Expensive pleasers – placebos work better the more they appear to cost

In an experiment psychologists discovered that placebos which appear to cost more will be more effective in pain management than cheaper placebos. Moreover, if the expensive placebos are apparently discounted they are less effective.

In the experiment, the subjects were given two different placebos (neutral sugar pills). There were identical brochures with the two groups. One claimed that the pain killing drug came from China and cost ten cents a pill. The other group received brochures claiming the cost of the pills were one dollar each and they were manufactured in the USA.

These more expensive pills were much more effective in diminishing the pain of controlled electric shocks.

Another group received the “expensive pills” but with a mark on the price showing that the price had been reduced. These had less effective pain control than the ones getting the full price pills.

The experiment reminds me of a real story in Chialdini’s book on persuasion, where some jewelry was not selling and when the owner was going on her vacation she asked her assistant to cut the price in two.

When she returned all the earrings had sold. The owner was pleased that the discounting had worked so well. And then she noticed that the sales person had misunderstood her and doubled the price by mistake.

So sometimes “More is more!”


I recently did a smoking cessation at a reduced “family” price for a good friend of a family member. I told her the full price and her discounted price. Perhaps this may not have been the best strategy.

live with your limitations

Perfectionism is the killer of success – we are human beings and we all have shortcomings – be kind and loving to yourself and you’ll achieve much more.

One of my mentors (Richard Bandler) says that if people said the things that they say to themselves to their children, they may be arrested for verbal abuse. Jesus said, “Love yoir enemy as you would love yourself.” This implies that you love yourself first.


I have been very busy with some projects and have had no time to even transfer these old posts over, let alone write new posts. Today, I have a little spare time so I started to move the following over:

Understand that you are a human being and have limitations. We are each unique, wonderful beings with much inner magnificence. Problem is that often we demand that we become super human. We can push ourselves until we break. The best way is admit one’s own shortcomings and then understand that we can always improve.

Perfectionism, is the enemy of self-esteem. It gives us an excuse not to do a task since it must be done absolutely well, or else we might as well forget it. Thus it stops us from achieving our potential. This gets us into one of those negative vicious cycles where our lack of achievement lowers our self-esteem and at the same time we become more perfectionistic. And the negative cycle continues….

However, if we stop, ponder the truth that it doesn’t have to be 100% to count, we become free to act and move on. As we achieve things taking baby steps in the beginning, our self-esteem increases. Now we are in the positive cycle where our increasing self-esteem allows us to achieve more and thus our self-esteem increases.

As a final reason to fight perfectionism consider a research study which compared a group of perfectionistic salespeople with other sales people from the same company.

The perfectionistic group spent thirty percent more time than the others preparing everything meticulously, getting ready for their clients and in general doing everything just right and perfect…. So what type of results do you think they got with their extra effort?

They earned twenty percent less than the other salespersons…

As it happened just before hand I was talking to a friend about how even our heroes have major limitations and blind spots. I don’t want to mention the names of the heroes. Suffice it to say that I was talking about some people I consider as saints.

The fact that they are human beings and have limitations do not make them less of saints but perhaps even more heroic that they managed to transcend their limitations.

trust the Spirit, God, Nature

The Buddha said that life is suffering, and this suffering is caused by  rejection of what is. That is not to say that we should not change our situation or we should not want. Paradoxically accepting what is allows us to change the future much better.

Now the old post:

As I was driving my brand new bright red sports car slower than most in fact the only person driving slower than me was this guy with a Porsche, I was thinking that if I had this car even five years ago by now I would have had six tickets and three accidents. I remembered this Mullah Nasrudin story:

One day the Mullah was resting under a great walnut tree. Beside him was a watermelon shrub. His mind began to wonder and he asked, “Lord, how come this huge tree produces such small fruits and this tiny shrub grows such giant fruits?” Just then a walnut fell on the Mullah’s head and his head ached and was badly bruised. He said, “Lord, I apologize, you always know exactly what’s best.”

So boost your self-esteem by accepting what is and accepting a grand design to the universe that perhaps we do not understand. Have faith that ultimately all things are for the best….

Now I am not saying that you should not change situations which are not desirable. What I am saying is the past is unchangeable. Accept the past and ACT in the HERE and NOW to change the future….

