white-rat-woman-hand-8526592Recently I caught a podcast featuring a story about personal thoughts impacting the behavior of others. In this case, how the lab technicians’ assumptions affected the performance of lab rats. I found myself laughing out loud: this was exactly what I do during massage sessions!

(Listen to the Invisibilia podcast for yourself via NPR)

The experiment went thus:  Overnight, the lead researcher labeled all the rat cages “smart” or “dumb.”  Unaware of the arbitrary nature of the labeling, the lab technicians proceeded the next day to run maze navigation tests with the rats.

All the rats behaved according to their labels.

How could that be? How could a rat know what the piece of paper on the cage said? “Dumb” rats performed poorly while “smart” rats learned the maze quickly.

The study concluded that it was the quality of touch – how the lab technicians handled the rats. Gentle touch for the “smart” rats positively influenced  performance. Rough, indifferent handling of the “dumb” rats manifested in diminished performance.

While targeting tight muscles, trigger points, inflamed tendons, etc, there’s always another intention in my mind. Especially during chair massage in offices, my hands are  conveying, in the parlance of this article: “You are a smart rat.”

And you are. You’ve got this. You are good at your job, and you are good at your life. You are loved and loving.

If you feel inclined, why not gently squeeze someone’s shoulder today? Or gently pat their forearm.  It may very well make a difference.