Summary of The Answer by Allan and Barbara Pease: based on their own story and extensive research into neuroscience and psychology, Allan and Barbara Pease explain how to use the reticular activating system (RAS) located in the brain to achieve our life goals. We learn fundamental lessons such as the importance of making a list of goals and integrating them to a precise plan of action. We also discover the power of visualisation and affirmations.
By Allan and Barbara Pease, 2017, 192 pages.
Full title: “The Answer: How to discover what you want from life then make it happen”
Chronicle and summary of “The Answer” by Allan and Barbara Pease
In the introduction to their book “The Answer”, authors Allan and Barbara Pease tell us about why they wrote this book. They want us to find out and then get what we truly want from life.
In more detail, they explain that the book intends to give “The Answer” to two key questions:
How can I reclaim my life and become the person I dream of being?
To do this, Allan and Barbara Pease propose teaching us how to:
- Choose our own path, by ourselves, in other words “not one that someone tries to push you down”.
- Prioritise our ideas.
- Overcome obstacles that stand between where we are now and where we want to be.
How can our brain help us to get where we want to go and how can we programme it to do this?
Huge progress in neuroscience means that we now understand things that were previously unexplained or barely explained scientifically. For example: how setting goals, visualisation and affirmation, prayer, alpha thinking and the law of attraction work. The authors present the results of these types of studies about the brain at the start of their book “The Answer”.
Chapter 1 – Revealing the secret of the RAS
In the first chapter, Allan and Barbara Pease introduce us to a major discovery. It is a system with which every brain is equipped: the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The authors explain how this RAS system plays a fundamental role in the success of many individuals.
1.1– What is the RAS?
The RAS is made up of neural fibres. It contributes to many essential functions of human biology.
It is made of:
- Ascending RAS => connected to parts of the brain such as the cortex, the thalamus and the hypothalamus.
- Descending RAS => connected to the cerebellum and nerves responsible for the senses.
The RAS is described by the authors as follows:
The RAS is a place where your thoughts, internal feelings and outside influences meet. […] It is a network of nerve pathways that filter all the sensory input your brain receives from your external world.
Whatever you see, hear, feel or taste passes through the RAS. Put simply, the
RAS is the answer to switching on your brain and is the brain’s main centre of motivation.”
In other words, millions of pieces of data that come to us all the time as human beings end up in our RAS. Before they enter our brain, each piece of data takes the following path. It:
- Is first encoded by our sensory receptors;
- Then moves to the nerves,
- Then reaches the bone marrow,
- And then travels through the RAS, which is in fact the command centre of our brain.
1.2 – The RAS is the brain’s sorting office
“The brain processes over 400 million bits of information every second but only
2,000 bits can be processed consciously. […] In other words, 99.9999 per cent of the information presented to you every day goes unnoticed. This is the only way we can deal with everyday life and the millions of bits of information flooding into our awareness and demanding our attention.
Your RAS functions like a sorting office, evaluating the incoming information and prioritising that information in the form of messages that need your attention. It’s a filter between your conscious and subconscious mind, and it takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious. Your brain then instructs your body to make the physical actions necessary to comply with the image the RAS instructs. It sorts through your
environment for information patterns that best match your beliefs or the things that are familiar to you. Then it links your thoughts and feelings with similar things in your environment. When it finds a match, your conscious mind is alerted.”
1.3 – Our RAS has a GPS
Among the scientific discoveries about the reticular activating system, the authors find it interesting to note the role it plays it what is often called the “law of attraction”.
To help us understand this, Allan and Barbara draw an analogy with GPS: when we use a GPS, we enter the destination without worrying about how we are going to get there. The GPS automatically maps the route. The RAS acts in the same way: Once we set ourselves a goal, it looks at everything related to that goal and this inevitably sets us on the path towards the goal. It acts like a filter, lessening the effects of other stimuli, scanning the data, noticing and retaining only what is most relevant. This is what happens, for example, when we are at a busy shopping centre or airport and our name is announced over the PA system – we hear our name being called.
1.4 – Our RAS’s search engine
Similarly, the reticular activating system only recognises or selects information that matches our belief system. We now understand that our RAS can, as the authors put it, “work for or against you”. It “depends entirely on what you think about”.
“If you want your RAS to work for you, then you must program it to watch out for what you want, not for what you don’t want. When you program a specific idea or a goal into your RAS, it doesn’t matter whether you’re asleep or awake, or whether you’re thinking about it or not – the RAS will find precisely what you’ve told it to find, just like the search function on a computer.”
The authors offer several examples to illustrate this idea:
- When we see our own model of car everywhere as soon as we have chosen it to be our next car. The number of these cars on the road has not changed. Also, if we had not chosen that model of car, we wouldn’t notice it on the roads.
- When you have a baby, and in a state of complete exhaustion, are able to sleep through anything – except the sound of your baby crying
1.5 – How positive thinking affects our RAS
Because our RAS works as a filter, we can see how our interior monologue and our expectations can have an impact on our daily lives if we think positively. We automatically programme our RAS “to seek information about positive behaviours and to screen out information about negative ones.” And vice versa.
That is why it is capital to only focus on what we want and what we love, not what we reject.
So the exciting discovery that the authors have made is that:
“You can deliberately program your RAS by choosing the exact messages you send to it from your conscious mind. This means you can now create your own reality.” “
Chapter 2 – Decide what you want
In the second chapter, the authors of the book “The Answer” tackle the first major difficulty most of us encounter: deciding what we want.
This looks like it should be easy. In reality, many people don’t know where to start. “The reason most people don’t accomplish much or have much in their lives is because they haven’t decided what they want.”
2.1 – Three steps to decide what you want
By the time we reach puberty, many of us have learned to comply with the demands of others. Our childhood dreams recede and are replaced with security and anxiety.
The first step towards getting the life you really want and not the life that others want for you is to make a decision.
Here are the 3 pieces of advice that Allan and Barbara Pease offer to decide what you want to achieve with your life.
Write down everything you would like to do or achieve.
Allan and Barbara Pease ask us to make a list of all our dreams:
- With no limits (you are not committing to achieving all of them)
- Without worrying about what others might think.
- Being careful to include your childhood dreams that still feel important to you.
- Drawing inspiration from ideas you have heard people talk about that resonated with you.
The authors recommend keeping the list to yourself or to only share with someone you trust completely. Choose someone who will not tell you that the list is stupid and unrealistic and who will not use it to manipulate you:
“This list is all about you. Do not show it to dream-stealers and never allow yourself to be defined by someone else’s opinion.”
Decide what not how
Here, the authors of the book “The Answer” explain why it is vital at this stage to focus only on what you really want, and not how you are going to get it.
“Think first only about what you want. Don’t think about how you will achieve it. Your RAS will do that for you,” and the methods will begin to appear.
People who think too soon about how they are going to achieve their dream will get discouraged and give up.
Create a goals book
This involves putting your list of dreams (that you wrote in step one) in a notebook, along with photos, images and texts that describe or illustrate your goals.
2.2 – Why writing a list works
Three good reasons to write down your goals
The authors are clear about this: writing a handwritten list of everything you care about in life will greatly increase your chances of accomplishing your goals. They talk about a study that was carried out that showed that if people write down their goals, they have a 42% better chance of achieving them.
Why? Because writing something down:
- Involves us physiologically (generating up to 10,000 movements and thousands of neural pathways) and therefore activates our RAS, which starts to filter information related to what we have written.
- It gets us to focus on what is really important and helps us to clarify our thoughts.
“Your thoughts and ideas are like a ball of spaghetti in your head. One thought is intertwined with many others. So it becomes difficult to separate a single idea and focus on it. […] writing crystallizes each thought so that it can be considered in isolation to the others.”