This active acceptance of the past and proactive goal driven quest for the future will boost your self-esteem.

Reminds me that there are moments when in deep deep meditation I’m in tune with the universe and I feel the perfection of the universe. At these rare blissful moments I would not dare change a single atom anywhere

appreciate things in the same way as you appreciated them when they were new

Sex and the male rat – did I get your attention? When they place a new female rat in the cage of a satiated male rat he becomes interested. But we are human beings and can overcome our physical urges.

We get used to people and things and have the saying familiarity breaths contempt. It is a matter of attitude. You can appreciate anything you desire and you can become staid and allow things become stale very rapidly.

Now from the post in 2000:

So here I am spending all sitting in my brand new car going “Vroom…. Vrooom….” without even turning the engines on  and it’s a great thrill (I am joking, had to work but I wish to make a point).

When we buy a new object we are so proud. We enjoy and appreciate it. We treat the object as though it was a person or a living animal. We look after it. Then time passes as it must pass…

What happens is that as an object gets old, we get used to it and no longer appreciate it. As I have mentioned a few times before when you appreciate someone or something the value increases. Also when you stop to appreciate the value decreases.

In order to keep something as though you had just got it you must keep your attitude of gratitude towards having it. Thus I was always so happy with my old car. I felt so lucky to own it. I could just as easily go “Vroom…. Vrooom….” in the six year old car as with the new car.

It’s the internal attitude which matters. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but this is not the external eye with iris, retina and optic nerves. The eye that truly sees, is the inner eye of imagination and visualization. Here it’s up to you. You have internal rose colored glasses as well as any other color you’d like….

A few days ago I wrote about expectations and self fulfilling prophesies. The same is true about our attitude towards things and people. Our internal attitudes determine our external perceptions….

So see people and things “anew….” And people and things once more become like new….

My car is now nearly eleven years old and I still enjoy it as much as the first day I got it.

Most important things which can get better with age are relationships. It is true that variety is the spice of life. You can have variety with old friends as you grow with each other by doing new activities together. You can visit places you have never neem to.

There restaurants, foods, movies, plays, and so on to discover together.

Remember, whoever whatever you appreciate increases its value for you.

Be thankful and acknowledge people who help you

Now I can date the following old post since I got that new car mentioned in August 2000> I still love the car and have great fun driving it. Now about being thankful – I make sure that I go out of my way to show appreciation to public servants like, teachers, librarians, fire fighters, police sheriff and highway patrol officers (even when they give me tickets).

To me they are way more important than most lawyers and business persons. Unfortunately in our society the only value system has become money. Do not get me wrong. Money is a great value system but not the only one.

Now for the old post:

I just got a brand new car. For me it’s beyond out of this world. Following yesterday’s piece, I could sit in it all day just going “Vroom…. Vroooooom…..” and I wouldn’t even have to start the engine. As you can tell I truly appreciate this car.

I think it is important to thank people since so often we get bad service and either we remain quiet and lower our self-esteem or we become aggressive and ultimately get angry at ourselves (on some level) and again we lower our self-esteem.

But when we appreciate people and thank them we show the world that we live in a win-win universe and by boosting other’s self-esteem we raise our own. Remember that any time we can appreciate someone or something the value of that person or things goes up.

Remember love is the one thing that increases by leaps and bounds the more you give it away….

Show honest appreciation, give true compliments, you’ll feel so much better about the world and yourself. When you show appreciation to others you male yourself happy as well as making the other glad.

appreciate your adult toys from the perspective of a child

Jesus said that one of the vest ways of entering the kingdom of God was to be like little children. That’s because children are delighted by everything, they have fun and always learn. Children have no concept of failure until adults destroy the joy and thrill of life out of them.

When I was a child I so wanted to be able to drive a car. I would sit behind the wheel of my father’s car and pretended that I was driving. I would go, “Vroom…. Vroooooom…..” It gave me such a thrill. I would feel on top of the world. I imagined that if one day I would actually own my own car and I could learn to drive…. Oh wow…. It would be so totally out of this world exquisitely wonderful….

So here I am sitting in one of the never ending Los Angeles freeways and it’s all jammed…. And I’m getting more and more fed up and frustrated…..

And then I remember that four year old boy….

