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Your thoughts have a lot more substance than you might think.

Researchers found that when people wrote down their thoughts on a piece of paper and then threw the paper away, they mentally discarded the thoughts as well. But those who tucked the paper into their pocket were more likely to use them when later making judgments.

The findings suggest that people can treat their thoughts as material, concrete objects, said Richard Petty of Ohio State University, co-author of the study recently published in Psychological Science.

“At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works,” Petty said. “However you tag your thoughts—as trash or as worthy of protection—seems to make a difference in how you use those thoughts.”

In one experiment, high school students wrote about what they liked or disliked about their bodies. Half of the participants were told to contemplate their thoughts and then check them for grammar or spelling mistakes. The other half were told to contemplate their thoughts and then throw the paper away in a trash can.

Those who physically hung onto their thoughts were more likely to use them in forming judgments later when asked to rate their bodies on various scales (bad-good, unattractive-attractive, like-dislike).

“As would be expected, participants who wrote positive thoughts had more positive attitudes toward their bodies than did those who wrote negative thoughts,” reported the Association for Psychological Science. “However, those who threw their thoughts away showed no difference in how they rated their bodies, regardless of whether they wrote positive or negative thoughts.”

A similar experiment found that people were even more likely to rely on their thoughts when they placed them in a safe place like their pocket.

“This suggests you can magnify your thoughts, and make them more important to you, by keeping them with you in your wallet or purse,” Petty said.

That’s not surprising. When you write something down—whether it’s a thought, intention, or goal—you put your energy into it. It’s like writing a contract to yourself.

And, as Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond would tell you, it’s like sending a message to the universe, telling it exactly what you want.

Committing your goals and intentions to paper is a key aspect of nearly every self-learning program because of how effective this simple act is in achieving successful outcomes.

In Diamond Feng Shui, you write your intentions on what Marie calls “activation cards.” You then place them in specific directions to activate the flow of positive energy in your environment to support your success, health, relationships, and spiritual growth.

In my course Effortless Success, I stress the importance of committing your life purpose, goals, and dreams to paper. Writing about what you want is a way to gain clarity and form intention, which, in turn, activates the Law of Attraction.

Journaling can play a critical role in enhancing your ability to see energy and benefit from your meditations.

Writing your intentions initiates the remarkable goal-seeking capabilities of your brain. So as you approach the last quarter of your year, think about what you want to create in your life. Then write it down. Be very specific, and be positive.

When you’re done, place your goals in a location important to you. Or, carry them around in your pocket or purse to amplify their effect!


As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and speaks around the world on this subject. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!

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*Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner via Compfight cc