- We are more emotionally invested and this increases our motivation to reach our goals.
The authors illustrate these words with several goals they personally achieved after writing them on their list of dreams, even though some of them appeared to be crazy.
The importance of constantly reading over your handwritten list of goals
Regularly reading your handwritten list of goals helps you reassess the importance of each element, over time, to condense or develop it.
To be extra sure that you will see it all the time, why not hang it in a place where it is always on display -your bedroom or bathroom, on the fridge, the computer screen or beside the phone…).
The most successful people write down their ideas and their goals
The authors mention a study from the 1970s that demonstrated that millionaires are passionate people who know exactly what they want. Billionaires are the same, except that they wrote down lists and action plans with their intentions.
2.3 – How to discover your true career path or life mission
Most people consider their professional life to be a priority. However, studies show that at least 8 out of 10 people do not like the activity that allows them to make a living.
To find out what your “life mission” or “true vocation” may be (in terms of the book), the authors suggest answering the following question:
“What is the one thing that I would love to do so much that I’d do it for free, but that I could also get paid for?”
Allan and Barbara Pease add:
“Did you reply by saying you would still do your current job? If you gave another answer, then start planning right now to get out of the job you are in.”
According to Allan and Barbara Pease, anything we are passionate about can become a paid professional activity, once we know exactly what we love to do and we write it down.
“Find something you love to do and you will never work another day in your life. […] Do what your heart says you were meant to do and the money will eventually follow.”
Chapter 3 – Set clearly defined goals
3.1 – Write down your list
The previous chapter showed us that making a handwritten list of dreams that really matter allows us to tap into our potential. Now it is time to act:
“Start writing your list now. […] Do it now. Otherwise, one day you will wake up to discover you are out of time.”
3.2 – Organise your dreams into 3 columns
The authors of “The Answer” now ask us to classify the items on our list into 3 sections under the headings A, B and C:
- A: the most important goals/dreams at this time that we would like to achieve rapidly
- B: the goals/dreams that are important to us, but require a little more thought before we commit to making them concrete.
- C: the goals/dreams that we would like to achieve, but are only possibilities at the moment (for example because you lack information before you can put them into column A or B).
Inside each section, our goals are qualified and numbered by order of appeal. It is preferable to always have at least ten achievable goals on your list. If one of them is no longer appealing, you still have nine others. This keeps you in a positive state of mind.
“This list will form the basis of where your life will go from now on.”
3.3 – Quantifying your goals
In order to motivate and to be recognised by the RAS, a goal must be expressed in “clear and measurable terms with dates, times, quantities, shapes, colours, size and results”, say Allan and Barbara Pease.
Goals that are too vague and general need to be rewritten in order to be measurable, quantifiable and detailed, as in the following two examples:
- “Be rich one day” ⇒ By 12pm on 15 September, five years from today, I will have one million US dollars of net
- assets and will be completely debt-free’,
- “Have a nice house” ⇒ “own a four-bedroom brick home with a tropical garden, facing northeast,
- 100 metres from the beach in a warm climate, three years from today’, then clearly describe the layout, furniture, door handles, view…)
In these examples, the second expression makes you want to act immediately and allows your RAS to get into “search mode”.
Finally, the authors explain that “Your goal should be out of reach, but not out of sight.”
3.4 – State your goals in the positive
It is essential to express your goals in a positive way. This is for several reasons:
- The RAS can only visualise positive images: for example, instead of writing “I’m going to stop smoking on 1 January”, write “I will be a non-smoker on 1 January” so that your RAS can create a picture of you as a non-smoker.
- Goals that are expressed positively create motivating images in the mind. Negative goals do not create a mental image.
3.5 – Make your goals tangible
“The closer you are physically and emotionally to the images connected to your goals, the faster you will reach them.”
In short, this means:
Anchoring your goal in reality
For example, if you want to send your children to a good school, reading articles about these institutions is not enough. You must visit them to get a real idea.
Stepping into the shoes of the person you will be when you reach your goal
“If you can’t imagine it, then you don’t have what is required to be able to achieve it right now.”
The authors say that if we can picture ourselves reaching our goal or picture ourselves once the goal has been reached, that means that we have the ability to achieve the goal. Otherwise, we would not have successfully visualised ourselves in that position. Athletes are familiar with this principle: if they are capable of visualising themselves achieving great performance, it means that their body is capable of achieving it. Work on this and it becomes another way of activating the RAS. It will begin to act accordingly.
The authors of “The Answer” point out that:
Life offers no guarantees that you can have all these outcomes, but being able to first visualise a situation puts you on the track that can lead to its achievement. The most important first step is to imagine yourself achieving the result and not to think about how you’ll do it.”
3.6 – Display your list of goals everywhere
The authors repeat their advice: display your handwritten list of goals everywhere (fridge, screen) to force your brain to project and visualise what your future life will look like once you achieve your goal. To make things even more effective, you can print or cut out photos and images that are related to your goals. Glue them onto a sheet or in a notebook containing your list of goals.
Chapter 4 – Make a plan with a deadline
4.1 – Turning your dreams into goals
“A deadline is to your goals what the trigger is on a gun.” ”
According to Allan and Barbara Pease, setting a deadline to achieve your dreams is the way to turn them into goals:
“When you put a deadline on your dreams, they become goals. […] Having a deadline will force you to move forward.”
In other words, when you write down a deadline for your dreams:
- It is a source of motivation to move towards achieving your projects.
- It gives meaning to priorities.
- And it helps us to move to action. By getting us involved physiologically and therefore emotionally, it becomes easier to overcome our doubts and fears. We are less inclined to procrastinate.
4.2 – How to make deadlines even more effective
When it comes to deadlines, the authors of “The Answer” invite us to follow 3 principles.
Set realistic deadlines
In other words, we have to be capable of sticking to the deadline, but it should be sufficiently close so as to keep us motivated (it has to represent a small challenge).
Break ambitious goals into small, achievable “bites”
This makes them less intimidating and prevents discouragement. In concrete terms, this means planning, on a calendar, realistic sub-goals (annual, monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly) for our major goals. These mini goals are handled one by one and are therefore easier to accomplish. They offer a sense of success and motivate us to keep going.
One sentence in the book aptly sums us this idea: “Keep your eyes on the next step, not on the summit.”
Take action now
As soon as you decide what to do, get started without delay. For the authors of “The Answer” getting started is the most important step:
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase – just take the first step. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction can be the biggest step of your life. Even if you have to tip-toe, take that step.”
In fact, many people do not move forward because they never get started. They are too busy “getting ready to get ready” too concerned with the planning.
“Don’t wait until you pay off your mortgage, the kids leave home, you gain more confidence, after the New Year or your birthday or the next Blue Moon, or until you are married, divorced, separated, promoted, retired, made redundant or your parrot dies. Start now! If Plan A doesn’t work, there are another 25 letters in the alphabet.”
4.3 – What if you can’t reach a deadline?
Results sometimes take longer to appear than we initially imagined. We all experience periods of difficulty in our lives.
If this is the case, the authors of “The Answer” advise breaking down the goal into sub-goals, setting another deadline, and another if necessary to avoid any danger of giving up. As deadlines are only established on the basis of an estimate, it is quite normal to need to adjust them along the way.
In addition to this, launching several goals at the same time is not recommended.
4.4 – ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’
Allan and Barbara Pease offer this quote by Winston Churchill to summarise the last idea developed in this chapter. It is possible and even recommended to set an end date for negative thinking or any feelings we want to leave behind.
