Like most of America, we were thrilled by the U.S. women’s soccer team’s stunning performance on Sunday.
But we were also inspired by more than just the team’s win over Japan. In fact, we were just as excited to learn that star player Carli Lloyd credits visualization, the meditative practice of positive thinking, with helping her kill it on the soccer field.
While training just before Sunday’s game, Lloyd said she mentally visualized herself scoring four goals. She later went on to nail three into the net — the first woman in World Cup history to do so.
“When you’re feeling good mentally and physically, those plays are just instincts,” Lloyd, who was named the World Cup’s most outstanding player, told The New York Times. “It just happens.”
Curious how other badasses use visualization to do their best, we decided to look into a few other famous examples of the power of positive thinking:
In the early 1990s, Carrey was an unknown actor struggling to get by.
To stay motivated, he decided to write himself a check for $10 million for “acting services rendered,” dated it for 1994, and carried it in his wallet for daily inspiration. In 1994, Carrey learned he would reap exactly $10 million for his role in Dumb and Dumber.
Today, Carrey is one of America’s top movie stars — and he credits his constant visualization with helping him get there.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor
The dominating duo — the most successful female beach volleyball team in history — say they often rely on meditation, yoga and visualization to stay focused in the sand.
And with three Olympic gold medals under their belts, they might be on to something.
“A lot of what we do is visualization,” Walsh told USA TODAY. “To be able to … take in the sights, the sounds, the stress, the excitement — that’s going to serve us really well moving forward.”
As a young athlete, Schwarzenegger swore by the power of visualization to reach his bodybuilding goals.
“I had this fixed idea of growing a body like Reg Park’s. The model was there in my mind; I only had to grow enough to fill it,” he explained. “The more I focused in on this image and worked and grew, the more I saw it was real and possible for me to be like him.”
Later, when he transitioned to careers in acting and politics, Schwarzenegger said he employed similar mental tricks: “It’s the same process I used in bodybuilding: What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true.”
The media mogul, who pulled herself up from poverty to become one of the wealthiest women in the world, might be one of the biggest celebrity supporters of affirmations.
Her commitment started young: As a child watching her grandmother toil away, Winfrey says she’d tell herself over and over again: “My life won’t be like this. My life won’t be like this, it will be better.”
Besides frequently showcasing success stories of positive thinking on The Oprah Winfrey Show — and even discussing creating her own vision boards to realize her dreams — her many words of wisdom to fans include: “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe. ”
One of the most successful female skiers in history, the gold medalist says her mental practice gives her a competitive advantage on the course.
“I always visualize the run before I do it,” Vonn told mbg. “By the time I get to the start gate, I’ve run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.”
But she doesn’t just keep the images in her head. She’s also known to physically simulate the path by literally shifting her weight back and forth as if she were on skis, as well as practice the specific breathing patterns she’ll use during the race.
“I love that exercise,” Vonn has said. “Once I visualize a course, I never forget it. So I get on those lines and go through exactly the run that I want to have.”
A big advocate of the law of attraction, the award-winning actor says his positive thinking has helped him achieve happiness. “In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet,” Smith has said of the visualizing techniques that helped him along the way.
He’s also fond of quoting Confucius’s motivating motto, as way of explaining his blockbuster success: “He who who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”
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