Wow…. Out of this world…. I am actually sitting behind the wheel of a car. It’s mine. I love this car and I know how to drive….

So here I am in the traffic jam and I would be losing my cool by now and I suddenly go, “Vroom…. Vroooooom…..” Life’s fantastic. Who cares about the traffic situation when you can go, “Vroom…. Vroooooom…..”

So do reexamine all you own and all you have achieved from the point of view of a four year old child and boost your self-esteem.

Also in case you see this guy smiling and being totally delighted while going, “Vroom…. Vroooooom…..” in the middle of a traffic jam, don’t think he’s crazy, cause chances are that’s me…. Or better still….

Let’s hope, it’s you….

Expect the best from every one

Many years ago I was taking a two day seminar at an establishment which had a book store. The teacher told us to go to the book store. Take whichever book we may wish to buy home overnight and return it the next day if we weren’t interested. If we kept any books, we could pay for them the next the day.

It was all based on the trust principle. The next day I paid for the books I wanted and returned those I did not. Later the teacher became my friend and I asked him if any people took books without paying for them. My friend replied that there were some unpaid books but in fact the percentage was much lower with the trust system than trying to stop people from stealing.

Of course this was not a book store that anyone could come to. It was people raking the seminar, even so it was interesting that fewer books were unpaid for when there was trust and expecting the best from people:

A new teacher started in a school and saw a list of her students with a number next to each student’s name. She assumed the numbers were the students’ IQs. The number showed that she had exceptionally gifted students. She treated the students the way very intelligent students need be treated. She was not surprised to discover that her students learned so easily and excelled academically. Thus at the end of the year her students had the highest achievement at the school.

The headmistress congratulated her on her extraordinary teaching ability. She replied that given the quality of the students it was a breeze and she had done nothing special with the gifted students. The headmistress didn’t understand since these were average students and had been failures in previous years. Eventually they discovered that the teacher had seen the students locker numbers and assumed high IQs instead.

This principle is true in all cases. Expect the best from your coworkers and they’ll do well. Have low expectation and that’s what you get. When you treat people as capable self motivated people, they act as capable self motivated people/

In terms of self-esteem it is important to expect the very best about yourself. When you expect the best you’ll achieve more which in turn will teach you to further expect the best and boost your self-esteem.

2011: I want to change Henry Ford’s statement: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right,” to:

“Whether you think you can trust a person or you can’t trust that person, you are right!”

Stop, pause and take a deep breath when things go wrong

When things go wrong it is too easy to make more mistakes because we are not thinking straight – doing nothing allows us to calm down and make better decisions. The best rule may be: Never act when your mind is off balance.

Another old post.  Actually the reason I have not posted anything on this siye yesterday and so far today is that I have been very busy with another project. As it happens things did go wrong with the project. So now I;m taking some deep breaths and doing something different (this post( for a change.

Now for that old post:

So often when something goes wrong we panic (consciously or unconsciously) and take action before we think. At the moment while I am settling down to a new way of writing these pieces (the hard disk on the computer I used to use to write these crashed), I use whatever computer is available.

The other night I saved a file under a wrong name and downloaded it to the site. I had now destroyed a previous day’s entry. Without thinking I looked at the page in question and destroyed any chance of recovery until I got to the computer I am using just now. So the page ended up missing for the next thirty six hours.

Once I did this I had to accept what was. I could drive more than 50 miles each way at midnight to get to this computer or accept the fact that the page would be missing for a while….

The real issue was to understand the lesson from this experience and share it with you. So the lesson is (specially when dealing with computers) when things go wrong, at first do absolutely nothing…. Just pause, take a deep breath (this relaxes you and bring extra oxygen to your brain so you can think better), and once you are calm wait a little longer and only then take action.

Of course I am not talking about the type of emergency where you have to act without thinking. Last night we were going to a concert and the people in front stopped and I did not notice, so I had to jam my foot on the breaks. So under those circumstances do whatever is needed and then think about the learnings from the experience.

think about the present moment from the perspective of your last day on earth

Life is so precious but we do not appreciate it until we are about to lose it.

Continuing last night’s article on getting your priorities right, when people are on their death bed, they never regret that they didn’t spend an extra three hours at work. They don’t think about that one less toy that they didn’t buy. They don’t care about their worldly possessions.

