The Placebo Effect and Happiness


We’ve often heard about the placebo effect in scientific studies but how does this affect our happiness?

The placebo effect in this respect is when a patient reacts to a drug believing that it’s having a positive effect on them despite it having no power whatsoever.

In 1972, a group of athletes were told they’d be taking steroids for 11 weeks and they’d be monitored on how the steroids affected their ability to lift weights. The athletes didn’t know that the pills they were taking were empty and had no effect whatsoever on their muscle capacity.

What came next was pretty amazing. All the athletes smashed their personal best records with some lifting 7 times the weight they previously lifted. The evidence was clear – every athlete got stronger simply because they believed they were on steroids. They expected to improve and so they did.

So how is this connected with our own happiness? Well, it clearly demonstrates the power of our mindset. If we truly believe we are capable of doing something, our mind will find a way to make it work.

It not only shows the power of a positive mindset but it can also show us the power of a negative mindset. Being positive about ourselves or holding negative beliefs can be the difference between achieving our own happiness or adapting to low self-worth and a belief that we are unable to get where we want to be which is ultimately to be happy.

It shows that it’s important to cultivate these negative perspectives into more positive thoughts and beliefs as we often don’t realise the real power we have in controlling our happiness and mental well-being.

We all have a default level of performance but the placebo effect illustrates that we are much more capable than our default mind allows us to be. Think about what you could achieve just by choosing to believe certain things – whether it’s how you think about yourself or your capabilities. Believing you aren’t good enough could potentially close many wide, open doors ready to let you through to your happiness.

Without that experiment, the athletes may never have achieved the weight they lifted. Many may have lived out their weight-lifting days believing it just wasn’t possible when it was all along – they just had to believe it.

So next time a negative feeling crosses your mind, stop and think how that’s truly affecting you and choose to replace it with a more positive affirmation. Remember, you have untapped potential inside you and it is just waiting to come out 🙂