To do this:
“Decide that from a specific time on a specific day, you will not think negatively about the things that happened to you in the past. Decide to think only about what you do want […]. You are only defeated if you stay down. Decide in advance that when tragedy strikes, you’ll pull yourself out of it.”
By way of illustration, Allan Pease talks about how he applied this principle to his own life on several occasions. He describes these experiences as “incredibly liberating”. “I immediately felt a sense of calm and optimism, something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.”
Chapter 5 – Follow through, despite what others think, do or say
Setting goals and planning them is not the hardest part. The hardest part is often following through with your plans. It becomes even harder when the people around you are not very encouraging at this stage.
5.1 – Decide now not to listen to people who try to talk you out of your goals
“Only tell your dreams to a few people who really care.”
When you open up about our projects to people around us, many of them (family and friends mostly) will suddenly try to talk you out of doing these projects. They use all sorts of arguments for this:
- “You’re too old, too young, too fat, too thin, it’s too risky, it’s bad timing, the economy is weak, you’re too broke, you lack experience, there is inflation, deflation, you’re not talented enough, you are too lazy or too crazy…”
Allan and Barbara Pease warn us against this: “Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.” They insist on this, advising readers to be careful about whom they share their dreams with:
“People who are too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage yours. Don’t let small minds convince you that your goals are too big. If your goals don’t scare you a little, they are not big enough.”
Each and every one of us is capable of making decisions with knowledge of the consequences. We should never make decisions “on the advice of others who don’t have to live with the results.”
Who do other people try to talk us out of achieving our goals?
The authors of “The Answer” describe the three main reasons why other people try to dissuade us from reaching for our goals.
They say that these people are:
- Worried that we will lose our money, our health, an opportunity, or that we will fall back.
- Afraid that we will show how little they have done with their own lives: “the reasons others give you for not proceeding are their reasons, not yours,” say the authors
- Threatened or feel intimidated when you announce your goals.
The authors of “The Answer” advise us not to listen to what others say, do or think. Simply persevere with our plan. They advise us to thank the people who are worried about us, tell them that we love them and then get on with the project in hand without any further explanation.
5.3 – Overcome the fear of failure
Many people do not try to achieve their dreams because they are afraid they will fail. We should not be afraid to fail. Failure is an essential part of success.
Very few people succeed without initially failing. The authors talk about some of these people (Howard Schultz with Starbucks, Walt Disney with Disneyland…) and conclude that:
“Winners are not people who never fail. Winners are people who never give up.”
They also quote writer J.K. Rowling:
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.’
5.4 – Avoid being manipulated by others
The authors of “The Answer” share two techniques that they use to prevent being manipulated by others:
- Technique no. 1:
- Agree with the truth of what the other person is saying;
- Restate and maintain your position without being aggressive.
For example: A mother tells her daughter that if she goes to work in Africa, she could die of a disease. Here is how the authors suggest the daughter should handle the situation using technique 1: “You could be right. But I feel compelled to help the underprivileged – and I can’t wait to go.”
- Technique no. 2: if we truly disagree and consider that the other person’s arguments make no sense, accept that they have a right to their opinion, but maintain your position.
In both cases, remain pleasant and allow the other person to have the impression that they are right.
Chapter 6 – Take responsibility for your life
6.1 – How to reclaim control over your life
For Allan and Barbara Pease, we are responsible for what is happening in our life at the moment, positive and negative:
“The way you think and the choices you made in the past have created the circumstances you find yourself in now.”
That is why we have to accept responsibility for “all the credit, good or bad.”
So, to take responsibility for our situation, we must control our:
- Responses/choices faced with what is happening to us.
There are many events over which we have little or no control (severe illness, accident, fire, tsunami…). However, you can control the three elements above to begin to build your future life.
6.2 – ‘It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do about it’
Your life is the result of the choices you make.
“It is you and you alone who are responsible for every decision you make in your life and every direction you choose to take. […] Your life is the result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, start making better choices.”
According to the authors of “The Answer”, you can create the life of your dreams, but you have to stop acting like a victim and stop making excuses. This is precisely what is holding you back from achieving your dreams.
Our parents, parents-in-law, current partner and ex partners, our gender, age, skin colour, health, boss, the economy, the government, the weather: yes, all these factors have an impact on our situation, but “they don’t decide the overall outcome”. In every pursuit, thousands of people succeed despite these “limiting factors”.
“If “limiting factors” were really important, no one would ever achieve anything.”
For Allan and Barbara Pease, facing the consequences of a poor choice is useful. It teaches us a lesson that we probably needed to learn in order to move forward. However, when we keep making the same mistake, it stops being a mistake and becomes a choice.
6.3 – Eight decisions to make to shoulder 100% of your responsibilities
If you want to accomplish your dreams and improve your life, then it essential to begin by changing your thoughts and behaviours. By continuing to act and think in the same old way, you will invariably continue to get the same results.
So, Allan and Barbara Pease encourage us to take 8 decisions:
If there is a good reason to complain, talk to someone who can do something about it.
Stop blaming others
The authors say that good people bring us happiness and good memories. Those who are not good enrich our experience of life and offer us lessons.
Stop believing that you are a victim of circumstances and finding excuses for what is happening in your life
“Whichever way you want to look at it, your actions – or lack of action – directly contributed to the circumstances you are in right now. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
The authors use taking responsibility for the state of our health as an example. They point out that “Over 80 per cent of cancers and heart disease are lifestyle related – poor diet, smoking, alcohol, eating junk food, pollution, stressful living and negative attitudes.”
Choose to surround yourself with the people and things you deserve and you genuinely want
This is about choosing a more positive circle in which to move. The authors say that we give ourselves permission to avoid anything and anyone that does not leave a good impression. Trust your inner voice.
“Don’t ignore life’s warnings. The way a person treats waiters, hotel staff and dogs is the way they will eventually treat their husband, wife or partner. Life sends you clues about everyone and everything. If someone is detrimental to your life, get them out of it, side line them or at least plan to spend less time around them.”
Focus on positive measures that will help you achieve your goals
Allan and Barbara Pease go on to explain that by focusing exclusively on what we want, and speaking about this in a positive way, we will see other ways to overcome the events happening in our lives (through our RAS). The authors suggest drawing up a list of ten things you would like to change or improve about yourself, and to focus on this list.
React differently to the events that happen in your life
Three points are developed here:
- It is not hard to see how your actions (or inaction) have led to the situation in which you find yourself.
- “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
- Or put more simply: “If you want the things in your life to change, change the things in your life.”
Don’t live in the past
The authors of “The Answer” tell us that it is essential to “stay on the page” and to look to now and the future, not to the past.
Chapter 7 – The art of visualisation
7.1 – How does visualisation work?
A precise picture of your goal
Visualising a goal means creating a mental picture of it in your mind. It means picturing yourself reaping the rewards, specifically what you will do and feel when the time comes.
Because the RAS is not able to distinguish between what is imaginary/fictitious and reality, it will pass this picture on to the subconscious mind.
The authors tell us that:
“Studies have found that students who visualise in advance the results they want can, on average, achieve 100 per cent greater results than their peers who did not use visualisation.”
That is why Olympic athletes have been using visualisation techniques for over 50 years.
Our mind thinks in images
Here, the authors show us that the mind does not think in words, but in pictures. That is why it is important to make a list of goals and the actions that lead to them by describing, in a passionate and enthusiastic way, a clear and positive image of the desired result and what our situation will be once we achieve this goal.
Scientific proof about the effectiveness of visualisation
Allan and Barbara Pease explain the results of extensive research into the brain. This research demonstrated the strength of the mind-body connection, the link between our thoughts and our behaviours and the effectiveness of visualisation. The studies presented discuss:
- Discovering subtle muscular movements triggered by visualisation;
- The power of mental training with basketball players, police officers and athletes;
- The effects of visualisation and hypnosis in fighting cancer or preventing other illnesses;
- The practice of “mental repetition”.
