Today’s blog is based on some interesting research that we will be putting into our new book which will be released fall 2020 when I’m 65, and just prior to me attempting Ironman Cozumel. I wanted to release it before that just in case. I am fascinated by how our minds work, and how powerful our minds can be. One of our goals should be to use our minds to our advantage so we can create a better retirement for ourselves.
The importance of believing in the right things
Retirees have create their own world view based on their years of experience. These experience create a set of beliefs, which once established can become a self-fulfilling truth. A Stanford University study published December 10th, 2018 in Nature Human Behaviour concluded that what a person believes to be true will alter their physiological response. An example, if you believe your retirement will suck, guess what it will. But if on the other hand if you have a positive attitude and follow the retirement principles odds are you will live longer and be happier than most. In the end, it’s all about expectation.
The placebo effect
Studies suggest that 60 – 90% of drugs and other therapies prescribed by physicians depend on the placebo effect and patient belief for its effectiveness. (Kam-Hansen and others Science Traditional Medicine Jan 2014, Nesbitt Shaner 1999, Benson & Freedman 1996). The strength of the “placebo effect” was demonstrated in a study published in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine” in 2006. The study involved 1007 patients with severe knee arthritis. One group was given “real” acupuncture therapy while another group was given “fake” acupuncture. The study found an improvement in 53% of the patients in the real-acupuncture group versus 51% in the simulated-acupuncture group showing fake acupuncture was as effective as real acupuncture due to the placebo effect. Seems crazy and we are not done yet.
Another study by Erin M. Shackell and Lionel G. Standing at Bishop’s University found that by thinking you were doing an exercise produced nearly identical gains in strength and fitness as actually doing the exercise. The study measured the strength gains in three different groups of people. The first group just followed their regular workout routine. The second group was put through two weeks of highly focused strength training, three times a week. The third group listened to audio CDs that had them imagining themselves going through the same workout as the second group. The results from this study were amazing and also scary if you happened to own a gym!! The first group which just did what they always did saw no gains in strength. The second group, who did the specialized workouts experienced a 28% gain in strength. But, the third group that did not physically exercise but only visualized doing the workout done by group two experienced a 24% gain in strength which was close to the result produced by group two. How could that happen without having to sweat? And the answer is that the placebo effect is so powerful that it changes the way our brain and body works, and because of that it can provide a nearly equivalent strength-building benefit as actually working-out. I know it sounds wacky but it’s hard to argue with results. Another study done by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer published in Psychological Science Feb 2007 clearly demonstrated how the placebo effect is attributed to a person’s beliefs and expectations. In this study one group of housekeeping staff in a major hotel were told that what they did on a daily basis qualified as the amount of exercise needed to be fit and healthy. They didn’t make any changes in behaviour they just kept doing their job the same way they always did and surprisingly four weeks later, those housekeepers had lost weight, had lower blood and improved their BMI’s (Body Mass Index). A similar group of housekeepers who had not been led to believe their job qualified as exercise saw none of these changes experienced by the test group. Just by believing their jobs were exercise caused their bodies to change for the better. So should you stop exercising and just visualize instead?
It all depends on the strength of your belief. While a “visualized” workout or believing that cleaning is exercise may yield good results for some people, (notice the emphasis on the word may), if you have any doubt in what you are doing chances are not much will happen. I talked to the Contessa about the Harvard study saying that instead of paying for a personal trainer she should just get rid of our cleaning lady and clean the house herself but she wouldn’t buy into it.
The Key To Retirement Success
Retirement success is directly impacted by the belief and expectation that what we are doing works. If you believe strongly enough that you can complete an Ironman, based on the placebo effect your mind will have your body respond accordingly. To achieve the best possible outcome you then need to leverage the placebo effect by doing the required exercise which will amplify the overall results. Hopefully I will be able to validate this after attempting Ironman Cozumel. Bets anyone?
The placebo effect shows us how strong the human mind is but the danger is this strength of belief could also cause us a lot of problems. For instance if you know that eating too much red meat or drinking too much is harmful and could result in you getting cancer, and you keep doing it, you actually increase your risk of getting cancer because you believe it to be true.
It’s important to know and believe in what you need to do and not do. Believing in the retirement principles will help you similar to the results in the exercise study but because you have made them a part of your lifestyle the affect is even more powerful and will magnify the outcome from what you are doing. By believing in them you will become more disciplined, more committed, try harder and be able to find the strength to push through whenever there is a bump in the road.Follow them religiously and you will have an awesome retirement it’s not more complicated than that.