October 16, 2018
In the past, the person who knows the facts is the most successful. Now, the person who knows how to "find" the facts is going to be the most successful!
We have limited space in our brain for memory. The memory is filled with two things: facts and a retrieval system to find the facts. In ancient times, there were few facts that needed a minimal retrieval system. Over time, facts became so numerous, libraries were built and a complex retrieval system was needed.
Our memory is the same, we need a retrieval system to find facts. That's why companies whose advertisements associate an easy retrieval system with the product sell more product. There are two memory components of advertising – remember the product name and remember the retrieval system. If you want students to remember a healthy food slogan, associate the slogan with a cafeteria food tray, which will act as a retrieval system.
The internet search engines do a much better job of retrieval than our memory. If you want French food, your memory may have a list of two or three in your area, but the internet has hundreds and includes non-French restaurant names that serve French food.
We live in a wonderful digital age - we don't need to fill our memory space with facts. They're infinitely available to us on the internet. Memorizing and learning facts takes up memory space.
We have freed up our entire memory space to use for finding facts. Use it to find the right facts to apply in the right way for success.
Gary Epler in Boston
January 23, 2018
Wrinkles don’t make you look old, it’s negative conditioning since birth. We have been conditioned to grow old. We’re continually asked how old we are. This is chronological age—and it’s for the bureaucrats, not for you. Your biological age is what counts. Our biological age is at least 20 years younger than our chronological age. The negative conditioning comments continue. “You’re too old to do that.” “I’m too old. I can’t do that anymore.” These types of comments, repeated over and over, create old age through negative conditioning. Wrinkles have nothing to do with it.
Let’s look at the causes of looking old and replace them with positive conditioning.
Attitude. If you think and feel old, you’re going to be old. The antidote to this is simple: love life. It’s filled with awe, excitement, creativity, interesting people, and exotic places. Be engaged in life, not buried in the mobile device world. Know what you want, what you’re doing, and where you’re going at all times. Have meaning in your life, outside of yourself. Engage in positive social interaction, and when you’re with people, always make it about them.
Posture. Stand and sit tall. When standing or sitting, gently tightened your upper back muscles between the shoulder blades and let your shoulders fall naturally. This straightens your back and brings your chest forward, giving you a strong appearance. Tuck in your chin in and align the back of your head with your straightened back. This posture sends positive signals to your brain, providing a sense of strength and confidence. Condition and maintain your abdominal and back core muscles through daily exercise. Rounded shoulders make people look old. Head down is weak and sends negative signals to your brain of weakness and fear. Use your computer screen at eye level. Slouching above a keyboard can become permanent, as can shoulders and a neck that sag.
Back straight, chin in, and head up not only gives you positive energy and strength, it also allows you to radiate this out to the world around you.
Slow walking. Walk tall with a steady gait while maintaining your back straight, shoulders falling naturally, chin in, and head up. This comes naturally if you’re engaged in life and have a purpose. For an extra burst of energy, walk briskly at a pace that’s 25 percent faster than your normal speed.
Complaining. Blaming others. Criticizing. Making excuses. These four traits should be eliminated from your conversation. There is no need to point out an issue or problem that’s out of your control. This repeats a negative story that helps no one, especially you. Blame and criticism do not solve problems. They’re simply a rehashing of negative energy—and on top of it, they make other people feel bad as well. In this same vein, making excuses causes negative energy and provides no solutions. People who know their own true self are in charge. There is no reason for complaining, blaming, criticizing, or making excuses.
Pessimism. Having a positive outlook will create energy and confidence. Optimism can be learned and applied to your thinking. Here’s a tip: Stop the first negative thought so it doesn’t lead to the second negative thought and subsequently the repeating of a negative story in your mind. Make a conscious decision to be grateful, have compassion, and see the good in all things.
Sad face. Smile. This sends a positive feeling to the brain and also telegraphs positivity to those who see you.
Age spots. Brown age spots on the face and the top of the hands trigger a conditioned response: thoughts of old age. These can add two decades to a person’s sense of his or her age. They can be removed with creams and other techniques; consult a dermatologist.