These studies also show that “thoughts produce the same mental instructions as physical actions”.
By acting on a large store of brain functions, motor skills, attention, perception, planning and memory, visualisation leads to genuine performance.
While mental practice is not as effective as physical practice, it is very complementary and is an excellent way to:
- Bolster confidence and prepare the brain to achieve your goals.
- Improve motor skills
- Improve motivation and performance.
7.2 – How to practice visualisation | 5 steps to follow
Practising visualisation is simple but it does need to be done regularly to achieve good results.
The authors of “The Answer” suggest starting with a simple goal (eat slowly, get up early, calmly reply to an annoying person) before launching into more complex topics.
They describe the 5 steps to follow:
- Relax: find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Imagine what you want to achieve: visualise a clear overall picture of what you want. For example, if you want to learn to play the guitar, visualise the shape of the guitar, its strings…
- Put yourself in the picture: imagine yourself in as much detail as possible in this picture. In our example, you could be sitting down, holding and playing the guitar.
- Take the action: sticking with this example, now feel the guitar in your hands and focus on what you perceive, such as the sound of the guitar. Picture yourself beginning to play, playing pieces without a wrong note, as if you are a virtuoso.
- Open your eyes
There are a few important points to follow to make visualisation more effective:
- Call upon all five senses as much as possible.
- Visualise as much detail as possible: what you are wearing, who you are with, the place…
- Imagine yourself overcoming all the obstacles you may encounter.
- Conduct visualisation sessions early in the morning or just before going to sleep.
Chapter 8 – Use the power of affirmations
8.1– What is an affirmation?
An affirmation is:
- a positive declaration repeated regularly to confirm what you intend to do or the truth by which you choose to live.
- an interesting tool to change your thought patterns or your self-image and to make your goals become reality (affirmations go through your RAS).
8.2 – How to express an affirmation
For an affirmation to work, it must:
- be chosen in relation to your personal situation.
- be expressed in a positive way (do not use “don’t”, “won’t” or “can’t”).
- start with “I am” or “I am going to”.
- be specific: for example, saying ‘I am losing weight” does not have the same power as “I am becoming a person who weighs 90 kilos”.
- be repeated over and over again: “Until it becomes part of your reality”.
Affirmations must be repeated while visualising the results of what you want, not what you don’t want. You must always see yourself winning.
Finally, repeating a list of affirmations does not equate to daydreaming. Dreamers have no plans, no deadlines and no intention to take any measures to fulfil their dreams. People who use their powers of affirmation and visualisation have a plan and a goal in their heads.
8.3 – The displacement principle
To end this chapter, Allan and Barbara Pease suggest changing the representation we have of ourselves, over time, based on the positive and negative affirmations that come from the people around us / our environment (society, parents, friends, teachers, partners…).
They ask us to replace our negative ideas, our doubts and our fears by feeding our mind with positive affirmations. The goal is to make this new self-image a reality.
8.4 – The laws of reinforcement
“The person who says, “I can!” and the person who says “I can’t!” are both right, almost all of the time.”
The authors of “The Answer” use this quote by Henry Ford to illustrate the laws of reinforcement.
They explain that the following phenomenon has been proven: “when you think or say you can’t do something, your brain decreases the amount of electrical energy going to the parts of your body that would be used to do the thing you claim you can’t do. And vice versa. This is the law of reinforcement.
Many people who have used affirmations and visualised their success before finally achieving their goals bear witness to the phenomenon.
There is another little story:
“An old Indian man told his grandson, ‘My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is peace, hope, joy, love, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.’ The boy thought about it and asked, ‘Grandfather, which wolf wins?’
The old man quietly replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
Chapter 9 – Develop new habits
In this chapter of “The Answer”, Allan and Barbara Pease look into the impact of our positive and negative habits on our results. They insist on our freedom of choice when it comes to our thoughts and habits.
9.1 – “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself”
To better understand how our habits work, the authors use the example of circus elephants.
From birth, circus elephants have one leg chained to a concrete block. As they grow up, the elephants come to understand that it is impossible to escape, no matter how hard they try. In the end, they stop trying. Later on, when their chains are removed, the elephants are mentally trained to believe themselves to be prisoners and they never try to escape.
Using this story, the authors of “The Answer” want us to understand that we too, from birth, are conditioned by our “trainers”. These trainers are our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends, teachers, advertising, society, religion, television, the media or Internet. The subtle and repetitive messages they send us end up becoming part of our belief system. That is how we become imprisoned behind walls that do not exist.
“As we grow through the formative years of our life, we are continually told what we can’t do rather than what we can achieve. […] This negative, repetitive conditioning can hold us back from being a success.” You are confined only by the walls you build yourself
9.2 – Thinking habits Vs. Action habits
To get results and achieve our goals, we need to adopt positive habits.
There are two kinds of habits:
- Thinking habits that are “mental attitudes”,
- Action habits
Many people only focus on changing their lifestyle habits, their physical actions. However, our thinking habits are most important to results. To avoid this pitfall, it can be interesting to make a note of your thoughts and mental attitudes with the goal of analysing them and working on them.
9.3 – How to adopt the best habits
Here is some advice from the authors about replacing counter-productive habits with positive habits:
- Identify the destructive habits to eliminate and productive habits to acquire. To help you with this, you can ask people around you or analyse the habits of successful people and less successful people.
- Replace negative thoughts and affirmations (such as “I’ll try” or “I’m too busy”) with positive ones.
- Only change one habit at a time. In general, it takes 30 days of repetition to definitively adopt a new habit.
- Build a plan to adopt a new habit and perform it until it becomes an integral part of your being.
- Avoid people who hold you back from success and choose your friends with care: you do not have to turn your back on old friends, but you can broaden the circle.
- The idea is to choose the company of people who are a better influence. Find people who help you move towards your goals and motivate you to become your best self.
- At the same time, it is advisable to reduce the amount of time you spend with people you consider to be negative (those who are critical, stressed, jealous, don’t take responsibility or always look on the dark side).
“Stay away from negative people, toxic people, dream-stealers and emotional vampires. […] you will become the average of the five people you hang out with the most. If you don’t like that average, change things.”
Chapter 10 – Play the numbers game
This chapter of “The Answer” shows us that in everything we do, a set of statistical elements (principles, laws and ratios) determines our chances of success.
Here is a summary of the most interesting laws of numbers you should know. They show us where we should improve our capacities, spend time and which activities to avoid.
10.1 – The law of averages
To better understand how this law applies, Allan Pease tells us about several of his past experiences:
When he was 11 years old, Allan sold sponges door-to-door from 4pm to 6pm. His averages were 10: 7: 4: 2.
This means that when he knocked on 10 doors, on average:
- 7 people opened the door;
- Out of these 7 people: 4 listened to his pitch;
- Out of these 4 people: 2 of them bought a sponge costing 20 cents.
In 1 hour, Allan generally knocked on 30 doors. He therefore made 12 sales in 2 hours (60 doors) and earned $2.40 every day. He didn’t worry about the 3 doors out of 10 that did not open, or the 3 people who didn’t want to hear his pitch, or those who did not buy from him. All he remembered was that by knocking on 10 doors, he earned 40 cents.
The takeaway: the boy pocketed 4 cents for each door he knocked on, whatever happened next.
Allan Pease ends his story like this:
“Whatever your goal, there is a ratio – a set of numbers – that determines how many times you attempt it and how many times you will succeed. It’s simply a matter of discovering those numbers.”
