The Power of Belief

Have you ever tasted pasta that was cooked in unsalted water? You find yourself wondering when will it taste good but that moment never comes. This was my life in May 2011­—bland pasta.

Down but not out

People I trusted had recently thrown me under the bus, which felt like a knife to the chest. I never saw it coming and it packed one hell of a punch. It was on my mind 24/7 and I struggled to make sense of it. I found myself second-guessing everything I knew and it filled me with anger and rage. I wanted to slap the shit out of someone but cooler heads prevailed. I knew that it was going to take some time and some answers to process it but I couldn’t help feeling like someone had control over me. It was a crappy feeling and I needed to regain control quickly or else I may become a prisoner to my own negative mindset. Giving up control to someone else was never a part of my life before but there I was standing alone facing the fire. My first instinct was to fight fire with fire and open up a can of woopass upon my enemies. I decided not to play that game as that would simply be playing into someone else’s hand and would make me no better than them.

The one place that always brought me back to earth and softened my frustrations was the gym. I had been working out at Cressey Sports Performance with the greatest athletic coach in the country, Eric Cressey. Eric and I have a special bond both personally and professionally and I trust him like a brother. One afternoon I approached Eric and asked him if he would be willing to help with something. I needed a challenge to deflect my anger but a challenge none-the-less that would make me a better version of myself.  I was a high school and college athlete and had spent much of my life working out. Many years ago, I broke the 225lb. bench press mark and dreamed of one day pressing 315lbs. Unfortunately it never happened for me even though I worked diligently for years. I soon realized why so few people are able to do it—it’s freakin hard and takes tremendous dedication.


I really had no business at the age of 47 attempting that which the 25-year-old version of me couldn’t do. Perhaps there are just some things that are physically impossible. It was a hard pill to swallow but this was a new day. I recently had my ass unjustly kicked beyond belief and I felt like the Tasmanian devil. I decided to ask the man who knew more about strength training and conditioning than anyone on the planet. “Eric do you think that this body is capable of benching 315lbs.” He gave pause and said hell yeah”. In that moment everything changed. If Eric Cressey believes that I can, then why the hell not? I was reminded that if you don’t BELIEVE, you’re dead in the water. Perhaps that was why I failed so often to fulfill my bench press goal.   Before I started, my bench press was 265 and Eric gave me just 8 weeks to press 315. That was a significant amount of weight but he assured me that if I followed his program and gave it everything I had that it was possible. I showed up everyday and attacked the challenge as if my life depended upon it. In some ways it did. I BELIEVED that I would make it and spent many an hour just visualizing myself pressing that weight.

On that fateful day, I slipped into the gym hoping to go unnoticed but much to my surprise the entire gym was waiting for me. They were super excited and couldn’t wait to see a fellow athlete reach a personal record. There were so many eyes watching me that I got nervous and felt myself starting to implode emotionally. Just then the toughest son of a bitch in the gym grabbed me by the back of the neck and assured me…“you got this-now lets go”. It was in that moment where belief met anger and out the other side came a man who conquered another difficult situation in this thing called life. What I didn’t expect was the outpouring of emotion by the professional athletes. I didn’t realize that my story would have such an impact. Everyone was hugging each other and high-fiving. I stood there humbled and surrounded by brothers just like me. In that moment, I realized the POWER OF BELIEF in shaping my life. I had finally regained control and had inspired a room of tremendous young men. In the end, getting tossed under the bus was a necessary part of my development. I became more aware of who I am and the power of my choices. So what do you believe?

Dr. Peter Percuoco
Dr. Peter Percuoco

Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 27 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.

Happy Spouse – Happy House

The statement happy wife – happy life has been tossed around for decades, perhaps centuries or even millennia. I think it’s time for a change. Don’t forget that the earth was once flat until Copernicus and Galileo challenged the theory to expose the truth. OK maybe the comparison falls a little short but you get the picture.

If happy wife – happy life is the formula for a successful marriage, then why are so many heading to divorce court? I propose a new and improved version: Happy Spouse Happy House. I hope I don’t offend any of the wives and moms out there but when did marriage become about the happiness of the wife? When my wife and I got married, we said “I do” to each other.   So why should it be solely about her happiness? Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and would do anything for her. She’s an incredible mother, great friend, and an all around amazing person and I love it when she’s happy.   I believe that I possess the same great qualities so why isn’t it something like let’s be glad for the happy dad!

The truth is that both spouses possess the ability to be happy. Happiness comes from within and is tied to your perspective. You get to choose whether you want to be happy or miserable, regardless of the circumstances facing you. When you experience your own happiness and joy it becomes infectious and your spouse can’t help but start to feel the same way. You can work diligently to make your spouse happy but if they’re not happy with themselves, you’re in for a rough ride amigo. In fact, you may compromise who you are and feel overwhelmed with frustration which for some leads to bad choices which further stresses the marriage and you know what happens next. UGH!

