When deciding whether to believe something, we need to state the belief as clearly and specifically as possible. We can't be ambiguous--ambiguous claims have too many loopholes that can make them essentially untestable. For example, many people hold the superstition that things come in threes--such as deaths of celebrities--but they don't state a time horizon for the three events. Is it one week, one month, or five years? Without a time horizon, we can be misled into believing the superstition because, sooner or later, similar events will happen in the future. Remember that not all evidence is created equal. As we've seen, anecdotal evidence can lead us astray; human perception and memory can be distorted, and so personal stories can be misleading. Ambiguous data are very difficult to evaluate, and even scientific studies can have errors. And so, we have to proportion our belief not only to the amount of evidence for and against a claim, but to the quality of that evidence. There are often many possible explanations for phenomena. However, we're not naturally inclined, or taught, to look for competing alternatives, so we often focus on a single explanation (and it's usually the one that we want to believe). Since we also have a tendency to pay attention to information that supports our belief, we start to think it has considerable support. But there's often equally compelling evidence to support other competing explanations, if we simply look for it. We therefore have to make a conscious effort to consider alternative hypotheses and evaluate the evidence for them all. The importance of this step cannot be overemphasized. One of the most critical factors in improving how we form beliefs and make decisions is to be on the lookout for competing explanations. Is it testable? When evaluating any hypothesis, the first question to ask is, Can it be tested? Many hypotheses can't be tested. This often happens when we examine extraordinary phenomenon.

The inability to test doesn't mean that the hypothesis is false, but it does mean it's worthless from a scientific point of view. Why? If a hypothesis can't be tested, we'll never be able to determine its truth or falsehood. As Karl Popper indicated, a hypothesis has to be "falsifiable"; that is, we must be able to try to prove it wrong.11 If there's no way to falsify a hypothesis, we'll never be able to assess if it's true or false. As an example, consider my little gremlin. Can we test the hypothesis that I have a gremlin on my shoulder and he's responsible for all my actions? If you say, "Let's see him," I say, "He's invisible." If you say, "Let's hear him," I say, "He only talks to me." "Ask him to leave so I can see if you still function normally," you suggest. "Sorry, but I can't--he's there all the time," I sigh. In effect, for every test proposed, there's a reason why it can't be used to detect my gremlin. As a consequence, the gremlin hypothesis is worthless. As Carl Sagan has noted, "Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder." What has been the tone and content of your internal dialogue since that event? Do you find your real-time, "normal speed" conversations in your daily life reflecting the changes that occurred within you and are associated with that event? On those occasions when you reflect on the event, what do you say to yourself? On those occasions when you're not reflecting directly on the event, but it causes you to experience guilt and shame, what is it that you say to yourself then, even if it does not specifically reference the event? In any case, if a negative internal dialogue appears to be a result of this event, describe that dialogue, in writing. Understand that the internal dialogue may not be specifically about the event. It may be an internal dialogue that is laced with messages of doubt and incompetence or some other residual of your most toxic event. If some event shook your faith in you, even though the current-day manifestation does not involve specific references to the origin, it is still highly relevant. What labels have you generated for yourself as a result of your event?