Once the numbers become obvious (law of averages), we can use them to repeat the same thing, in the same situation, and therefore get the same results.
Allan Pease explains how he also played the numbers game when he was working as a life insurance salesman. Here his ratio was 10: 5: 4: 3: 1.
So, for 10 clients called on the phone:
- 5 agreed to meet him.
- 4 clients honoured the appointment.
- Out of these 4 clients: 3 signed a sale after his presentation and he received a commission of $300.
In other words, for each person called, whether or not they accepted to meet him, whether or not they kept the appointment, whether or not they bought his product, Allan earned $30.
Because of this, Allan Pease did not look for buyers: he was satisfied with calling 10 potential clients a day in the knowledge that this would earn him $300 per day.
Ratios: the keys to success
For the author:
“The answer to achieving all of these successes was the understanding of how numbers and ratios work.”
Based on this principle, he invites readers to write down daily achievements. Then to add data about failure and success, what produced a result and what led nowhere, with the goal of seeing ratios appear.
10.2 – The 80/20 principle
What is the 80/20 principle?
The 80/20 Principle, also known as Pareto’s Law (after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed it) states that most effects (80%) in any kind of situation are determined a lower number of causes (20%).
The 80/20 figures are not an absolute rule. Many key factors can vary the data, and they may not amount to exactly 80/20. But they are close.
The key idea to remember about the 80/20 principle is that a minority generally creates a majority. This works for almost everything.
If we consider this law, we can understand that:
- 80% of the results obtained are the fruit of 20 % of our efforts and the opposite is also true, 20 % of the results obtained are the fruit of 80% of our efforts.
- 80% of our income comes from 20% of our contributions.
- Some of the things we do (our 20%) constitute a major part (80%) of our happiness, our results and our output.
- More than 80% of the wealth in the world is owned by less than 20% of the population.
Understanding the 80/20 principle can change the way you work
The 80/20 principle is very useful in a professional context because it offers us the opportunity to optimise performance. By applying it, we can:
- Spot, in our products and/or services, the ones that generate the most income (the 20%) and abandon the ones that are a source of more modest results (the 80%).
- Focusing on the 20% of tasks and actions that produce 80% of the best results helps us improve the skills that are inherent to these tasks. We can delegate or give up the tasks that correspond to the other 80%.
- Reward the best employees (20%) and say goodbye to the ones that are less good.
- Improve service with your best clients (20%).
Consequently, Allan and Barbara Pease invite readers to look for 80/20 activities in everything they do, in a professional as well as a personal setting, and put all their energy into them.
Transform your passions into a source of income with the 80/20 principle
The 80/20 Principle is also very interesting when applied at a personal level.
The idea is that if you follow this principle, you can spend less time doing things you do not enjoy to devote more time to the things that really matter (spending time with your family, indulging in a hobby…).
The authors of “The Answer” also point out that by focusing our energy and concentrating our income on things we love (which are generally our strengths), we often earn more, because the quality of our output is much better.
Allan and Barbara Pease invite us to put our passions down on paper. They go on to ask us a question: why not reduce our working hours and spend more time on a sideline professional activity that we are more passionate about (playing music on stage, writing a book, developing an invention or computer software, finding investors…)?
As our sideline professional activity develops, we can adjust the work/passion ratio and set some financial goals. The authors go on to explain why:
“When you set clearly defined financial goals and have a plan of action with a deadline, your odds of winning are far greater than those of any lottery payout or financial windfall.”
10.3 – The top 3%
Allan Pease once again draws inspiration from his own experience to explain this next principle.
At the age of 47, Allan found out that he had prostate cancer. His doctor told him that he only had three years left to live. Talking with his specialist, Allan learned that around:
- 20% of men of his age in the same condition died within 2 years.
- 50% within 3 years.
- 27% generally died shortly after a period of 3 years.
- 3% lived beyond the age of 80 and died of another cause.
Allan Pease questioned his doctors: what did the 3% of survivors do that the other 97% did not do. Nobody knew. The author decided to conduct his own research. He studied the reasons why the people in the 3% group were still alive. He adjusted his own life in relation to his discoveries and chose to see his cancer as a simple obstacle standing in the way of his projects. Sixteen years later, Allan Pease is still alive.
Chapter 11 – Dealing with stress
The eleventh chapter of “The Answer” talks about gelotology.
Gelotology is the science of laughter, or the study of humour, laughter and the psychological and physiological effects it has on the human body.
11.1 – Laughter for good health
After introducing the biological aspects of laughter, the authors use abundant scientific research (Vernon Riley, Patch Adams, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, Candace Perth), to demonstrate the many benefits of laughter.
The studies teach us that laughter:
- Helps us to relax as it has a tranquillising effect on the body. When we are seized with a fit of the giggles, the brain releases endorphins; our tears, when we cry with laughter, contain encephalin, a natural tranquilliser in the body that can ease pain.
- Strengthens the immune system and extends life expectancy.
- Reduces stress, which is known to be a major cause behind serious illnesses such as cancer.
Visits by clowns and laughter rooms in hospitals are examples that are the result of this research and/or confirm its findings (as part of these interventions, the statistics show that the hospital stay is shorter, there is a reduction in pain relief requirements and patients are easier to manage…).
Basically, all these studies prove that humour and positive thinking are extremely beneficial for health. They facilitate relationships with others and help success rates to increase.
11.2 – Laughter to combat destructive emotions
The authors of the book “The Answer” draw our attention to four emotions that are particularly destructive. They are:
The authors emphasize that these four emotions that are harmful to happiness are all the result of a choice. Allan and Barbara Pease suggest that we choose to use humour to face emotional situations and change our physical condition (they talk about laughter therapy in particular).
Chapter 12 – Overcoming fear and worry
Fear and worry are two ancestral reactions that are designed, in humans, to reduce the risk of dying through “fight or flight”. But nowadays, according to the authors of “The Answer”, they are the two main brakes holding back success, happiness, fulfilment and inner peace. Furthermore, fear and worry cause damage to our organs and immune system. It is therefore vital to not let fear and worry control you.
12.1 – Fear: a normal and important reaction
The authors of “The Answer” begin this chapter with explanations drawn from cognitive neuroscience to better understand how fear and worry function in our central nervous system.
They remind us that fear is an integral part of the human brain, and that it is essential. Being afraid or being worried about your life is normal human behaviour. Species would disappear without it.
12.2 – Fear related to memories
The authors develop 3 points about fear and its correlation to memories.
We can feel fear without knowing why
The reaction of fear has been learned through a process called “classic conditioning” generated by the amygdala. The amygdala manages implicit memory. This means that it stores our physical reactions as they relate to past events and experiences at unconscious level. That is why we can feel fear without consciously knowing why.
We remember emotional events and experiences more easily
These memories are called flashbulb memories (one example is that anyone who is generation X will almost certainly remember where they were on the day Princess Diana died). A word of warning: when the event is too traumatic, we can clearly see elements of our flashbulb memories. However, the authors point out that in reality, these can often be false.
Creating new memories can help us to overcome fear
“Reasonable” fear is useful for our safety. However, in cases of trouble with anxiety (such as post-traumatic stress, panic issues, social phobia or obsessional-compulsive disorders), the fear can become a handicap.
To make fear positive, we need to create new memories that can change our central nervous system. Basically, instead of thinking about the undesirable results we have known in the past, we should only think about desirable results.
12.3 – False fears
Our brain cannot distinguish between genuinely scary experiences and those invented to scare us.
That is why things that give us the shivers allow us to feel fear without experiencing genuine physical danger (horror films, ghost trains, bungee jumps and extreme sports).