Take action. Abandon the feeling of being old. Develop a positive attitude and a tall posture. Eliminate complaining, criticizing, blaming, and making excuses. Choose optimism; it’s healthy. Smile. Here are some additional things you can do to fight off the feeling of old age: make a habit of health practices that include eight hours of sleep, one hour of continual exercise, eating foods that will not harm you, learning something new every day, spending time in alpha-brainwave meditation, practicing gratitude, having compassion, and making an effort at self-healing. Incorporating these things into your routine will enable you to live an extraordinary life with energy, meaning, success, and enjoyment.
Gary R. Epler, M.D. in Boston
October 31, 2017
Beware, it's your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind makes every decision in your life. This is appropriate and automatic ninety-nine percent of the time for walking, talking, and driving your car, but beware of the other one percent. All behavioral decisions like healthy eating, social interaction, and continuing bad habits are made in your subconscious mind.
What is your subconscious mind? It includes the thoughts and feelings below the level of awareness and is nearly unlimited in size.
In the clock-face study, people were asked to raise their hand randomly while looking at a clock. The researchers knew when they were going to raise their hand 300 milliseconds before the person knew. In the portrait study, people were asked to push a button in their right hand if a portrait of a person had a friendly expression and the left hand button if the portrait appeared sinister. The researchers knew several seconds before the person knew which button was going to be pushed. What’s going on? The subconscious mind makes the decision and sends the message to the conscious mind. We assume that we decide to do something, but these studies show the subconscious mind makes all decisions.
The implications may seem minor at first, but they can be life-changing. We need to align our conscious decisions with our subconscious decisions for greater success. This is accomplished by learning how to communicate with the subconscious. This is a primitive crocodile brain that responds to conditioning; emotions; images, sounds, smells, taste and touch; and subconscious reflex triggers.
Your subconscious mind sabotages your thinking. You tell yourself no dessert at today’s luncheon meeting. But, you say yes to the dessert menu and have a sugary dessert all the while saying to yourself you’re not having any. Worse yet, you’re angry with yourself causing dangerous levels of stress toxins. Your subconscious mind made this decision as it has been doing since childhood through conditioning. Instead, use this to your advantage through positive reinforcement. Eat a bowl of plain organic oatmeal. This is a different taste than you’re used to, and it’s like eating paste. However, not in your subconscious brain, here the feeling of hunger has been satisfied which sends a surge of dopamine to the nucleus accumbens pleasure center giving the brain a positive feeling, which in turn sends a pleasant feedback loop to the subcortical striatum part of the brain. Try the oatmeal again, and add blueberries, your subconscious will register this as another pleasant experience. Repeat this several times, and you will develop a craving for this healthy food with the extra benefit of the anti-inflammatory effects of the blueberries.
Sales and persuasion techniques have been based on subconscious decision making for thousands of years. Sell to the subconscious through emotions, images, sounds, and touch. The puppy dog close: send the puppy home for the night with no obligation. Yet, the dark side of the subconscious explains why brainwashing through negative conditioning is so effective. Associate a person or a group of people with negative images over and over through television and the web, soon people will automatically view that person or group as evil. How do you know when your opinion is based on conditioning or your own thinking? For example, if you have an opinion that vaccines cause autism, this is a conditioned response. This opinion is based on a single fraudulent report in a 1998 prestigious medical journal that was quickly “retracted” after investigation showed the author admitted falsifying the data. Vaccines do not cause autism. If your opinion is based on one person’s opinion or a single superficial statement, it’s likely a conditioned response. Do primary source research, and your decision will be your own.
Unconscious mind reflexes are the same as physical reflexes such as tapping the knee tendon. Learn what they are and use them in a positive way. Smile, your subconscious makes you feel better. Stand straight with open arms for strength, and slouch with folded arms for weakness. Head up is strong, head down is weak. Give a gift for increased sales. Give an after dinner mint for increased tips. This is the reciprocity reflex. Your sub-conscious mind has been conditioned to reciprocate. Scarcity of an item is similar, you will buy something if there are only three remaining because your subconscious fears loss. Consider physical activity at work as exercise and gain the benefit. Single-word reflexes are from mirror neurons. You smile and the person smiles back. The other person has a frown, you frown back along with the feeling of anger. Use “because” for a request will result in more yes responses. Rolling your eyes during a discussion causes the anger reflex by activating the amygdala anger center. Make a small request, return later and someone is more likely to accept a large request because the subconscious prefers consistency, or the opposite, make a huge request and immediately offer a small request.
