One morning I jumped in the swimming pool and the words “eighty-four degrees” popped into my head. Somehow I knew, without a doubt in the world, that the temperature of the water that morning was 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Just to confirm my impression, I dropped my “Gator-mometer” into the water. Sure enough, 84 degrees. Over the next few days, then weeks, as the temperature in the pool fluctuated, I continued to “guess” the water temperature each time I jumped in. Without fail, with an accuracy of one degree Fahrenheit or less, I got it right every time.
I then realized I had become something of a “human thermometer.” As long as the water temperature was comfortable for swimming or floating (roughly between 74 and 92 degrees), I was able to know what the temperature was just by immersing myself in the water.
I was not born with this ability. I trained myself to do it, entirely by accident.
Swimming is one of my favorite exercises. Each morning from late April through early October, I swim laps in my backyard pool. It’s a great way to exercise on a hot day without getting all hot and sweaty.
Because I’m curious about such things, I have always used a pool thermometer to measure the temperature of the pool whenever I get in. My particular thermometer has a rubber alligator attached to the top of it, to make it float. So I refer to it as my Gator-mometer.
Dependably checking my Gator-mometer every day, at a moment when I was immersed in the water, I ended up calibrating my body’s natural temperature-sensing mechanism to the Fahrenheit scale. It certainly wasn’t anything I “tried” to do. I just took the measurement every day, and felt what it felt like. Then one day I jumped in and discovered that I could very accurately measure water temperature. A human thermometer.
I didn’t really develop any new fundamental ability. Every healthy person is able to sense warm and cold. What I did was connect those sensations to specific numbers. Over time, with daily reinforcement, it made me into The Amazing Human Thermometer. It certainly won’t get me a spot on “America’s Got Talent.” But it does earn me a little respect at the beach or at pool parties.
What’s most interesting to me is the way it came about. I did not try to learn how to be a human thermometer. Yet as a result of my consistent actions, day after day, it did indeed happen. And that made me wonder. What else am I training myself to do, or what other way am I training myself to be, that I don’t even realize?
We humans are highly adaptable creatures. We can train ourselves to do an amazingly wide variety of things. Useful things and hurtful things. Some of that training is intentional, but a whole lot of it is not. After all, you didn’t intentionally try to learn to talk or to walk, at least not on the level of awareness where you now spend most of your life. You just watched, and imitated, and persisted, and learned all sorts of skills.
So, what are you training yourself to do now, with the habits and assumptions, expectations and activities you engage in day after day? What skills and perspectives are you programming into your life that you don’t even realize?
I started writing The Daily Motivator back in 1995 because I understood the power of positive reinforcement on a daily basis. The messages are short and simple and not particularly earth shattering. One thing they are, though, is consistent. I take Sundays off, but other than that I have never missed a single day of writing a new, original daily message in nineteen years.
And you know what? They make a real difference for people. Not overnight, but over time. Because just like jumping in the pool and checking the thermometer, the messages give readers a dependably positive frame of reference to which they can return day after day after day.
You cannot possibly know all the ways you’re training and shaping and influencing your future self. What you can do, though, is make sure you keep your highest values, visions and dreams at the forefront of your awareness.
That’s what The Daily Motivator helps folks to do. And as the most highly accomplished people know, it works.