The Power of the Mind

By Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.

We live in an amazing time in which science is proving the true power of the mind and catching up with what many used to believe was pseudoscience or deception. I grew up hearing about the power of the mind but thought it was just people trying to empower me—not anything biological or legitimate—that is, until I took my first psychology course.

Much of what I learned in psychology felt right and inspired me to question my reality and explore the field even more.  I was intrigued by the research being done on the power of visualization, positive thinking, and happiness. For example:

Your mind is so powerful that you can imagine yourself exercising and actually increase strength and muscle mass.

I know that some of you are reading this and thinking that it can’t be true. However, this is something that has been studied for decades now. I will share one if these studies here.

In 2004, the Cleveland Clinic conducted a study on mental exercises and the impact that it has on strength (in participants’ fingers and arms). They separated people into three groups and had them follow a protocol for 12 weeks. One group did the physical exercises. One group visualized doing the exercises. The last group did nothing. At the end they re-tested their strength. When it came to finger strength the group that physically did the exercises had a 53% increase in strength, the ones that visualized it had an increase of 35%, and the ones that did nothing had no significant change.

It is incredible to think that your thoughts are so powerful that simply visualizing exercising your finger can significantly increase your strength, without any physical movement.

They also found that arm strength increased by 13% through visualization. If your mind can do that, what else can it do for you that you may not be tapping into?

Many Times It Is Our Thoughts That Hold Us Back and Not Our Capabilities

The reality of this can be seen in the evolution of the “4-Minute Mile” (for runners). For a long time, it was believed that the human body was simply not capable of a 4-minute mile.  It wasn’t just dangerous; it was impossible. On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59. He collapse after the fact, as if his body and mind had accepted the dangers of running the 4-minute mile. The most important part is that just 2 months later Australia’s John Landy accomplished the same feet, and more followed soon after him. Seeing someone break the barrier convinced runners it was possible, and today it’s almost routine. In fact, even some high-schoolers have run a mile in under 4 minutes. Therefore, the barriers were not physical, but mental.

The Impact of Happiness is a Fact

At this point, there are hundreds of studies in the field of happiness, some of which have claimed that we live in the golden age of happiness, as our understanding is truly astonishing. A study conducted by McClelland & Kirchnit (1988) demonstrated that:

Just contemplating altruism leads to an immunity boost.

Another study by the University of New Hampshire demonstrated that happiness could keep us from contracting the common cold, and if we did get it we would recover much faster. There are many other studies that show happiness’ impact on creativity, health, success, relationships, wealth, and many other aspects in our life. And happiness is a state of MIND.

The powerful thing about many of these studies is that they show that happiness is a science and a choice. We can create happiness in our life. Like everything else, relationships do not improve by chance and success does not come by chance (even though sometimes from the outside it may seem that way because we don’t see everything that went into creating it). The same goes for happiness. It is a commitment to creating happy habits that drive our ability to be happy and receive the benefits from it.

It is not our capabilities or our available resources that limit us, it is our perception and the emotional state that we choose.

Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, coach trainer and professional speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit

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