Call to action. Learn the functional principles of the subconscious mind to know when it’s used against you, and learn to align your conscious thinking with your subconscious for a sustainable less stressful and more successful life.
Gary R. Epler, M.D. in Boston
July 26, 2017
Stop negative thoughts.
Each time a negative thought comes up, stop it and move on. No need to replace with a positive thought – that’s too much work. No need to replace it with anything. Move on to something else. Think a negative thought? Stop and move on.
Why? Because one negative thought leads to two, and that leads to a story. This is what happens when you have one negative thought. You have a second thought, and the third negative thought builds a story. And, this is always a bad story with an ending that causes frustration, depression, anger, and rage. This is the basis for the adage: think about it, say it, act it, and it becomes your character. Think negative thoughts, use negative talk, act on negative talk, and you become a negative person. Additional traits of this character include complaining, criticizing, blaming others, and making excuses.
Rejections. Have you ever had a major rejection or a series of rejections? You’ve submitted proposals, loan applications, college applications, or funding plans for a project or startup; and you’ve received two, five, ten, twenty or more rejections? We are told that rejections are part of life and part of success. The first few are ignored, but eventually you begin to think about these rejections. You tell yourself you’re a failure, you’re not smart enough, and everyone else is better than you. These negative thoughts begin to repeat themselves incessantly until you convince yourself you’re a failure at everything and the world is out to get you. These negative thoughts go on and on day after day. You become irritable and depressed. You become angry and rage at your family and friends. You don’t want to be around people because you’re so upset; likewise, people don’t want to be around you because you’re negative and depressed. All of this started from a single negative thought.
Other situations. You’ve been chewed out at work. You’ve been fired. You’ve been turned down for a job. You don’t get a promotion. A negative thought pops in your head, do not replay the scene. You have an illness or an injury? Stop all negative thoughts about these. You got a parking ticket? You’ve been criticized? Do not replay these scenes in your mind. Move on to something else.
Solution. Stop the negative thought and this is what happens. You have an instant feeling of relief. Your whole body is relieved because you don’t have to relive the long depressing story again. Over time, the story will disappear from your memory. You free your mind to be healthy, more creative, and to lead an enjoyable life.
Call to action. Negative thoughts? Stop them and move on. Stop thinking negative thoughts for a healthy mind.
Gary R. Epler, M.D. in Boston
January 26, 2017
Leadership is not only for executives, managers, or the boss. Leadership is also needed for your life. Be the leader of your life. What makes a good leader? Positive communication, commitment, decision making, confidence, persistence, creativity, and honesty. These traits can be learned, and for best results, practiced in a self-sustaining and self-maintaining way.
Positive communication is interacting with people in a way that results in a positive feeling for both participants. Talking to coworkers, clerks, shop owners, and restaurant staff in a positive manner increases personal energy and feel-good neurotransmitters. Visualize two people talking, spouses, friends, or coworkers. One of them is excited about a huge event and can’t wait to tell the other person about it. The other person has four response options. The best is to respond with engagement, enthusiasm, and curiosity (demonstrated by asking questions). A second response is a passive “that’s nice,” not harmful but a missed opportunity for a good feeling for both people. A third response is harmful, which is to ignore the person’s excitement and one-up the conversation with a better or more exciting event. You may have been at a dinner party, work party, or a family get-together, and certain people will exhibit this response throughout the entire gathering. This is not an uplifting and pleasant social interaction. Finally, there is the fourth response: the destructive comment. This is a response such as “While you were having fun, I was stressed out trying to work” or “How much is this going to cost us?” and so forth. These caustic, angry responses usually come from people who are insecure and unhappy with their own lives. Use response number one for the best results. The first person gets to feel good about sharing an exciting event, and the second person feels good because of sharing an exciting experience. Eliminate one-up and destructive responses. There is no place for these responses in positive social interaction.