Generally speaking, fear can exercise a certain attraction. The pleasure/euphoria it procures is similar to what drug addicts can feel.
12.4 – Social fears or the fear of being judged
The most common fears are about situations in which we are likely to feel judged by other people (for example, many people are afraid of speaking in public). These are known as social fears.
These fears come from the sense of inadequacy we feel when we compare ourselves to other people who we believe are better than us. That is why, for Allan and Barbara Pease there is no use comparing:
“The only time it’s healthy to compare yourself to another person is when someone is ahead of you and you use them as a source of inspiration.”
12.5 – The fear of rejection
Allan and Barbara Pease develop a number of ideas about rejection and our fear of rejection:
- Any successful person has encountered rejections along the way.
- Rejection does not necessarily mean that you are on a downward trajectory. For example, if the project you submit to your manager is rejected, this does not mean that you are less of a person than you were before making the proposal. You may even be better, because you now know how to alter your approach and get a better result next time.
- When you experience rejection, manage the situation in 3 stages: first, don’t take it personally, second, accept that it feels bad; and finally set a deadline to forget about it and move on.
- If you have to reject another person, you can do it painlessly and effectively: thank the person, explain why they are being rejected, and praise their qualities.
12.6 – Three very simple ways to manage fear
Take a step back
“A racing heart, sweating palms and feeling helpless and confused are the result of adrenalin,” explain the authors. To feel better, you can go for a 15 minute walk, take a shower or have a tea/coffee.
- There is no point in worrying about things you fear: studies have shown that in 87 % of cases, the things that we fear may happen never do. And when they do happen, only 6% of those events are down to our responsibility.
- Our fears are often worse than reality. For example, the day you hear that a shark has been seen off the coast, people start imagining that there are sharks prowling along every beach.
- When something scares you, it can be helpful to imagine the worst outcome: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Because “whether it’s a presentation, a phone call, a conversation or a relationship that goes horribly wrong, the sun will still come up the next morning and life will continue.”
- To keep things in perspective when it comes to our fears, it is also interesting to help someone less well-off then ourselves. It gives awareness about being thankful for what we have and our problems will seem less intimidating.
Get back to basics
Medications, drugs and alcohol will only make fears worse. The best remedies for anxiety or tension can be found in the simple things: a good night’s sleep, a nice balanced meal, a walk, a conversation with a considerate friend, reading, listening to or watching some inspirational or motivating content.
Chapter 13 – Never give up
13.1 – “Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.”
“Rejection is nothing more than negative feedback that is showing you what not to do.”
In other words, rejection shows us the path to follow towards success. Instead of fearing it, you should willingly accept it.
History is filled with examples of men and women who succeeded despite multiple rejections: Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, The Beatles, Albert Einstein. All these people hung onto their goals, despite what other people said, thought or did.
In short, rejection does not prevent success. Giving up prevents success.
That is why “if you have an idea or concept you believe in and you think will benefit others, stick with it”. Allan and Barbara Pease encourage us to go all the way with a project. And before moving onto something else, make sure you have explored all possible options.
“Don’t give up early. As you move toward your goals, some people will throw rocks at you but you can choose whether to use those rocks to build a wall or to build a bridge.”
13.2 – Ask for expert help to achieve your goals
The authors of “The Answer” invite us to ask for help from people who have been in the same situation. Ask them how they overcame obstacles and how they accomplished the things that you want to achieve. The people you approach should have a certain expertise in what you are aiming for in order to be able to show you the pitfalls and the short cuts.
The authors suggest asking for advice in a positive and creative way. Don’t be afraid that they will say “no”.
“Statistically speaking, the answer is more likely to be ‘No’ than ‘Yes’ but if the ratio is, say, 10:1, you will eventually get one ‘Yes’. Even when the answer is ‘No’, you are no worse off than before you asked. You are in exactly the same position.”
The authors illustrate this by talking about their own experience when they published their first book.
They point out that the help you seek can also be found in books, videos or other online content.
Chapter 14 – From the outhouse to the penthouse
The last two chapters of “The Answer” are autobiographical. After much hesitation, the authors decided to share their story and their personal experience to show us how they applied the principles of “The Answer” to their own lives.
14.1 – The fall
There was a time when everything was perfect for Allan and Barbara Pease, before “everything disappeared almost overnight”. After years of phenomenal success, they made some poor decisions and ended up with debts amounting to several million dollars. At the same time, Allan learned that he was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer.
The Peases went through an extremely difficult period. Then one day, they decided to start again from nothing.
“We made the irreversible decision to become more successful than we had ever been before. We then sat at a plastic card table a friend had lent us and wrote by hand our new goals. And we detailed the lifestyle we would live and the success we would achieve. We didn’t know how we’d do it, but we had decided what we’d do, and we knew that was the most important thing. There was no other option – we had to move forward.”
After several months of introspection, Allan and Barbara Pease finally chose to write some new books. Their ambition was to sell millions of copies, far more than their previous books. This was a high bar, but their situation left them with no other option.
14.2 – The horizon appears
To reach their goal, the couple knew that they would have to focus on markets with a big population. For various reasons, Allan and Barbara to conquer the European market. They moved to the centre of England, to completely unfamiliar territory, with nothing but “a goal and our faith in the Universe”.
On reflection, it seems almost impossible that we could have done what we did, but we had no other choice. When your back is up against a wall, there is a sword in your hand and you have no other options, you can only move forward. We refused to even contemplate anything other than success. We were going to make it back bigger than ever. End of story. And we would follow through with our plan despite what anyone said, thought or did.”
Allan and Barbara Pease tell the story of their move to the United Kingdom. They tell us about the early days in the tiny village of Henley-in-Arden. The first months were more difficult than they had imagined. Their story is an exciting one. They took a leap into the unknown, which is both scary and captivating.
14.3 – Hang in there
Allan and Barbara Pease took three years to get out of their financial difficulties. It was a tough time for their relationship. The incomprehension that Allan and Barbara encountered in their own relationship would feed their interest in what went on to become the topic of their success.
Through perseverance and because they never stopped talking about their situation to the people around them, things began to improve. Many people accepted to help them. Barbara and Allan worked laboriously.
Little by little, Allan got invited to speak at conferences and on television programmes. When he spoke, Allan’s ideas, which demonstrated the differences between the male and the female brain, led to controversy. Despite this, his presentations were well received. The couple began to see the potential of this topic. They decided to devote their next book to studying the relations between men and women.
One day, on a trip to Italy, Allan and Barbara had an argument in a hired car. The experience led to the title of their book: “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps.” The book talks about the differences between men and women in a humorous way, but one that also gives a lot of scientific data and true stories. This kind of approach was new and not considered to be politically correct. This brought it to the attention of the media and landed Allan with some notoriety. The self-published book became a best-seller in Australia.
14.4 – Obstacles and pitfalls
Allan and Barbara go on to tell the story about how their book was published in Europe. They share the strategies they had to adopt in the face of the many refusals and obstacles they encountered in the months before their book reached the best-seller list in Great Britain.
“There were many days when things looked bleak or didn’t go our way. But when you have clearly defined goals, you are motivated by looking towards the final outcome, not the obstacle in front of you.”
After 3 years of scraping by, they were on the up again. They became the owners of a beautiful apartment in a 17th century English house (with the help of people who believed in their project).
14.5 – Never give up
Having become regulars on British television, Allan and Barbara Pease went on to contribute to several television projects (series, documentaries). They self-published 7 more books and sold millions of copies.
