(2nd Edition Book Excerpts)
I got the idea for Accelerated-State Conditioning (ASC), clear back in1976, but it's taken me literally a lifetime, to develop its full potential. Finally though, I'm happy to say, I feel I've come up with a fast, easy, fun, yet extremely powerful tool for rapidly and dram-atically elevating mood and permanently changing behavior and emotions. A motivational routine that is, I'm hopeful you'll agree, truly unique and yes, perhaps even revolutionary.
Mood is pretty straight-forward but what's meant by the word behavior? Well, for me, behavior actually covers a pretty wide area, to include habits, compulsions, addictions and even emotional reactions like fear, anxiety, phobias and depression.
The basic idea for the ASC routine came to me quite by accident many years ago while working as a residential Realtor, listing and selling homes. Unfortunately, I wasn't doing very well; my biggest problems being shyness, obesity and depression.
Being reluctant to make sales-calls I found myself making up every excuse in the book not to get out and make “cold calls, especially the dreaded "for-sale-by-owners" and knocking on strangers doors in my chosen "farm/neighborhood" area.
And to top it all off, I had a severe case of "stage fright". I can still remember my first toastmasters meeting. When it was my turn to get up to introduce myself, nothing came out of my mouth. I literally froze; I was so petrified I had to sit back down in my seat without saying a word.
Anyway, late one evening, while alone in my real estate office, I was practicing what's called a “listing presentation”. It's a motivational talk, or “sales pitch”, if you will, designed to impress a prospective home seller with your sales skills, in the hopes of convincing them to put their home up for sale with you. To "list" their home for sale with you and your company, "exclusively".
I was speaking outloud, while looking into a mirror of sorts that had been formed by the interior lights reflecting off the large plate glass windows in front. After perhaps 40 or 50 minutes of “huffing and puffing”, I started to notice some changes in how I was feeling and how I was acting.
My voice seemed to be "projecting" better. And, although the volume was increasing, my voice wasn't “cracking” quite like it usually did when speaking in public. My gestures were becoming more animated, more lively and my eye contact in the mirror felt a lot better. Normally I didn't care much for looking at myself in the mirror but I was getting comfortable with it.
And, I was feeling more relaxed yet cheerful, upbeat, confident and with these new feelings came a more natural and spontaneous smile, not a forced one.
Then, I started getting excited; I remember thinking, wow, maybe I really can make it in home sales. Maybe I've found a way to permanently overcome excruciating shyness in an hour or less, just get in front of a mirror, start smiling and talking outloud.
And I'm starting to envision success. Think back on where I said I was coming from. A place of weakness; and all of a sudden I'm having all these positive feelings and behavior. It's like I''m a different person. And I'm thinking, where'd this guy come from?
Well, would you care to venture a guess as to what had happened to me that evening? Why was to why I was feeling and acting so differently after talking out loud while smiling into a mirror; for close to an hour?
Well I think I was getting "high". I think I was experiencing what people refer to as a “natural high”, like a “runners high” or “stage-performers high” in this case.
But why was I getting high? I certainly hadn't been drinking or taking any drugs, (more on this later).
Now, of course I eventually calmed back down after that evening's experience and I resorted to some of my old feelings and behavior; but there were some subtle, yet permanent changes in me from that evening forward.
For one thing, "my eye contact" with others was always better after that experience. For another, I had much less fear of making sales calls or getting onto a stage.
I started paying a little more attention to my diet. I began feeling more optimistic and started listing more homes after that evenings experience. And, I became a better salesperson using the new insight, knowledge and skills developed from that extraordinary evenings experience.
After that evening, I used that "mirror technique" to elevate my mood and confidence frequently, especially before going out on listing appointments, to knock on doors (remember this was 40 years ago when salespeople did that with relative safety) or to show homes to potential buyers.
But of course now-a-days this is not so new. Many of us are aware of the ability to elevate mood and confidence by “pumping ourselves up”; by and speaking out loud while looking into a mirror and smiling. But this was over 35 years ago; it was not that common then, and it was definitely a new experience for me. And of course, more importantly to me, because I was competing with other salespeople who didn't have the emotional/behavioral handicaps I had.
So, as I say, things got better, but then, a later on, I made another accidental discovery that eventually proved to be even more significant. I noticed, during my mood elevating sessions in front of the mirror, that I would occasionally experience one or more episodes of "frisson". There is more than one form of frisson but, I'm referring to the extremely pleasurable physical response we experience, and commonly call "goosebumps", “chills”, “shudders”, "bang" or “rush”.
When I experience frisson, I usually get pleasurable goosebumps and chills up and down my spine, from the top of my head clear down to the bottom of my feet. And it feels great and usually is associated with a significant elevation in my mood.
Well, to get back to my story, when I would experienced one or more chills during the ASC routine I noticed I would reach my goal of the “natural high”, the confident, upbeat mood, the feelings of mild euphoria, faster. And this of course cut down on the time spent doing the ASC routine.
So I started thinking, if I could "deliberately" create these episodes of frisson, in other words if, I could evoke (create) them "at will", during the ASC routine, I could cut down of the amount time it took me to get “pumped up”; to reach the “natural high” I sought.
And, as luck would have it, again quite by accident, I experienced my most important discovery.The discovery that I'm sharing with you here and now. I learned that I could in fact, "trigger" frisson episodes at will. I learned I could create goosebumps or chills deliberately. (The exact method to evoke frisson, at will, is detailed in a later chapter).