Commitment means always doing what you say you will do 100% of the time, with no exceptions. You say yes to a meeting, to a dinner party, to helping someone, or volunteering. Do it, even if a better offer comes along or you change your mind. There is no problem saying no. If you don’t want to do something or have a conflict, say no—say no to free tickets, no to an invitation, and even no to a request for help. This is meaningful for both participants, since saying yes and then not showing up is bad for everyone. This makes you feel bad and registers a negative feeling in your subconscious, it makes the other person doubt your character, and it lets down the other people involved in the situation. Say yes, and whatever it takes, do it.
Making decisions means make a decision as fast as possible, one way or the other. A good decision makes us feel good and most likely helps other people. A bad decision makes us feel bad, but we recover, learn something from it, and try another approach. It’s not the decision that’s bad, it’s the outcome. Making no decision is a problem. There is no progress, no forward action. This indecisiveness makes people look weak. This is especially important in your own life. When you are at a standstill, you can’t engage in life. Make a decision—whether it’s good or bad doesn’t make any difference. You can move forward and enjoy the decision or make another one, but you’re alive with energy and creativity from having done it.
Confidence is needed for a good leader. Do you like to follow someone who is weak and has no confidence in a decision, plan, or project? You feel bad when you have no confidence in yourself. Increasing your self-esteem is not enough. We have great self-esteem when everything is going well, but when things get tough, self-esteem jumps ship and abandons us. Use compassion for yourself; this never lets you down. Confidence comes from how much we like ourselves. How much are you willing to be your true self? In grade school, we want to be who our parents and teachers want us to be. Later we want to be who our friends want us to be, who our boss or spouse wants us to be, who society wants us to be—or worse, the perfect, flawless person that our mind wants us to be. It takes time, but be yourself. You’re free. This is freedom from blame, freedom from criticism, freedom from making bad decisions. This is you; there is no reason for complaining, blaming, making excuses, or criticizing.
Persistence is fundamental for continuing success in life. Psychologist and author Dr. Angela Duckworth uses the term “grit” to describe perseverance and passion. Grit consists of courage, which often means eliminating the fear of failure; endurance and follow-through; and resilience—the optimism and confidence required to bounce back from failure. It’s not concentrating on winning, it’s concentrating on doing your individual best. Grit also means not quitting because the task or project is too hard or someone told you to quit or that you’re not good enough. Stop because you have completed the project, the job, or reached your goal.
Creativity is the spice of life. This means using your mind to solve day-to-day problems and bumps. Using your mind to make things happen, to create projects for the community, to create products, to create solutions, create businesses, create enjoyment for yourself and for your family. Increase your creative ability, and you will improve your life and everyone else’s too.
Honesty and integrity are the foundations of a good leader. This is obvious for an executive or boss, but even more important is being honest with yourself at a private level. No exaggerations, no convenient forgetting, and no stretching the truth. Always be honest with yourself. No lies. No rationalizing. In many situations, the raw truth will be painful, and sometimes extremely painful, but recovery will occur. The ancient saying is correct: The truth will set you free.
Call to action. Learn and relearn these attributes of a good leader. Use them at work, when volunteering, at home, and most importantly, for yourself. Positive communication, commitment, decision making, confidence, persistence, creativity, and honesty. They will become self-sustainable, enabling you to live an extraordinary life with energy, meaning, success, and enjoyment.
Gary R. Epler, M.D. in Boston
December 06, 2016
Want to fall in love with your husband or wife, your girlfriend or boyfriend, or a first date? Do something that increases your heart rate, especially something requiring cooperation together, like keeping a kayak in a straight line. Go for a hike, climb a mountain, go on a bike path, ballroom dancing lessons, workout together, or go for a run together. That’s what happened to me. I was training for the New York Marathon along the Charles River in Boston and saw someone, my future wife Joan, coming my direction and made the U-turn. Our hearts were beating faster. It didn’t take long, a few moments, to fall in love.
This is what happens. The feel good hormones and neurotransmitters like endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine kick in from the exercise, and when two people exercise, the bonding hormone oxytocin is flowing. In addition, with exercise and increased heart rate, both of you are in the alpha-brain wave world of happiness and bliss. Joan and I ran the Greek Marathon for our first anniversary and our favorite memories were running the three 20-mile training runs to Wellesley and back to Boston the three Saturdays before the marathon. We were together in the alpha-brainwave meditation state, a fantasy world filled with love, joy and peace. The hot-fudge sundae at the end was also a big plus.
