Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Power of Naming (or Renaming)

Harvard University recently published a study in which it divided 84 female hotel workers into two groups, and monitored the fitness level of each group for four weeks. Both groups were instructed to simply follow their regular workday routine, with no additional exercise. However, at the beginning of the study one of the groups was informed about how their ordinary work activities (cleaning, making beds, etc.) actually amounted to a form of exercise, and fulfilled the recommendations for daily activity levels in healthy people. The other group served as a control group, and was not given this information.

Although neither group changed its behavior, the women who were conscious of the fact that their work activities amounted to exercise experienced a significant drop in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index in just four weeks. The control group experienced no improvements, although they were engaged in exactly the same physical activities.

This study illustrates the profound transformational impact our perspective and awareness has on our results. How you choose to look at something--that is, how you "name" it (in this case for example, naming their work activities as "exercise" instead of simply "my job")--has significant power to either lead you toward real change and growth, or to keep you stuck in the status quo.

Where is your perspective holding you back from real, significant life change? Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs in life come from simply "renaming" a perceived weakness as a strength, or a perceived burden as a stepping stone to a better life.

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