed them a series of cartoons and told them to rate the cartoons’ funniness. But they had to hold a pen in their mouths while they did it. Half of them were told to hold it between their lips. The other half had to hold it between their teeth.

The ones with the pen between their teeth rated the cartoons as funnier.

Apparently, when they held the pen between their lips, they couldn’t smile, but when it was between their teeth, the pen forced at least some of their facial muscles into a smile, and that changed how funny the cartoons seemed to them.

Still another bit of evidence comes from a pilot study that found when people were injected with Botox to get rid of furrowed brows, it improved their mood — it especially reduced symptoms of depression.

Even when your facial expression is changed with a paralyzing toxin, it can alter your emotional state.

The point of all this is to realize when you change your facial expression, you influence your feelings.

Use this fact. When you practice your slotras, say them with feeling — feeling in your voice and with emotion on your face.

In Henry V, Shakespeare displayed his knowledge of human nature, as he did in so many of his plays. During a break between skirmishes while they are attacking a city, King Henry addresses his troops. He gives his men detailed instructions on what to do with their facial expression (and their breathing). In Act III, Scene I, King Henry says:

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To its full height!

Basically, King Henry is telling his soldiers exactly how to get their body and face in a good fighting spirit. He tells them how to change their face and body so they feel more courageous and aggressive.

King Henry instructs his men to make themselves tense and hardened, to put a look of rage on their faces, to make their eyebrows low with their eyes glaring out intensely. He tells them to clamp the teeth, flare their nostrils, and to blow out forcefully when they breathe out. If you do this, even while sitting here reading, you’ll notice it does, in fact, make you feel more aggressive, more grimly determined, more ready to fight.

Repeating a slotra is the most basic principle for taking advantage of the awesome power of your mind and fulfilling your potential. When you use it, remember your face. Say your slotras with feeling. And use your tone of voice, your face, your body’s posture, and your breathing to help you intensify those feelings.

Read the next chapter: Think Of Slotras As Training

This article was excerpted from the book, Slotralogy: How to Change Your Habits of Thought.

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