Tuesday Tune-Up

Every Tuesday, you’ll receive one actionable tip to improve your health, wealth, or happiness based on scientific evidence in less than 5 minutes.

Here’s an example of what it might look like (from Feb 7th, 2021)

Internal vs. External Locus of Control

What a driven young man Sam Berns was. Sam Berns suffered from Progeria. Progeria affects about 1 in 6 million children (a .00002% chance) and has an average survival of 13.5 years. That is extremely unlucky. I think, for Sam, it would have been very easy to fall into, “woe is me,” and feel sorry for himself; to feel the world was against him.

He did not do that. In his 17-year life, Sam gave a TED talk, took part in a documentary, and started a research foundation.

Sam was, however, aware of his shortened life-span, “… it’s not that I ignore when I am feeling badly. I kind of accept it. I let it in. So I can acknowledge it and do what I need to do to move past it […] I don’t waste energy feeling bad for myself. I surround myself with people I want to be with, and I keep moving forward.”

Yes, he was dealt a bad hand, but Sam knew he was capable of so much. Knew he could do so much. Sam, I think, had an internal locus of control. What’s that?

  • Internal Locus of Control: Individuals believe events in their life are primarily a result of their own actions.
  • External Locus of Control: Individuals believe events in their life are primarily a result of outside factors which the person cannot influence.

Sam could have let the disease dictate his life, “the world is against me, there is nothing I can do, because of what the world has inflicted on me I can accomplish nothing,” but no, he knew he was responsible for what he could accomplish. He was responsible for his happiness. He was responsible for his life.

Students who have an internal locus of control score better on exams (source). Start-up founders with a stronger internal locus of control are more likely to be successful (as defined as still being in business at 3 years, source).

If Sam accomplished so much and, more importantly, stayed positive and grateful throughout the course of his disease, what do I have to complain about? I am responsible for how well I do in medical school. I am responsible for how much I accomplish. I am responsible for myself. I wonder what cool things I can do?

Have a fantastic week,