Attitude: The Biology of Motivation and Performance

author : malvey
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You already know that attitude and what you believe about yourself has an incredible impact on what you accomplish.

You already know that attitude and what you believe about yourself has an incredible impact on what you accomplish. Most of you are way too young to remember the stunning event that rocked the running world in 1954. Until a guy named Roger Bannister came along, there was this thing people called the four minute mile “barrier.” Human beings, common wisdom said, just could not run a mile under four minutes. On May 6, 1954 Bannister ran a mile in 3:59.4 and another false barrier came tumbling down. Since that time, almost every major track competition has seen runners come in well under four minutes. When asked to explain his feat Bannister said, “It's the ability to take more out of yourself than you've got."

Is there anybody who visits BeginnerTriathlete.Com who does not hold the dream that we will take more out of ourselves – not so much more than we’ve got as more than we ever dreamed we had! Deep within our hearts is a huge, “Si se puede!” YES WE CAN! And here is the amazing truth I’m hoping every single one of us can get hold of. Positive attitude is more than a matter of correct thinking. As it turns out, emotions have a biological impact on our bodies.

Norman Cousins has documented the scientific basis of this thesis in his book, Head First: The Biology of Hope. Besides being a good read, Cousins’ book documents the amazing physical power of our emotional life. This should not be news to the medical community, although Cousins encountered plenty of resistance before he was finally appointed to the Medical College at UCLA. Hippocrates, father of medicine, insisted that medical students give full weight to the emotions, both as a contributing cause of disease and as a factor in recovery. How all of this relates to those of us who have fallen in love with the world of multisports will become evident quickly – but here are just a few of the amazing facts Cousins reports.

  • A few minutes of solid belly laughter can deliver an hour of pain free sleep for a hurting patient. The laughter causes the brain to release endorphins that have pain killing capabilities.

  • Anxiety and depression can slow or stop recovery from serious illness. Positive emotions can assist a damaged heart in repairing itself.

  • The main problems brought about by advancing age may well be connected to negative emotions.

  • The main problems brought about by advancing age may well be connected to negative emotions.

  • Cancer patients who participated in both medical treatment and a class on dealing positively with their disease showed a clinically significant increase in the production of Leu-seven cells which are one of the natural killer cells in the immune system that help to destroy cancer cells.

  • Medical patients tend to move along the path of their expectations, whether on the upside or on the downside.

  • Positive engagement of a challenge enhances the body’s capacity to heal itself and to gain new levels of health.

Hope changes things. Cousins quotes William Buckholz M.D.’s report of two oncologists discussing their treatment methods. One asks the other why he is getting a 74% positive response rate to drugs while he gets only a 22% response from the same drugs. The answer? The doctor who is getting the more positive response says, “We’re both using Etoposide, Platinol, Oncovin, and Hydroxyurea. You call yours EPOH. I tell my patients I’m giving them HOPE.” The short form of the story is that when people have hopeful expectations, the brain’s drug producing capacity makes a difference in positive outcomes.

The implications are clear for triathletes. When an injury sidelines you (and injuries are an occupational hazard for athletes), do you hit a negative slide and begin the downward spiral, or do you get educated on what works best and begin the upward journey toward quicker recovery? When you read about the accomplishments of our more gifted sister and brother triathletes, do you see impossible barriers or inspiring goals? When set backs occur, do you confront them as barriers or as simply another opportunity to amaze yourself?

We are right at the first anniversary of Beginner Triathlete. Soon there will be wonderful threads in our forums where people who once thought the notion of a triathlon was darn near impossible share the good news of completed events. Beginning with a handful of people, BT is growing into a community of thousands who can have a major impact on our culture. For the most part, we are not elite athletes who have a room full of awards and trophies. We are the average Joe and Mary who dared to believe that we could make a real difference in our well being. Believe it! Fitness is not for the few – it is for anyone who will begin to move their mind to the good side of what works and enlist the brain’s amazing capacity to provide everything we need in the way of health producing drugs.

Peak performance will come for us, not so much because we are the super gifted elite athletes that come along now and then – but rather because we dared to believe that we could be a whole heck of a lot more than we’ve let ourselves be until this point. And don’t you know it – there will come some elite athletes out of our group and we will be there to cheer them on. You gotta believe. And when you believe, you will perform. You already have everything you need to succeed. You have your attitude. You are in control of your attitude. You have a brain that will supply all the nutrients and drugs you need to succeed. And you have Beginnertriathlete.Com.

No way in hell they will stop you tiger!

Si se puede!

Yes we Can!


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date: August 31, 2004


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