I was talking with my friend during a Cape Cod ocean swim telling him about increasing the heart rate to fall in love. This reminded him of his first date with his wife, they took ballroom dancing together, just the two of them. Heart rate increased, they fell in love, and were married within the year. My friend John hiked a mountain trail with someone new and fell in love.
There’s a bonus. You will create lifelong memories that you will both recall 10 years later, 20 years later, and forever. Remember nighttime skating on the Brookline Country Club pond, remember the New Hampshire hike with cranberry nut bread and Mozart’s music, and remember running by MIT during a Boston wintry nor’easter.
Want to enjoy life together? Fist date? Do something that will you increase your heart rates. Run together, stay together. Love is in the air.
Gary R. Epler, M.D.
Award-winning author of “Fuel for Life: Level-10 Energy”
November 03, 2016
Visualization is powerful.
We’ve been doing this since childhood. You need to do it right.
Visualize the process, not the goal. Books, seminars, courses, and motivational speakers talk about setting goals for success. When it comes to visualization, it doesn’t work. It delays reaching the goal and may even prevent ever reaching the goal.
Want an A on the exam? Visualize the process, not the A. For days, you visualize getting an A on the exam. You visualize the A when you brush your teeth, walking to class, and going for lunch. How could this be a problem? Everyone says this is a good idea. If visualizing the A is such a good idea, let's test it and find out. Tell 100 students to visualize the A on the exam for five days and compare their grade to 100 students who don’t visualize the A. The results: those who don’t visualize the A get a better grade! This is because students who get the good grades spend their time studying for the exam and not spending their time visualizing the A. This not only takes time, but the students who visualize the A have the feeling that they will get the A because the “universe” will help them. This is not a good feeling, it’s a false feeling of success, and a double bad feeling when the A doesn’t appear. Be the process-visualization students about getting an A and study.
Want a job? Visualize the process, not the job. People can spend hours visualizing their dream job – visualize talking about the offer, about the surroundings of the new job, about what they will do with the money, and about the feeling of success. How-to books and motivational gurus tell you this over and over. They give you thousands of success stories. It sounds so perfect, but it’s not. This is a waste of time and will take you away from attaining the job. Take 100 people who visualize their dream job compared to 100 people who don’t. People who don’t spend time visualizing the job used the time on the process of getting the job, and they get the job.
Want to make a million dollars? Visualize the process, not the million dollars. The “how-to” authors and speakers will tell you to visualize a million dollars, and it will appear. They tell you not to worry about how it will happen, the “universe” will take care of how it will happen. Visualize it, write it down, repeat it 100 times every day, post it on the mirror, and visualize the million dollars during meditation. It’s a secret, don’t tell anybody. All of this effort is time wasted. It’s a distraction. Every cell in your body knows what the goal is – no reminders are needed. Visualize the process, this will lead to success and you’ll feel better.
What happens when you visualize the process? Less stress and more enjoyment. The feeling of failure is eliminated because process is not a win-loss situation. Thinking about goals is stressful and not attaining the goal day after day is not good, a bad feeling in the stomach. It's a negative hope of attaining a goal that may never be reached. Thinking about the process is a continuous feeling of accomplishment and engagement not associated with failure or success, it’s not a competition with yourself to reach a goal. Working on the process results in positive feelings, engagement and meaning in life, accomplishments, and positive social interactions. Deal with process setbacks the same way. Don't think about the setback itself, move on to thinking about the process of getting back on track. Working on the process produces a comforting sense of well-being.
Action step: Visualization is good. It’s how we think. Visualize and think about the process for success, and enjoy the journey.
Gary R. Epler, M.D.
March 15, 2016
Machines are built to repair themselves, and so can you.
At any given time, people have something that needs some healing attention. Healing is the process of restoring physical health from injury or disease and restoring mental and emotional health. Healing is a state of mind, and you can use your mind to help with healing.
Two basic requirements. Before talking about healing, you need to do two things. First, learn everything you can about the anatomy of the injury or the mechanism of the disease process from your doctor and review of established evidence-based websites. Second, use your best medical treatment option available, such as antibiotics, medications or surgery. Ask your doctor questions about the injury or disease, about the diagnostic process, how to monitor the process, and the treatment options including the natural history of the process. Ask questions until you thoroughly understand the answers. This will help you be in charge of the situation and begin healing.
