I was talking to a friend of mine the other who had a rather interesting experience recently. He was telling about this stage hypnosis seminar that he went to. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a life stage hypnotist, but they can be pretty funny. People can do some funny things when under some kind of hypnotic trance. There was one guy who, every time the hypnotists said his name, he would automatically look out over the audience and see everybody without any clothes on. The audience got a kick out of that. There were other things like counting to ten and forgetting all the odd numbers, thinking their feet were glued to the floor, and thinking that they were professional singers. One of the most interesting things was at the end, when all the people that volunteered were given their post hypnotic suggestion as a thank you for volunteering. The hypnotist said:
From now on, every night you will have a full, restful sleep. You will fall asleep quickly and easily, and wake up refreshed and feeling positive and happy. You will always have wonderful dreams that will satisfy your every fantasy, even those you are too shy to share with your closest friend.
Because everybody saw how readily they took all the other suggestions, like clucking like a chicken and having joints made out of wood, everybody assumed, correctly, that they would take the above suggestion as well. And I imagine that suddenly everybody was thinking the same thing that I was at that time:
“Dang, I wish I would have volunteered!”
Of course, had the hypnotist told everybody what a wonderful post hypnotic suggestion he was going to give, and what a wonderful experience it was going to be, then everybody would have volunteered. Instead of relaxing and watching the show, people would have been wishing it were them up there. Because the hypnotist obviously knew what he was doing, he created the allusion that volunteering was scary and dangerous. So when people were watching the show, they could all think, “I’m sure glad that’s not me!” Of course this turned into, “I wish that were me!” at the end.
Of course, that’s how risk usually works. If you knew you were going to be successful going into something, it wouldn’t be risky, and everybody would be doing it. What separates the winners from the not so much winners, (or however you want to categorize ourselves) is that people that take measured risks, generally have a better life. Sure, sometimes they get embarrassed, or lose a few dollars, or look foolish in front of others, but they always seem to bounce back and learn from the experience. And the times that they do succeed, the rewards are enormous. It seems that people that make a habit of taking measured risks only need one or two successful outcomes to keep their belief in themselves up.
I was playing golf with a guy once who didn’t keep score. I asked him why not, and he said that if he kept score it would only frustrate him. I asked him what he looks forward to, if it wasn’t a good score, and he said the pleasure of hitting a good shot. He said the combination of the physical feeling of a nice swing, combined with the visual result of the ball landing on the green was a wonderful experience, and that he didn’t need to write down a number to record it. The experience was enough. I was surprised when he said he only made one or two shots like that during one round of golf, which judging by his skill level, was easily over a hundred shots per round. I asked him if all the other not-so-great shots frustrated him, and he said that going into each shot, he only focused on a potential good outcome. If he didn’t get one, he would immediately start thinking about the next shot, and forget the ball his just hit over the fence or into the water. I thought that was a pretty good strategy. He seemed to enjoy playing golf more than most people I’ve played with.
My friend said that one of the most interesting things about the seminar is that it is held in Bangkok, Thailand. The instructor always has this particular course (once a year or so) in an exotic location. The reason for this, my friend explained, was that even if you are not up on stage forgetting all the numbers between one and ten, most people are walking around in a hypnotic trance of some sort. If you are ever focusing on something to the exclusion of other things around you, you are in trance. It is unavoidable. The secret is to make sure your trances are positive and life affirming, like the golfer who only focused on positive outcomes. If you walk around thinking about your ball going in the lake, or that girl rejecting your advances, or that business venture you are thinking of failing, you won’t be very happy. On the other hand, if you focus on a good green landing, or a smile and a phone number, or a successful business, and keep these thoughts in your head despite what happens, you’ll do pretty good.