What they do care about is the precious moments they spent with their loved ones. They wish they had more of those moments…. They remember the smiles on a child’s face, a sunset, sound of the wind on a hill, a rainbow….

As you live your day to day life, at times meditate from that perspective….

Get your priorities right. Spend more time loving, and appreciating and telling loved ones how you love and appreciate them….

Ali, the prophet Mohammad’s cousin and the greatest of Muslims said, “Live each day as though tomorrow would be your last day…. And plan each moment as though you would live forever….”

Thus to boost your self-esteem think about what is truly important and as the Chinese sages Lao Tsu wrote, “Take the middle way….”

We received this email as a response to yesterday’s piece:
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We have higher incomes, but lower morals; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are the times of tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; Of fancier houses, but broken homes. It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to forward this message and make a difference…. or just hit delete.”

Added June 20, 2006: Here in America many imagine that he with most toys wins. Unfortunately many of these people imagine that they are spiritual. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing intrinsically wrong with toys. It is the priorities of your life which are important. What will you regret not doing at the moment of your death? Think about it and then go for doing those things.

Writing about toys reminds me of a Polynesian island where it is very important to keep up with the Jones’s (like here, there and everywhere else humanity exists). However, and this is interesting about this culture, keeping up with the Jones’s depends on how much you give to others. The more you give to others, the higher you are esteemed in this Island. So people are kind and giving….

Where, numbers in a computer (your bank account — net worth) is a symbol of your value in the society, greed becomes good. The interesting thing is that when a societies values are so distorted that we value a rich lawyer more than a poor teacher, the question to ask is not why are there so many lawyers but how come anyone becomes a teacher or librarian.

Jan 11, 2011: I’m reminded that in Bhutan they have decided to measure the country’s GHQ and make it more important the GDP.

GHQ? Gross Happiness Quotient.

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understand who is the “boss”

I wrote this eleven years ago, The ven happened about twenty five years ago. It is even more apt today than then. Our mad quest for more, more, more has meant less, less, less quality of life, and in fact the current financial disaster for the American middle and working classes may have been caused by the more is better, greed and consume attitude:

Paris, two a.m. I was drinking some vin rouge and talking to “monsieur le Patron*,” the owner of the bistro. His establishment was thriving. So I asked him the typical American question. “When will you open your second restaurant.” He looked at me dumb founded. I repeated my question, explaining that since he was doing so well he should open a second and grow and I was trying to explain the ins and outs of franchising when he stopped me.

“Monsieur, je suis le Patron. Qu’est qu’on dit…. Alors, as you would say, I am the boss. Over there is Yvonne, my daughter. She helps here in the evenings but she really wants to be a dancer. She takes ballet lessons. And my wife she cooks but she does pottery….” He motioned the wheel with his hands.

His eyes brightened as he pointed to a handsome young man. “That is Jean, my son. He goes to university. Will be great physics professor. N’est pas?”

“Mais, oui,” I agreed.

“D’accord.,” he continued, “That one, Gaston, he works for me. I am le Patron, the boss. He does what I tell him. As if to prove a point he gestured to Gaston who refilled my glass. Now the government orders me to give Gaston five weeks a year holiday. But I am the boss. My family, we take six weeks. Rest have fun….. Now you say open second restaurant. Then I have to work more. My wife, no more pottery…. And, Yvonne, she no dance. Alors, Jean, not great physics professor. We work too much. And holidays…. Poof, three weeks… Less. But Gaston, he still gets five. The government says. He get five. So now he is le Patron and I work for him…..”

*I am dyslexic and my spelling is lacking in all languages I know. I’m writing things as I remember the pronunciation. Those of you who understand French please excuse any “Faux Pas”

As I mentioned that was about twenty five years ago. By now Gaston and Le patron are both retired. If they were working Gaston would get about eight weeks of vacation.

A few years later my cousin moved to Paris and bought a restaurant which was quite successful. So he started a second restaurant. Soon both became mediocre and he nearly had a heart attack.

Now he has only a single restaurant but he is happy.

Reminds me that we had a most wonderful Russian restaurant called, “Gorkies,: in down town Los Angeles. It had one of the first micro-breweries I know of.  A few years later they they started a second branch in Hollywood. Ywo years later both branches had closed.