Thursday, 21 March 2013
A light post for this month, the start of semester, a good solid description of one of my favourite things in life: Food. We dont eat to live, but we live to eat is one of the frequently passed around these corners of the internet. I cannot agree more. The sights of seeing a freshly basked apple pie, the smell of simmering unagi served on a dollap of egg and broken rice, the feeling of melting gelato on your tongue, and of course: the taste of scallops and squid fried on a beer batter with that always unhealthy side of deep fried, sticks of potato.
What can I say? What I eat can oh so greatly affect the mood I am in. In the depths of disappointment post HSC I can always remember that steaming bowl of beef and broth that woke me up as we went on our way to the United States. In the greatest of times we celebrated friends birthdays, time after time again in Italian and French cuisines, soaring far higher than what our budgets could naturally afford, as that very icing on an already awesome day.
What I want to get at, is how such placebo effects work in conjunction with all the senses we have. I find food to encapsulate nearly all of our known senses in touch, taste, smell sights and sound. It compacts them all at the same time, and while I can definitely say I am not the most accurate foodie around, (I incorrectly separated poor from good quality fries) I can deifnitely say I am a fan of its effects. If we see something that is prepared well, presented finely we excpect the food to taste better. Of a fascinating study by the University of Michigan in the early 2000's, there was a noticeable difference in patrons enjoyment of the food when presenting with a sandwich that was cut diagnoally into trinagles, or cut straight into squares. ITS the SAME sandwich, yet 14% of people enjoyed the traingular sandwiched more!
Drawing away from food, this effect has been monumentally useful for me in known placebos. Not to draw any more from scientific studies, (I personally love them but even in excess they become mind numbingly dreary) scientists in the UK gave two different groups of patients treatment of athritis. One was given no pills, while another were given pills that clearly labelled *PLACEBO: SUGAR TABLETS* on its label. Despite knowing full well that the sugar tablets did nothing for their athritis, the second group marked a 17% FASTER recovery than the former group. Why does the human mind play such unusual tricks on us?
I find myself exploiting this to the nth degree. My friends would know of a lucky shirt that I own. While knowing full well that it is nothing more than a piece of grey cloth, I tell myself that it is a lucky shirt. the colours have faded, the design is awkward yet I have always worn it into every interview I have ever sat in, post 2009. The results? I have passed every interview I have ever sat for, attained positions in companies I could have never envisioned to join, appeared in society posters and representing organisations far greater than me. I had never gained anything prior to my ownership of this shirt, employment, social ability or otherwise. On a different note, I was explicitly asked out by a girl for the first time in my life. I've received very strong signals in the past but this is the first time its happened. And what a wonderful and charming soul she is, but in a twist of fate I don't reciprocate this strongly enough. But I hope to always be in contact and reach with you, JC.
As a final note, look at your watch, or necklace, earing or tie. Tell yourself that it is a lucky tie. It will definitely sound stupid, and for the most part useless. But the mind wil play tricks on you. Wear this somewhere in which the situation requires more of you than you usually offer, and experience the results.