Here is an excerpt from the analysis they make of their success story. It resonates with the things said in the previous chapters of the book:
“The results we have described here account for about 20 per cent of our initial efforts – the other 80 per cent of what we attempted got zero results. We played the numbers game and had handwritten, clearly defined goals and deadlines. We constantly visualised the outcomes we wanted and used affirmations daily. Doing this, asking people for help and making the decision to follow through – despite what others say, think or do – gets results.”
14.6 – When success seems impossible
The authors of “The Answer” go on to explain how they succeeded in one of the most unlikely goals on their list – to get into the biggest untapped market in the world, Russia.
At the time, in 1990, it was almost impossible to enter Russian territory. And even more difficult to publish a book there or attend a conference. And yet, Allan and Barbara succeeded.
They take us on the story of their remarkable adventures against a backdrop of the KGB to reach the unimaginable dream of hosting seminars across the country. Their tour even took them to the Kremlin. Today, the authors are famous in Russia and they spend three months there every year.
They end this chapter with a reminder of their strategy, which gives meaning to their story and can be summarised as follows:
“All you need to do is first decide what goals you’d like to achieve and write them down. List them from A to C, and create deadlines for the A list items. When the hows begin to appear around you, develop them into a plan. Then move forward despite what others may think, say or do. Learn the new habits you’ll need to make your journey easier, develop positive affirmations and use visualisation. And whatever happens along the way, see the humorous side of things. That’s what Barb and I have always done because we know it works. And it will work for you as soon as you decide to use it.”
Chapter 15 – Tell your body what to do
In this penultimate chapter of “The Answer”, Allan and Barbara Pease talk about a period of their life that was both very personal and inspiring. They speak movingly about the trials they endured in order to become parents. What they tell us seems almost impossible. Their determination and perseverance are admirable. And their story is a good illustration, they say, of the power of the RAS and the teachings expounded in this book.
15.1 – The moving story of Allan and Barbara Pease’s combat to have children
When Allan and Barbara Pease decided to have children together, they already had 4 children between them (2 boys on Barbara’s side and 2 daughters on Allan’s side).
Allan’s chances of survival were very low when his cancer was diagnosed, but he survived and this led the couple to think deeply about their life together. Their decision to have two more children and make it the primary goal on their handwritten list was the result of this thought process.
The couple quickly understood that they would have to surmount a major obstacle: Statistically speaking, it was almost impossible for it to happen. Allan’s sperm, at the age of 52, was no longer viable after the radiation treatment he had undergone. At 41, Barbara was at a relatively advanced age, medically speaking, to procreate.
Furthermore, nobody encouraged them to pursue this project. Their friends thought them irresponsible and the specialists gave their project a 2 % chance of success.
15.2 – Motivation against the odds
But Allan and Barbara were not to be discouraged. They took no notice of the opinion of those around them nor of the odds given by the doctors.
“Remember, if someone hasn’t been down the track you want to go along they can’t give advice on what you should do. […] When ‘experts’ or other well-intentioned people tell you that something can’t be done, find new experts and new friends who believe in you and what you want to achieve. You see, if we’d listened to the advice of the experts when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I’d probably have been dead a long time by now.”
They initially turned to IVF. If that didn’t work, they would consider a surrogate or adoption as alternative solutions.
15.3 – Persevere no matter what
The story in this chapter describes all the highs and lows that they couple encountered over the course of their project to bring two new children into the world. They talk about all the trials, the stages, the ‘rounds’ (to use a boxing term) like a true obstacle course. We learn about:
- The “roller coaster ride” of IVF treatment, with unexpected and hard-hitting news, both positive and negative.
- The way they managed things and how they remained motivated: by focussing on the end goal and not on the stumbling blocks.
- Allan endured a nightmare experimental artificial insemination technique. They got on the program despite the difficulties and having to travel to Australia, despite the low chances of success and the complications and consequences (for example, operations on his testicles left Allan with a higher-pitched voice).
All of the misadventures they endured and accepted to respect the hormone injection protocol.
- Barbara’s faith and confidence as she spoke to her ovaries and sang songs to her embryos, reading them stories and explaining what she was doing in detail. She walked around the house with bibs and baby clothes around her neck. As Allan puts it, “Barb was thinking her way into pregnancy and instructing her body cells what to do.”
- The mixture of respect and awe that Allan felt for his wife in the face of the strength of her determination: “As her husband, I remained silently nervous while she was steely and resolute, eerily calm and confident that we would have at least one child – maybe two – on the way.”
15.4 – The end of the story
The couple had two children in the end, both in good health:
- Brandon was born in 2005 after twelve hours of labour and no medication.
- Bella was initially a cryogenically frozen embryo for several months before being injected into Barbara’s womb.
15.5 – The keys to the success of Allan and Barbara Pease’s project to remember
Allan and Barbara Pease end their book “The Answer” by sharing their analysis of what, in their opinion, contributed to the success of their project.
The 2 key things are:
Adopt a positive state of mind and repeat positive affirmations
Barbara admits that she chose to be positive and that she visualised the desired result throughout this period. She was determined to have a child and was convinced that she would succeed despite the low probability. She never imagined that she would not succeed. It can be hard to stay positive, especially when everyone is lined up against you. However, when you decide to pursue a goal that you have sincerely chosen for yourself, new doors will open. “You will see other options and possibilities that you wouldn’t have seen or considered if you had not set off down that track.”
Surround yourself with supportive people
“If your ‘advisors’ don’t believe you can achieve your goals, get new advisors. It’s your goal, not theirs. They are just advisors with an opinion.”
Barbara explains that she only kept in touch with people who thought that her project was possible, the ones who supported her. She ends like this:
“When anyone tells you there’s only a small chance you can achieve something, remember that it’s only their opinion based on their experiences. Or they may be projecting their own inadequacies onto you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve it. Usually it means you need to take a positive attitude, work at it harder and decide to be in the minority of those who succeed.” “
Chapter 16 – Putting it all together
The final chapter of “The Answer” is a summary of the key concepts in the book.
16.1 – Set precise goals and stay focused
The authors of “The Answer” say this throughout the book. When we decide “what”, then the “how” appears by itself. This is why we have to decide what we really want before we think about how to achieve it.
The Peases go on to remind readers about the process to achieve your life’s goals. It can be summarised like this:
- Set goals.
- Write them down.
- Give them an order of priority.
- Break them into sub-goals that can be reached one after another.
- Include these goals and sub-goals to a plan of action.
- Set realistic deadlines (and adjust them as needed).
- Focus on the action, and keep moving forward no matter what other people think or say.
- Adopt new habits as required, use positive affirmations and visualisation.
- Stay on course even if other people try to divert you from your goals.
16.2 – Understand the central role played by the reticular activating system (RAS)
Thanks to our RAS (a mass of neural fibres in the brain stem), we can, according to Allan and Barbara Pease, create our own reality.
To do this, we need to programme our RAS by choosing what messages to send it. This is a conscious and precise action which takes place:
- By being positive and by controlling our interior dialogue and our expectations.
- It directs our RAS to search for the positive information we need and eliminate the negative data.
“The RAS is such a powerful tool that it can take you anywhere you want to go. It’s your personal GPS.”
16.3 – Use the power of writing
The authors of “The Answer” are convinced: writing things down greatly increases your chances of success. Putting your thoughts down on paper focuses your attention on what is truly important and gets your RAS moving.
The authors recommend:
- Making a written list of the things you are interested in and passionate about in life. Do not make any judgement about the things you write down.
- Keep adding to the list, making sure that the goals continue to match what you really want and not what others expect of you.
16.4 – Take responsibility
“Everything you will have in your life will be based on the choices you make.”
There is no point in accusing other people or circumstances. You are responsible for your choices and your decisions.
Taking responsibility means:
- Deciding and owning what happens to you.
- Reacting positively to events: stop complaining and thinking about what you can do and what you are doing.
