Be An Air Force Pilot! What?


Wow, I just read a short article by Brian Johnson of The Optimizer and it reminded me of a previous post I did about the placebo effect, which is such a fascinating topic and phenomenon. If creating greater health and well-being in your life is a goal of yours, don’t forget that the mind can be and is one of your best self-help health tools!


Vance couple selected to pilot B-2s > U.S. Air Force > Article Display


“When we see mind and body as parts of a single entity, the research on placebos takes on new meaning and suggests we can not only control much of our disease experience, but we may also be able to extend our ability to gain, recover, or enhance our health.

Placebos often come in the form of a single word that captures a richer mindset. In one study I conducted with my students, we explored the mindset most of us have regarding excellent vision air force pilots have. All participants were given a vision test. One group of participants were then encouraged to role-play “air force pilots.” They dressed the part and, in uniform, sat in a flight simulator. They were asked to read the letters on the wing of a nearby plane, which were actually part of an eye chart. Those participants who adopted the “pilot” mindset, primed to have excellent vision, showed improved vision over those who were simulating being in the simulator and simply asked to read an eye chart from the same distance.”

—Ellen Langer from Counterclockwise

Imagine that.

Two groups. One group role-plays being an air force pilot. The other group does not. And… The role-playing pilots suddenly have better vision! (Wow.)

Think about that for a moment longer. Simply imagining you’re playing the part of a pilot LITERALLY (and instantly) improves your vision.

In his classic The Inner Game of Tennis, Tim Gallwey tells us that one of the best ways to get your mind right and improve your tennis is to simply act the part of a great tennis player. Move the way he or she would move, act with that confidence, invite those qualities in that you admire. And, voilà. Your performance goes up. Very much like our make-believe pilots and their vision, eh?

Langer dedicates an entire chapter to the power of words and how easily our behaviors can be changed with simple primes. For example, you can give people a crossword puzzle that has words associated with old age and they will walk more slowly to the elevator following the study than those who were not primed. (*rubs eyes*)

Here’s another fascinating study (the book is *packed* with them): Imagine testing Asian women on math. The stereotype of Asians is that they are good at math. The stereotype of women is that they are not good at math.

Get this: If you prime Asian women to think about their gender as women, their math test scores will drop. If you prime them to think about their ethnicity as Asian, their scores will soar.

Begs the question: With what are you priming yourself throughout your day?!

Related Self-help Health post:


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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.


4 thoughts on “Be An Air Force Pilot! What?

  1. The Happy Healthy Kiwi says:

    Very interesting! I personally noticed that when I consciously made the effort to can negative thoughts my life ‘got better’. The mind truly is an amazing thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zirah1 says:

      Yep, canning negative thoughts and/or becoming more aware of our thoughts and questioning whether they are really serving to create what we want in life or not can have a huge impact.Bravo for you!

      p.s. Love the name the Happy Healthy Kiwi. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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