And not just one episode, I learned I could string several of these “mood elevating chills” together, one right after another; "rolling chills" if you will; for an even faster, more dramatic, more powerful and longer lasting “natural high”.
And now, recent research at McGill University in Canada (Salimpoor 2011) (1) has demonstrated a probable "link" between "episodes of frisson" and an elevation in blood levels of the most important chemical in the body associated with positive emotion and motivation. And what chemical would that be? You guessed it, dopamine, by far the most heavily researched "chemical of positive emotion" found in the brain and body and associated with pleasure and motivation.
So, to repeat; episodes of frisson (artists and musicians get them a lot and you can too) have been linked to significant elevations in blood levels of endogenous (natural) dopamine. No wonder "goosebumps" can feel so darn good.
Now, what would be the advantage of being able to increase your dopamine levels to any degree and at any time you wish? Well for one (of many) thing, because now we you have a powerful internal "dopamine pump" once you learn how to evoke it with the 5-minute daily motivational routine that evolved from this insight, Accelerated-State Conditioning.
Another important reason is that depleted levels of dopamine in the brain and body are linked to all kinds of disease, including Parkinson's, depression, alcoholism, obesity, drug addiction and almost all unwanted cravings can be linked to dopamine depletion.
What causes all of this dopamine depletion? Unfortunately, all the negatives in life to include stress, anxiety, depression, poor diet, lack of exercise; the list is extensive.
But now, with the ASC motivational routine you'll have a way to elevate dopamine levels and positive emotion in minutes. Some times I can create 10 or 15 chills in under one minute.
And this is why I promote Accelerated-State Conditioning (ASC) as a fast daily motivational routine. Because in just a few moments (once you've fully mastered the routine) you can change your internal chemistry in a positive way. Technically, I could promote it as a one minute routine but people wouldn't believe it.
Alright, let's shift gears here now, because, I realize some of you aren't interested in tools for elevating mood, (although, as you may agree there are dozens of health and emotional advantages to creating a natural high, for a minutes a day, that most people are not aware of).
But I think you'll agree, most of us are interested though in changing behavior. Behaviors like those we listed earlier to include unwanted habits, compulsions, addictions, fears, phobias, etc..
And perhaps you'll agree, even when these things aren't a problem, a lot of people wouldn't mind getting out of their comfort zone or finding a new sense of purpose, especially if it could be done easily and without a lot of suffering. If it didn't require a lot of “white knuckling? or "will power".
This is where the second part of the ASC routine becomes important. The sub-routine of ASC I call SuprAffs, a name I made up meaning Super Affirmations.
For those unfamiliar, affirmations are statements of intent that, when repeated over a period of time, can work on the sub-conscious mind, resulting in a permanent change of behavior.
They're a form of auto-suggestion or self-hypnosis. But not all affirmations are alike. Many, if not most, don't work in my experience to alter behavior in fact can often even work against us. But SuprAffs do work, and you will get an idea as to why in a minute.
Although I originally used ASC to primarily elevate mood and confidence, I quickly learned that I could use positive affirmations during the routine to change my behavior and habits as well.
So frequently, instead of practicing a listing presentation, I would repeat long lists of positive words, phrases and affirmations that I found in books like Self-Talk to try to change my behavior.
Well, I was getting some results over time but I started noticing in recent years that affirmations were more effective if they contained five essential attributes. And I started calling these special affirmations SuprAffs.
The first and most important attribute of a SuprAff is that it be "believable". When you repeat an affirmation that you don't especially believe you're probably creating more problems than you are solving. An affirmation such as "I'm rich & powerful" (when in fact you're flat broke and helpless) actually may work against you, by creating a negative response sub-consciously.
Therefore, if your goal is to become "financially stable" you're much better off to repeat affirmations like "I like it when I save 5% of my income monthly”; or "I like it when I allow enough time in my schedule to work a small side job”, “I like it when I read books on wealth creation daily”, etc..
The second most important attribute of a SuprAff is that it be "specific". When you repeat a positive affirmation, the more specific the wording is, the more likely it will be effective; the more likely it will effect the subconscious. For example, instead of saying "I like it when I watch my weight, a more specific affirmation might be "I LIKE it when I weigh myself every morning and record the results in a log".
The third attribute of a SuprAff is that it's repeated while "visualizing" that which you are trying to bring about. So, if your positive affirmation is about weight control and you want to establish the habit of weighing daily then you could picture yourself on the scale while repeating the SuprAff.
The fourth attribute of a SuprAff is that it's repeated while in state of "elevated, positive emotion". There is evidence that learning can be brought about faster and more effectively when in an elevated positive mood and during an emotional moment.
However, if you don't want to create frisson you can use some other method of elevating your mood before using SuprAffs. Perhaps listening to some uplifting music first.The key is creating some positive emotion so that memory is more likely to take place.
And lastly, SuprAffs are ideally repeated (preferably outloud), "three (3) times daily" (for example, morning, afternoons and evenings) until the unwanted habit is eliminated or the new habit is well established. Sixty (66) days is about average for habit formation according to the latest studies but some partial changes will often start right away.
Unfortunately, it takes time to change behavior (habits, emotional responses, etc.) but if you give up to soon, repeating affirmations (SuprAffs) aren't going to help you.
SuprAffs help change habits by using a basic law of nature; “what you think about, you bring about”. Once you learn how to "structure" good SuprAffs using the guidelines above, you can "customize" your own for better results depending on your current daily goals.
So, study this book, especially the section on how to "trigger frisson" and you will be well on your way to feeling positive for the most part, and obtaining successful habits of your choice.