Some things to consider:

  • Remain authentic and be yourself. Don’t change your principles for anyone except yourself. If you think you need to make some changes because you believe that these changes will improve your situation, then by all means. This is called growth.
  • You’re not going to change each other no matter how hard each of you tries. You got the entire package when you said “I do”, which means both the smooth surfaces and rough edges. You have to be OK with both.
  • Never start conversation with the word YOU. Statements like YOU have been distant and in a foul mood lately so what the hell is YOUR problem? are likely to lead to your spouses temporary deafness. Perhaps you start with something like, Honey I need your help. I’m struggling to connect with you and I was hoping that you might show me how to be a better mate. You haven’t changed, you’re simply becoming a more compassionate version of yourself. Miraculously the ears are opened and perhaps you pave a new road that connects you 2 stronger than ever. It’s called communication.

The statement happy wife-happy life may be just a funny axiom but at it’s core it leads to resentment, frustration and lack of fulfillment for both. Find your happiness within and develop it. Your spouse is likely to follow you.

Together you can create a Happy Spouse Happy House!

Dr. Peter Percuoco
Dr. Peter Percuoco

Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 27 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.

The Ugliness of Stress

When you find yourself in a dark place, you’re likely aware that you’re suffering emotionally but what happens to your body? Unhappiness is not confined to your brain. It cascades throughout your body through a well-known process known as the stress response. In her book Mind over Medicine Dr. Lissa Rankin reports, “When something hurts emotionally, an alarm is sounded. The stress response is triggered, even though there is no immediate bodily threat— just anger, disappointment, frustration, pessimism, heartbreak, grief, and other upsetting emotions”. The response to this stress is the release of a stress hormone called cortisol.

In short bursts, cortisol is essential for steadying your body for a life saving event. Imagine being chased by a bear through the woods. The energy normally used for digestion and healing is directed by cortisol to the muscles so that your can either run like hell or face the beast and fight it out. The heart and lungs work faster to bring blood and oxygen to the brain and muscles. It increases all of your senses (smell, taste, sight and sound, etc.) so that you’re super sensitive to what’s going on around you to increase your chances of survival. This is called the fight or flight reaction. The only problem is that the brain doesn’t know the difference whether a bear is chasing you; your boyfriend cheated on you or your boss is riding you. Cortisol is being chronically released.

Negative emotions that result in the release of cortisol promote the production of chemicals (cytokines) that promote inflammation, which has been linked to certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, negative feelings can contribute to delayed wound healing and infection, as cortisol weakness your immune system. When negative moods like pessimism, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression prevail, the stress response turns on and stays on, leading to gastrointestinal disorders, greater vulnerability to infections and cancer, heart disease, hormonal disorders, and more. Yuck!

Almost every major illness that people acquire has been linked to chronic stress. Between 75-90% of doctor visits have stress as a major contributing factor. I can personally attest to this as I enter my 28th year of clinical practice dedicated to treating human sickness and suffering. Most of the conditions that I see are as a result of the patient’s stressful lifestyle and they are usually the last one to recognize it. The biggest problem with chronic stress is that it adversely affects the brain and your overall sense of peace and fulfillment.

If you happened to have read my blog, The enemy within, I spoke of the conscious and unconscious mind. Allow me to name the conscious mind as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the unconscious mind as the amygdala.   The PFC connects to multiple areas of your brain receiving data which allows you to think and react to your world in a such a way to minimize suffering and maximize joy and happiness. It’s within the left prefrontal cortex where happiness is created.

On the other hand, the amygdala is the boss when it comes to processing and storing memories of various emotions. In fact, the amygdala experiences emotions even before the conscious PFC does. Hence you may experience a deep emotion unconsciously long before you even sense it cognitively with the conscious PFC.  This may put you in a mood and you aren’t even aware of where it’s coming from.  Sound familiar?  The amygdala is more reactive during chronic repetitive stress and has the probability of activating old programmed behavior unconsciously so that you aren’t even aware of your volatile behavior. Don’t worry though; everyone in the room senses your struggle. Repetitive triggering of the stress response makes the amygdala more reactive to apparent threats. In essence you learn to be more fearful and anxious and develop programs to protect yourself, which in long run actually derails your emotional advance to happiness and fulfillment. Even the structure of the PFC is adversely changed as your happiness suffers. The unconscious mind, the amygdala, is not concerned with your happiness—only your survival.

When cortisol levels elevate during a stressful event, the blood from the PFC is shunted to the amgydala. Has anyone ever asked you during a stressful argument, “are you are out of your mind?” The answer may be YES as the PFC is functioning at its lowest level while the amgydala is on overdrive responding to stress with preprogrammed and often times inappropriate behavior.

