Dr David Collison PhD

The Collison Newsletter December 2009




At the commencement of a new year, especially at the start of a new decade, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the importance of the power of positive thinking.


The Power of Positive Thinking and The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking were two books written more than a half a century ago by Norman Vincent Peal. They set out the way to go about gaining a positive outcome by thinking positive thoughts.


We know the truth of the following: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he becomes”. Of course, thinking is the activity of our brains, but the reference to the heart is to underscore the fact that simple positive thoughts are not enough. They have to be linked to the emotions and feelings, and the desired outcome is to be expected, and even visualised as a reality, before it has occurred.

The Placebo Effect 

The medical literature is replete with clinical research documenting the placebo effect. Placebo is Latin for “I will please”. The placebo effect refers to the health benefits that are produced by a treatment that should have no effect (for example, a sugar tablet with no active ingredient) or to health benefits of greater effect than would realistically be expected from the intervention (procedure, drugs etc). It is not questioned that a patient’s positive expectations about an intervention can positively affect the outcome.

The Nocebo Effect 

The nocebo effect is the opposite of the placebo effect. Nocebo is Latin for “I will harm”. Patients with the nocebo effect experience the opposite to the placebo effect. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that’s just what they get. A recent review of the literature on the nocebo effect shows that patient expectation of adverse or harmful effects of a treatment or a procedure, or the expectation of possible unpleasant side-effects of a drug, played a significant role in the outcome of the treatment.

Positive Belief 

Seek out positive people. Try to find a ‘Healing Haven’, a place to retreat to when it becomes necessary to get away from the world, whether it be for a day or longer, or even just a few hours.


Believe in what you are doing.


Know why you are doing it.

Reality Therapy 

William Glasser, in his book Reality Therapy, points out that there are four basic requirements for health. The need:


To love


and be loved


To be worthwhile to ourselves


and to others.

What is Love? 

Love is not just a feeling. It has been described as follows, so that if someone says “I love you”, then the characteristics listed would typify the behaviour. If they are not manifested in the life and activities of that individual, then it is unlikely that there is love.


Love “suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, never faileth.”  (Old language of King James: 1 Corinthians, 13: 4-8).

Some Positive Thoughts 

The following are quotes from the book The Last Lecture by Professor Randy Pausch (published by Hachette Australia, 2008).


Ÿ         Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids’ dreams too.


Ÿ         Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.


Ÿ         Treat the disease, not the symptom.


Ÿ         … a substantial fraction of many people’s day is spent worrying about what others think of them. If nobody ever worried about what was in other people’s heads, we’d all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and in our jobs.


Ÿ         I love clichés. As I see it, the reason clichés are repeated so often is because they’re right on the money. A few examples:


Dance with the one who brung you. This applies far beyond the prom night. It should be a mantra in the business world, in academia, and at home. It’s a reminder about loyalty and appreciation.


Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. That comes from Seneca, the Roman philosopher who was born 5BC. It’ll be worth repeating for another two thousand years, at least.

Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. 

Ÿ         Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.


Ÿ         Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.


Ÿ         A lot of people want a shortcut. I find the best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: hard work….. If you work more hours than somebody else, during those hours you learn more about your craft. This can make you more efficient, more able, even happier. Hard work is like compound interest in the bank. The rewards build faster. The same is true in your life outside your job.


Ÿ         Go out and do for others what somebody did for you.


Ÿ         All you have is what you bring with you. I’ve always admired people who are over prepared. When you go into the wilderness, the only thing you can count on is what you take with you. And essentially, the wilderness is anywhere but your home or office.


Ÿ         If I could only give three words of advice, they would be “Tell the truth.” If I got three more words, I’d add “All the time.” You’re only as good as your word.


Ÿ         Apologies are not pass/fail. When giving an apology, any performance lower than an A (pass) really doesn’t cut it. Half hearted or insincere apologies are often worse than not apologising at all because recipients find them insulting. Proper apologies have three parts:

What I did was wrong,

I feel badly that I hurt you.

How do I make this better?


Ÿ         It’s interesting, the secrets you decide to reveal at the end of your life.


Ÿ         Everyone has to contribute to the common good. To not do so can be described in one word: selfish. When we are connected to others, we become better people.


Ÿ         There’s a decision we all have to make, and it is perfectly captured in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters created by A. A. Milne. Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?


Ÿ         It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.


“Whatsoever things are true,


Whatsoever things are honest,


Whatsoever things are just,


Whatsoever things are pure,


Whatsoever things are lovely,


Whatsoever things are of good report,


If there be any virtue, and


If there be any praise,

Think on these things”.

(Philippians: 4,8)


*Copyright 2009: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.