As a consequence of your event, what have you told yourself about you? Rhonda discovered that she used labels for herself such as "dirty" or "damaged goods," "nothing to offer," "ashamed," and "a thing to be used for someone else's pleasure." Consider whether you, too, have come up with labels for yourself, labels that you use as a result of this specific event. Review the labels you wrote down in the labels chapter and add to or take away from that list. You may discover more labels, now that you have been working on all of this so much more--write those labels down. What tapes has this event generated or contributed to? As a result of what you have "learned" in the wake of this event, have you developed an automatic, unthinking response, one that judges you and predicts what your outcome will be in a given situation? If you suspect that in your most stressful situations a particular tape is screaming messages of failure, is that tape a consequence of the event that you're addressing here? What are the fixed beliefs and resulting life script that you have constructed as a result of your event? Do you suspect that you live to a "script" derived from this event, a set of words, thoughts, and behaviors that you blindly obey, time after time? How have you limited yourself as a result of this event? Have you simply given up on expecting the world to treat you differently? Have you limited yourself to what you are as of this very moment? Rhonda, for example, lived a life script in which she resisted any opportunity to socialize with men, even in a safe and relaxed environment, fearing that that might upset a predictable--although painful--way of life. She lived to her beliefs, alternating between blatant promiscuity and complete shameful, withdrawal. How do these beliefs relate to your early experience? Identify any connection you see between the event you are considering and the fixed beliefs that you're living with. I've always had a deep-seated need to think for myself, figure things out on my own, and not rely too much on input from outside sources. My thought process begins by intellectually examining a concept, mulling it over in my mind, and figuring how it came to be. I also look at what it means and how it connects to other ideas. This process has been no different with my lifelong passion for expectations and their relevance to life as a whole.

The journey began when I was a little boy and has brought me to this point sixty-five years later. I can only imagine what you're thinking, what does this have to do with quantum physics? I'll be making this case in story form, so let me start from the beginning. You may be wondering what in the world this has to do with quantum physics. I'm sure you have heard stories of people whose thoughts come true after they think it. Many people have dealt with tragic events that involve death or disaster. The people think negatively, compounding it to make it worse. I have always believed that when that little boy put out those positive questions and thought patterns, he set the stage for the positive events and outcomes that subsequently unfolded in his life. Did my high expectations really influence how my journey has unfolded? Here's what I think: When that little boy looked out into that vast universe and asked aloud what was to become of him, he set in motion a sequence of electrical impulses that moved outward into the atmosphere. This started a chain reaction in the universe---positive charges that rippled across time and space and continue to have a butterfly effect throughout eternity. Sounds farfetched, doesn't it? But the world of physics, and particularly quantum physics, is taking huge steps toward proving that thought patterns actually send out impulses that can influence matter and objects! The mind is an incredibly powerful tool; what you think matters. Expectations are no different. What you expect of yourself is a huge factor in what you ultimately make of yourself, what you become in the course of your life, and those that you touch. The mind is more powerful than anyone can even know. I seek to prove this hypothesis using quantum mechanical calculations to validate the expectation value. Scientists have created an equation using that value. Whether or not that formula can be adapted to theoretical quantum physics, and what the relationship will be, remains to be discovered.

In short, the average particle position, the radius of hydrogen electrons at their ground state, their momentum, and the energy of free particles may hold the key to the answering how mental expectations impact the physical environment and the universe. Reducing unnecessary meetings by increasing the effort of calling one, following good rules of synchronous communication, and ensuring people are engaged in the meeting instead of on their devices will make them much less awful. Though the modern workplace is full of potential distractions, it is up to us to manage them by continually trying new ways to stay focused. Pick a few tactics you've learned from this section to try, and ask a couple of colleagues if they're willing to give them a shot as well. Hacking back external triggers, whether in the office or on our devices, is an effective remedy for distraction that can help us work and live better. Make it harder to call a meeting. To call a meeting, the organizer must circulate an agenda and briefing document. Meetings are for consensus building. With few exceptions, creative problem-solving should occur before the meeting, individually or in very small groups. Be fully present. People use devices during meetings to escape monotony and boredom, which subsequently makes meetings even worse. Have one laptop per meeting. Devices in everyone's hands makes it more difficult to achieve the purpose of the meeting. With the exception of one laptop in the room for presenting information and taking notes, leave devices outside. It's clear that many people, myself included, are dependent on their smartphones. Whether it's to keep in contact with family, navigate around town, or listen to audiobooks, this miracle device in our pockets has become indispensable. That same utility, however, also makes the smartphone a major source of potential distraction. The good news is, being dependent is not the same thing as being addicted. We can get the best out of our devices without letting them get the best of us. By hacking back our phones, we can short-circuit the external triggers that spark harmful behaviors.