Have you ever noticed when you’re stressed before a big meeting, an athletic event, or a speaking engagement that you lose your train of thought (decreased PFC) as you start to shut down.  Then you begin to sweat, hyperventilate and feel nauseas, (highly active amygdala).  This is a direct result of the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

Stay tuned for the next installment this week when I describe how cortisol effects  the chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters). In the mean time, you’ve got to get happy fast to save your brain and body from yourself.  Try these simply exercises to calm your amgydala and let the PFC dominate.

  • Turn off the news.  Stop perseverating over Trump politics.  Your brain and body need you to refocus.
  • Everyday before you get out of bed, give thanks for at least 3 blessings in your life. Gratitude jacks the PFC.
  • Go for a walk outside in nature.  Let your environment remind you of how beautiful and complex nature is.  You are nature.
  • Reach out to someone in need and offer them some warmth and friendship.
  • Give a hug to someone.
  • Above all else, learn to smile at perfect strangers.

Dr. Peter Percuoco

Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 27 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.


The Enemy Within

Have you ever noticed that people just have a way of pissing you off? How and why do they do that to you? Do they have some special power or are they just idiots. Actually neither. They’re just another living organism en route to somewhere. Do you think they wake up thinking I’m gonna piss that dude off? Highly unlikely. They’re just being who they are and you take exception to them. Wait — you mean that I’m pissing myself off? Exactly. We’re surrounded by stimulation and some of it rolls right off and some of it hits like a hammer. Why is that?

To answer this question you have to have an appreciation for the human brain. Your brain has both a conscious and an unconscious part. Believe it or not neuroscientists report that up to 99% of your daily behaviors are a function of the programming of your subconscious mind. That means that less than 1% of how you feel is conscious. Much of how you feel and react to the world around you has been subconsciously programmed by someone else other than you.

Your subconscious thoughts were established by programming specialists known as your parents. As soon as your brain was able to download data from the world, subconscious programming was off and running. Early programming starts inside the womb and becomes increasingly strong until at least the age of 6. After all, you couldn’t do much conscious thinking about the world until then.

Imagine yourself at age 2 sitting in your high chair witnessing your parents argue. Your parents barely give you a thought because you’re too young to know what’s going on. WRONG! You may be too young to understand how the argument fits into the world but your subconscious mind is learning how to protect itself during confrontation. You’ve experienced your parents’ behavior and you will soon mimic it strengthening your ability to behave just like them. This behavior starts as a child and will likely continue to plague you for the rest of your life when someone or something activates the program. You will likely be unaware that your behavior is a function of a learned response that may have had nothing to do with you at all.

Know this, the unconscious mind doesn’t care whether you thrive in this life or not. It’s simply there to keep you alive and protects you from pain and disappointment. Unfortunately, you may act like a knucklehead hampering your personal development. You may develop a condition known as IGOTSCREWEDitis when actually you have been screwing yourself with your crappy behavior from a subconscious program. Your brain is full of these subconscious programs.

Consider this. When you drive and talk on the phone, who’s driving the car? Your subconscious is driving the car. It knows exactly what to do without you having to think about it because your conscious mind is involved in a phone conversation. It’s another example of a learned program that doesn’t require the conscious minds input.

On the flip side, imagine growing up in an environment with parents who accepted each other with all their flaws and found a way to love and nurture a family. Perhaps you heard things like, we love you so much, anything you set your mind to you can achieve, when things get tough remember that we’ll always have your back, mistakes are encouraged as they will teach you how to grow, I forgive you, and the most powerful of all…I’m sorry.

If your brain produces programs out of these types of behaviors, then you’ll be conditioned for success. You’ll react to things differently than the person who learned protective programs. You will always seem to come out on top of almost any situation.

How do you change a program of the unconscious mind? You first have to recognize how you react to certain stimuli. For example, imagine as a kid you were constantly accused of hurting your baby sister, as she would always cry when your parents left the room. “ What did you do to her?” your parents exclaimed. You’re constantly blamed for something that you didn’t do. You learned to act out in defiance. As an adult, someone accuses you of something trivial and you lose your mind. You’re thinking that this person FREAKING PISSES ME OFF. Who do they think are? Realistically you’ve over reacted because of something that happened many years ago but you’ve been strengthening this behavior for many decades and now find yourself alone—angry and pissed at the world that’s been screwing you.

Once you recognize the behavior and the ugly feelings that come with it, engage your superpower—the conscious mind. Tell your subconscious mind that you will no longer be a victim to this feeling and behavior and to knock it off. Exercise restraint and recognize that the fight is within not with the person or problem in front of you. Let your conscious mind decide how it wants to feel. Instead of feeling anger and frustration from an old subconscious program, use your conscious brain to quickly focus on things that you are grateful for. It won’t change in a second but with consistency it’ll become a habit and you will rewrite the subconscious program. When you become skilled at this, your behavior will change, you will change as a person, and things will start to come your way. Life will no longer be out to screw you. You’ll stop pissing yourself off.

Give it a shot and be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Dr. Peter Percuoco
Dr. Peter Percuoco

Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 27 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.