Can you change your life merely through choosing different throughts? How powerful is your mind when it comes to the choices you make and how you live your life? And how much of your life are you living on autopilot? these are some questions I have been asking of myself, having just watched Derren Brown's Hero (on Channel4 OD). And I've become a bit of a Derren addict. So much so that after watching this programme I watched a few more shows and am now on to reading his first book, Tricks of the Mind.
It was Hero that first got me going, though, as in a nutshell, he selects a member of the public - a regular, ordinary 'Joe' who has a boring job, low self-esteem, no ambitions, still lives with his parents etc - and turns him into a hero within 30 days. And the way Derren does this - with the assistance and compliance of the unsuspecting man's family - is to implant suggestions into his mind. It amazes me that Derren is able to wake this guy - Matt, I think his name is - and yet keep him in a slumbering, half awake half asleep state - and tell him and show him things that, once awake, inform his choices in life. One example is that Derren is able to pursuade Matt to get out of bed in the middle of the night, follow him into a car, then in a field, and put his hand on an aligator! Derren is showing him the power of nature and of this beast, who has tenacity and determination: qualities he wants to instill in Matt. How Matt does not remember this and puts it down to a dream I have no idea (and I'd like to think I'd not be as open to suggestion, and as gullable, though I fear I probably would be, but yet I like to think I'd be smart enough to work it out).
Anyway, over the course of a month, Derren plants certain situations and objects into Matt's life that give him opportunities to choose to engage with life, to help people, to come closer to his own family, and not to stay the same reclusive, sitting-in-his-bedroom-night-after-night kind of guy he has always been.
The show ends with Matt in an aeroplane, believing he is becoming a hero by landing it after an 'emergency' situation. You have to see it to believe it.
But why I am mentioning all this is that this show really had a profound affect on me, which I presume was Derren's intention (OK, not to influence me, specifically, but anyone watching), and, in a small way, made me immediately engage with life, insofar that I had arrived home, exhausted from a very busy day in the office and had thought I could not be bothered to go to my regular dance class - the first of the New Year. I was feeling sluggish, lazy and listless I suppose; but having watched the first half of this show, and listening to Derren implant the information in Matt's head that it's a miracle any one of us is here, as it's all dependent on our ancestors all meeting and falling in love and a particular egg and sperm meeting, added to the messages that life is precious and surely we are here to engage with it and follow our passions, it was enough for me to think 'right, I'm going out to my dance class' and so I did. OK, maybe a small example of engaging with life but a start! and it lifted me, incredibly, out of my tired state.
I finished watching it when I got back and ended up going on to also watch his Messiah programme, where he goes to America and dupes a number of religious and spiritual people into thinking he has psychic powers, but I'll write about that another time.
My main reason for writing this post is to encourage you to all watch Hero, as it was truly inspiring to see how powerful the mind, and suggestions placed in it, can be. An average guy can be turned into a hero through his actions and beliefs. For it is our beliefs that determine what we do, whether we believe we can do something, and how many risks we take to fulfil our dreams. However, it is also useful to note that if we are affected by positive thoughts the same is true for negative thoughts. Derren, I presume, could have easily made someone depressed and suicidal by implanting thoughts of hopelessness and dispair, but then he would never do that. But, this is a good reminder to be aware of what you expose yourself to, the messages you take in, because if we are all so susceptible and impressionable, we can all be programmed with negative thoughts. This is why it's so important to be mindful of who you spend time with, what you watch and listen to, what you read, and who you trust. We are all impressionable to a lesser or greater extent; but knowing this can give you the power to sow seeds of positivity and courage into your subconscious and go out and live a fantastic life.