Use your mind for healing. You need to have a positive approach to the injury or illness. Tell yourself, you can take charge and successfully manage this situation. Remember, in some situations, you may not be able to cure it, but you can always manage it, and that’s good enough. Anger and a negative approach causes the neurolinguistic trap. This occurs from repeatedly thinking of and verbalizing anger and negative feelings (complaining) about the illness. This counterproductive activity establishes a bad neuropathway sending you down the road of perpetual aggravation and worsening the process. A positive approach neuropathway sends you down the road to strength and control. Use compassion as a companion approach. Have compassion, not anger, for your injury or diseased organ system.
Controlled breathing. Use controlled breathing. Breathe silently and equally in and out, without holding your breath at the top or the bottom of the breath. Move your lower abdomen out as you inhale, also called belly breaths. This will decrease stress which will help the healing process.
Visualization. This can be used to help healing especially while in the alpha- or theta-brainwave state. These relaxed brainwave states help manage fear which is a huge initial part of an injury or illness. There are several ways to use visualization, and you can develop your own. Here are four examples. First, mentally send healing energy to the specific body part that needs healing such as the elbow or knee or the organ system such as the heart. Learn about the anatomy or the illness because the more specific, the better. Second, visualize replacing dysfunctional and abnormal cells with new healthy cells. Begin with one cell, then two, four, eight until you reached millions. Third, visualize repairing damaged DNA in your cells as future cells will be healthy. Finally, with your mind, reignite your dormant healing genes involved in the injury or disease process.
Persist. The healing component of an injury or disease process can have a powerful influence in your life and if successful can restore your physical, mental, and emotional health. Healing is a state of mind, keep learning new ways to use your mind for healing.
Gary R. Epler, M.D.
October 22, 2015
Imagine having the feelings of joy, creativity, and confidence. These are wonderful, soothing feelings that we need every day especially during a personal downturn, loss of income, stress, or pain. How can we do this? It’s through meditation or what I call alpha-brainwave time.
What's alpha-brainwave time? It’s day dreaming. It’s meditation. It’s time when you are experiencing alpha brainwaves. We have several brainwave frequencies. Beta brainwave activity occurs during our typical waking day. Alpha brainwaves and theta brainwaves occur during light and moderate sleep. We require 15 minutes of very slow delta waves for deep sleep every night. Gamma waves are fast and may occur during peak performance. Wake up and unlock the benefits of alpha brainwaves. You can also learn to be in a theta brainwave state while awake for even greater benefits.
How do you do alpha-brainwave time? The traditional way is with sitting, eyes-closed meditation, which continues to be the gold standard. I prefer new eyes-open meditation that you can do while sitting, walking in the woods, walking or slowly jogging on a treadmill, swimming or during yoga. The Norwegians have a term “Friluftsliv” which is the alpha-brainwave feeling that develops being outside in free air.
5 benefits from alpha-brainwave time. First, alpha-brainwave time decreases stress by lowering your blood adrenaline levels. You go from the flight-or-fight state to the stay-and-play state. Second, meditation releases feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones including endorphin, dopamine, and serotonin. Third, meditation balances your left and right side of the brain. We need the left brain to function in society, but it’s rigid and dominant. Meditation shifts some of this activity to the right brain – the social and creative brain making a more enjoyable day. Fourth, people may depend on outside activities for pleasure and enjoyment, but this is an inside job – meditation brings that pleasure inside with no need for outside forces. Finally, science-based benefits of alpha-brainwave time include increasing mirror-neuron function that improves social interaction and increasing the life of telomeres at the end of your chromosomes for increased lifespan.
Take action: Learn everything you can about alpha-brainwave time and meditation. Learn the different ways and find one that is best for you. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes of alpha-brainwave time every day and especially when you face the inevitable personal downturns and stress. Alpha-brainwave time will give you energy, confidence, and joy. If you wish, watch "Who Knew Life was so Easy?"
Best-selling author of “Fuel for Life: Level-10 Energy” and upcoming book: “Universal Path to Health and Happiness: 15 Practices throughout the world."