Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tip#332: Your Thoughts Have So Much Power – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

These past few weeks have been filled with forward momentum for taking my motivational business to the next level. So it was a surprise when I suddenly woke up one morning feeling stuck and sluggish. My focus and optimism dropped despite my wishes to stay productive. I felt helpless.

Looking back now from a different perspective I recognized I needed to take time out to learn more about Positive Psychology from an email I received that same morning. It was a daily motivational tip from Dr. Robert Anthony on optimism and pessimism and it reminded me that we can all overcome adversities by transforming our mindsets.

Reading this tip increased my positive emotional energy enough to research more about the book Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology. Seligman's 2 key studies that helped transform the negative mindset I was experiencing were "learned helplessness" and "explanatory style". He says...

"Learned helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen. It is the great modulator of learned helplessness. An optimistic explanatory style stops helplessness, whereas a pessimistic explanatory style spreads helplessness."

So the insight from my "feeling stuck" experience was the important reminder that we can all increase the positive thoughts we think and say to ourselves. You can save yourself with the thoughts you choose.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004

There is a powerful scene from the movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanthat demonstrates the saving of our selves. In a key scene where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is losing a battle with a swarm of creatures called Dementors, he is saved by a magical, luminous spell from what he believes to be his long dead father.

Through the opportunity to time-travel back and see the battle from a different perspective Harry has a revelation. He realizes that it was not his father that saved him but himself. It was his future self that saved Harry. The revelation came when his father eventually did not appear and Harry instead stepped in to cast the spell he had originally witnessed that saved him.

Turn Your Heaviness Around

So when you are feeling stuck and helpless remember that you have the ability to save yourself. You just need to believe and choose that you can increase your optimism with your own thoughts. You can turn your heaviness around by focusing on positive thoughts and feelings. Remember Napolean Hill's quote: "What you focus on expands."

Your thoughts have so much power. Start embracing that concept and you'll discover you already have the magic you need to face your challenges with confidence and unlimited optimism.

See a great overview of Seligman’s Learned Optimism and a free 20 minute audio summary go to Brian Johnson's Philosophers Notes site:

See Dr. Martin Seligman’s main site:

Related Tips:
Tip#179: Important Messages From The Kid - Disney's The Kid
Tip#332: Your Thoughts Have So Much Power – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Tip#1002: Your Thoughts Have So Much Power, Part 2 – Doctor Strange
Tip#1027: Your Thoughts Have So Much Power, Part 3 – Catastrophic Thinking - Split
Tip#1036: Your Thoughts Have So Much Power, Part 4 – Anxiety - The Space Between Us
Tip#445: Everything is Going To Be Okay - Source Code 
Tip#499: Choose A Future - Mr. Nobody
Tip#506: Time Travel & Alternate Reality Movies – 4 Hidden Gems
Tip#549: Yes, You Can Alter Your Reality - Men in Black 3
Tip#587: If You Could Talk To Your Younger Self What Would You Say? – Looper
Tip#590: Expand Your Mind with Time Travel Movies, Pt.1 - The Time Traveler’s Wife
Tip#759: Expand Your Mind with Time Travel Movies, Pt 2 - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Tip#682: What if You Could Go Back in Time? - Back to the Future Trilogy
Tip#551: Activate Your Imagination Through Movies, Part 1 – Prometheus
Tip#777: Activate Your Imagination Through Movies, Part 2 - Lucy
Tip#748: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 1 - After the Dark 
Tip#772: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 2 – The Congress - Under the Skin
Tip#778: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 3 – I Origins
Tip#789: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 4 – Coherence
Tip#790: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 5 - Frequencies
Tip#803: Expand Your Mind with Science Fiction, Part 6 – Interstellar


Emmanuel Lopez-Motivatorman
Motivational Specialist
For Individuals & Organizations

© Emmanuel Lopez 2010


Head Health Nutter said...

Being a psychology major, this post really resonates with me, Emmanuel. Thank you. And, of course, who doesn't love the Harry Potter movies!?

Next time I'm feeling heavy and overwhelmed with negativity, I'll keep this post in mind.

I will stop, recognize how I'm feeling and remind myself that how I'm viewing this situation is just a story in my mind. I'll then purposefully change that story into something more positive by asking myself, "What do I want to see in this situation?" Then I'll take some action that will help me move closer to getting that ideal outcome.

Thanks, again, Emmanuel, for sharing your experiences and insights with us!

Steph @ Live

Marie-Josee Salvas Shaar said...

This is a very important point, Emmanuel, and you expressed it in a very engaging way. I couldn't not agree with you more! How we see ourselves/a situation determines our reaction to events, and hence the outcome. Very clever use of the Harry Potter scene to illustrate this perfectly well.

I recently reviewed the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin for the Positive Psychology News Daily. One of the resolutions she had given herself throughout the year she devoted her life to increasing her happiness was to "act the way I want to feel" - very much in line with Head Health Nutter's comment above, and very fitting with your article as well. Just thought I'd mention it here because it's a very useful rule of conduct that is easy to remember.

Thanks for this wise post!

MarieJ - Smarts And Stamina dot com

Emmanuel Lopez - Motivatorman said...

Hello Steph,

Thank you for your comments and encouraging words about this latest post. Especially you being a psychology major, I am excited that the article resonated with you!


Emmanuel Lopez - Motivatorman said...

Hello Marie-Josee,

Thank you for your message and I appreciate you found the article expressed in an engaging way!

And thanks for sharing the insights from The Happiness Project. There are so many great resources out there to help increase optimism isn't there?!