Here is the full transcript of business coach Penny Zenker’s talk titled “The Energy of Thought” at TEDxPSUBehrend conference. Penny Zenker is a strategic business coach, trainer and best-selling author of “The Productivity Zone: Stop the Tug of War with Time”.
Penny Zenker – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
What would you say if I told you that you have the power to manipulate time? Would you believe me? Good.
So this is a scene from the movie The Matrix. And this is where Neo, the main character, he slows down time and he dodges those bullets in a single moment.
Okay, critics, he’s not really slowing down time but he is thinking and acting wicked fast. And so it appears as though time is slowing down.
What I love about this scene is that he doesn’t even know or believe that he’s the one and that he has this power. And so you know right after the scene, Trinity, his partner in resistance, says to him, “You were just as fast as the agents.”
In disbelief he puts a finger through the hole where the bullet went through in his pants and he said “Not fast enough.”
So this is a great metaphor for you, because you have that power, too. You just don’t know how to use it yet.
Now as I said it’s not really about time; it’s about managing the energy of our thought. It’s about making the unconscious conscious.
Because when we create awareness, we open up options and opportunities, and in effect, dodge those bullets. Because you can’t change your circumstances in most cases. But you can change the way you interact with it. And that’s what Neo is doing in the moment.
Einstein said that everything is energy, and I believe when you turn that statement around it’s also true energy is everything. How energy flows through us and how we manage our energy directly dictates the quality of our life.
And we manage our energy through thoughts. Thoughts are energy. But really don’t take it from me, take it from the scientists who have done study after study after study that say that our thoughts, our judgments, and our perceptions, they directly impact our body and vice versa.
One of my favorite authors in this space is Kelly McGonigal, and she’s written this book called The Upside of Stress. She is a health psychologist and through the book she tells people that stress is bad for you only if you believe it is. I know that’s crazy, right? She used to tell people that stress was bad for you all the time and tell them it would create illness… until she did the research.
One particular study that stood out for her that really changed her mind was that they tracked 30,000 people over eight years. And they asked them about their levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, in their body. They measured that. They asked them about the levels of stress that they had and also what they believed about stress.
And so what they came up with in their results were that people who had a high level of stress in the past year were 43% more likely to die prematurely… but only those who believed that stress was bad for you.
Those that didn’t believe that stress was bad for you actually had no greater risk of dying prematurely than those who had very little to no stress.
And then really what made this that much more impactful for me was I had my own experience. It became real.
This is my son Ethan; he’s 12. And last year in January he came down with an acute sense of anxiety. He couldn’t go to school; he couldn’t interact with his friends. He couldn’t function.
So we went to see a psychiatrist. And in this first session that we had, she was helping us to understand a little bit about how anxiety affects the body and the mind.
So she asked when we first got there to play a little game and go ahead and spin around a couple times right, so spun around and spun around and then you know he was like this and she said, “So do you do you feel your heart racing? Do you feel dizzy in your head and queasy in your stomach?”
And he’s like yeah.
And she said, “Are these the same symptoms that you feel when you feel anxiety?”
And he thought about it and he said yeah.
She said, “Notice that when you feel it in this moment, it’s funny. But when you feel it when you’re going to school or you’re going to interact with your friends, it’s debilitating and it only grows when you feel it.”
And he’s like yeah.
And then it hit me. It matters what he believes about stress. And given that it matters what we think about anything and everything.
Another great example of how our thoughts impact our results is with the placebo effect. So some of you have heard about it; some of you may have experienced it. This little sugar pill that has the same biological impact, that the actual medication has, how’s that possible?
It’s possible because people believe that it will work. Positive thinking leads to positive results. So the opposite is also true, that negative thinking leads to negative results. And that has a name it’s called the nocebo effect. I know, right?
So that is why it is so critical — critical that you know how to manage the energy of your thought. So let’s think about and learn about thoughts. Our thoughts. The National Science Foundation tells us that we have 70,000 thoughts a day. 70,000! That’s like a thought every second.