16.5 – Use visualisation and affirmations
“Your life is the sum total of your past affirmations.”
The neuroscientific discovery of RAS can explain how processes such as visualisation, affirmations or the laws of attraction greatly contribute to the success of our projects.
There are many stories to back this up. For example, we know that successful athletes train both physically and mentally.
Affirmations and visualisation consist of setting your mind on the desired results and mentally picturing your success, the achievement of your goals. They strengthen the neural pathways for a particular skill. They release your creativity and allow your potential to be fully revealed, “Beyond your wildest dreams.” They are also a source of courage and initiative.
“The Answer” offers several principles to follow for effective affirmations and visualisation:
- Only think about what you genuinely want, not the things you refuse.
- Only use positive expressions
- Always picture yourself winning.
- Practice to turn your positive actions into habits.
16.6 – Adopt new habits: successful ones
The authors of the book “The Answer” end by reminding us about the habits shared by all successful people:
Persevere, no matter what others think or say
People around us will try to interrupt us on the path to our goals, either because they love us, or in contrast, because they hate us or because they don’t want to look like losers themselves.
To face this, the authors suggest the following:
- Stay focused on your goals and keep moving forward despite what others think or say.
- You can only avoid criticism by doing nothing, saying nothing and being nobody.
- Be pleasant and let other people feel that they are right, whatever their opinion (while rephrasing what they say in a way that you consider to be true).
Allow yourself to avoid anything that leaves a bad impression
You don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Simply trust your inner voice. You have to take your share of responsibility for the people around you. This is what the authors of “The Answer” say about this:
“If you are not thrilled by the lifestyle and achievements of your five closest friends, find new ones.”
Fear and worry are normal, but decide how to deal with them
Things go wrong for everyone at one time or another. This is normal. Just because you are down doesn’t mean you are out. “You are only defeated if you stay down.” When tragedy strikes, it is vital to decide that you are going to overcome it. You can set a precise date and time from which you decide to overcome stress, worry and depression. In short:
“Expect that you may feel fearful when new or unexpected opportunities arise, but don’t let this stop you from working to achieve your goal.”
Play the numbers game
Your goals depend on a certain number of sequences, formulas, and statistical elements no matter what your project or activity. These figures determine your chances of success. That is why it is interesting to note down your daily activities, the number of attempts, successes and failures, so that you can see what works and what needs to be adjusted. That way, your ratios quickly appear.
See things in a positive light
For Allan and Barbara Pease, it is important to be serious about things, but not to take things too seriously.
“Make an agreement with yourself that you’ll look for the humorous side of anything that happens along the way. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide that your life is your own – no excuses or apologies, no one to lean on, to rely on or to blame. This is the day your life really begins.”
Reclaim your life
The authors draw our attention to the risk of following a path that is not your own, but is in fact designated by another person (even if the other person often acts with the best of intentions). Reclaiming your life, therefore, means choosing to become the person you want to be.
“If you are not working every day on something that excites you, plan to get out of it.” Most people don’t like what they do for a living. Too many people claim they are too busy earning a living to be able to do what they really want to do. Don’t be one of them.”
Don’t give up
The most important thing – and often the most difficult thing – is the beginning. The authors encourage readers to:
- Start by thinking about your goals, writing them down and setting deadlines to achieve the projects you have decided are your priorities.
- Then, to stick with them and not quit. Keep reading and rereading your list of goals. You should only think about the desired result, and follow the rules and guidelines given in this book.
“Go as far as you can see and when you get there you’ll be able to see farther than you could at the start.”
Conclusion to “The Answer” by Allan and Barbara Pease
What to take away from The Answer
The overall idea in the book, to my mind, is this: we can create our own life and our own reality, instead of submitting to things. Making our dreams come true and achieving our goals is much more accessible that you might imagine.
To do this, it is up to us to take back control over our own destiny:
- It is not just a question of talent or skill. And it is above all a state of mind, positive thinking and positive attitudes.
- This is essential to take responsibility and to believe in your dreams.
- We must make a list and prioritise the goals that really matter. Establish a plan of action and persevere, no matter what others think.
What “The Answer” can offer you
What you can learn in this book can be summarised into 5 major points:
- The functioning of the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and its impact on achieving your dreams.
- The catalysing roles of goals and an action plan: writing down your goals in life, prioritising them, and setting a deadline acts like a compass. It sets a course to follow to fully realise your dreams and your life.
- The power of writing things down and making lists: specialists in neuroscience and psychology have shown how this approach can play a role in successfully achieving your goals in life. In particular because writing help to put your thoughts in order, to get the essential information, anchoring your words and thoughts to create your own reality.
- The usefulness of appropriating the methods, habits and qualities shared by “winners”. These include perseverance, self-control, positive thinking, overcoming fears, the ability to step outside your comfort zone, visualisation, affirmations, etc. These are all characteristics that point to success and that you can start using today.
- The importance of living your life and your dreams intensely: “The Answer” invites readers to think about the missed opportunities on the path to happiness.
- Although some of the ideas offered in the book may seem esoteric, the authors make extensive use of scientific data (with sources) to illustrate their point.
- The approach is optimistic, positive and motivating.
- The principles developed become concrete with the life stories of the authors, demonstrating a correlation between mindset and success.
- The stories and examples are told in a captivating way.
- The authors are fully convinced that their ideas are true. This is a double-edged sword: if readers get onboard, they will be very motivated to put the ideas into practice in their own lives. If they are not receptive to the determined tone of the book, they may find that the author’s words, albeit nuanced, sound too much like moral advice.
- The same ideas are repeated and rephrased throughout the book.
My rating :
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Short practical guide to “The Answer”
The four emotions that are especially detrimental to positive thinking
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the book “The Answer” to positive thinking
1. What was public reaction to the book The Answer?
Published on 24 Mai 2017, this book was well received by the public. It was quite successful and featured among the top selling books on Amazon.
2. What was the impact of the book The Answer?
With each reading, the book offers readers a blast of optimism, the desire to get motivated and to move forward in life, defining a new direction to take.
3. Who should read The Answer?
This book is for everyone, especially anyone who is feeling demotivated or lost. It helps readers redefine their goals in life and achieve them through the power of positive thinking.
4. How does positive thinking affect our RAS?
Our RAS works as a filter, so we can see how our interior monologue and our expectations can have an impact on our daily lives if we think positively. We automatically programme our RAS “to seek information about positive behaviours and to screen out information about negative ones.” And vice versa.
That is why it is capital to only focus on what we want and what we love, not what we reject.
5. What are the steps for making a list of goals?
Write down your list
Organise your dreams into 3 columns
Quantify your goals
State your goals in a positive way
Make your goals tangible
Display your list of goals everywhere
Why write down a deadline versus how to make deadlines effective
|Why write down a deadline?||How to make deadlines effective|
|It is a source of motivation to move towards achieving your goals.||Set realistic deadlines|
|It gives meaning to priorities||Break ambitious goals into small, achievable “bites”|
|It helps you to take action.||Take action now|
Who are Allan and Barbara Pease?
Allan Pease is a psychologist and consultant in communication. Initially an international expert in body language known as “Mr Body Language”, he travelled the world giving conferences and writing best sellers such as “Body Language” (1981). His wife Barbara is also a psychologist, consultant in communication and coach. She runs the international institute she founded with her husband that bears their name.
Nowadays, the couple are interested in fundamental and cross-cutting questions about life goals and self-realisation, as well as the field of neuroscience. Barbara and Allan Pease are known around the world for their first book entitled Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. It has sold 27 million copies since it was first published in 1999. They are the authors of several best sellers, translated in 55 languages.