ERSOY: How other people’s achievements can affect us

I think we all like to read, watch or hear about someone else’s success story. Our brain actually loves to hear inspiring stories, especially if the story has emotions attached to it, and this releases the hormone oxytocin which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for empathy.

Studies have shown that when the brain synthesizes oxytocin we become more generous, trustworthy, and compassionate, and it has the power to affect our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

These stories inspire us, and they make us curious as to how the person was able to achieve what they did. Many people are doing amazing things — maybe losing 100 pounds and starting running marathons, or going from being homeless to building a successful business, or overcoming difficult health issues, and so many more. But all of them have one thing always in common, and that is that you cannot get anything unless you are actively pursuing it.

Now all these stories may inspire us, and the person’s success will motivate us, for a short time. But how long can we can remain attached to that feeling and stay inspired? Most likely, unless we are already at the stage where we are ready to act and start actively pursuing our goals, that inspiration will quickly fade. Because no matter how inspiring, our goals and reasoning are completely different from anyone else’s, so you will never feel the same way as the person who inspired you. It may be similar, but never the same.

When watching or reading or listening to these amazing stories, we should find the way to look behind the story and learn from them. Which tactics did the person use, what was the timeframe, how did they feel once they had achieved success, but also how did they feel before they started? Personally, I look at everyone as my teacher, and I think that we can all learn from each other. I think that if you can look deep into other people’s success stories then you can learn something from every one, and even one simple thing could make a huge difference. You are learning while pursuing your goals, and as you go along you may need to reevaluate your goals and ultimately you may even end up better than you thought possible.

When we finally have whatever we were aiming for then we may be happy, but actually most of the time it is not such a big deal anymore. Mostly we will have even forgotten the pain that we had on the way. Yes, the cliche that it is the journey, not the destination, that is most important may be true but nonetheless if you don’t know what your destination is then there will be no journey.

Here are just a few inspiring stories from so many, but I hope that if you are ready to leap that they may help you to take first step.

A lady ran the Chicago marathon in 3 hours and 27 minutes at the age of 70. Her name is Jeannie Rice, she started running when she was 19 years old and has now finished 100 marathons. She proved that if you keep going you can beat your age and do things that most people half your age would consider impossible.

Then there’s the Kenyan runner who made history by breaking the 2 hour barrier for the marathon (26.2 miles), running it in 1.59.40. He says “no human is limited”, which is so true. There’s a documentary called “The Last Milestone” if you are interested to watch it, his name is Eliud Kipchoge.

The final story is a little different and is about a professional athlete with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects the ability to move and maintain balance and posture. His name is Justin Gallegos and he didn’t accept those limitations so he started to exercise and eventually run, he even signed a contract with Nike and he became the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy. He never thought before about becoming a professional runner, he just wanted to become strong and improve his quality of his life.

It might seem to you that these stories are only about running and physical ability, but if you look closely then you will find that you can apply the force that drives these individuals to almost every aspect of your life. They might have achieved what we would consider almost impossible, but we all have our stories and goals, so whatever you want to achieve just keep pursuing and eventually you will get it or at least improve so much from where you started. They were not super human, they just trained their mind and stayed focused on their goal. We only need to pay attention and remember that without purpose we will never get what we want.


• Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative

• How Stories Change the Brain

• 2 Running Stories From 2018 Sure to Inspire You


• Kipchoge, The Last Milestone

• Cerebral Palsy

• Justin Gallegos Still in Shock From His Surprise Nike Contract


Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.


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