Skip to main content

One of my favorite movies is the Tom Hanks version of The Polar Express, based on the original book written by Chris van Allsburg. He penned it as a children’s story, and in my opinion, he chose the wrong target audience. Although entertaining to children, it can be both entertaining and educational (even life-changing) for adults.

The flagship song, performed by Josh Groban, should hint at the underlying power of the story. Well, it’s less of a hint than a direct invitation…the title of the song is simply, “Believe.”

The truth is that no natural force is more potent than human belief.

Mother Nature gave us a brain that is intricate and complex in design but simple and formidable in its capability. The foundation of our enormous potential is our power of belief.

The problem is that very few of us tap into that potential.

Why?

Because we don’t believe in the power of belief.

When we regard this magical gift as childish fantasy, our brain effectively destroys our power of belief, leaving only vague hope in its place.

I have written elsewhere in more detail about the structure and function of the human brain. I have summarized the emerging data that shows that we are able to harness the immense power of our cerebral cortex to silence (or at least control) the fear and doubt that originates in our protective reptilian brains, to deliver on our dreams.

It’s a powerful secret that highly successful people apply in their lives, and it’s available to each and every one of us.

This profound truth is captured in the story of the little boy who climbs onto the Polar Express filled with doubt and fear and returns home filled with belief and hope.

Why do we target fantastical movies to children? Perhaps we should rather ask why children believe more than adults do, and why this power decays as we “grow up.”

The answer lies deep within our brain and in the words of our family and friends. Our primitive reptilian brain is responsible for our survival. It teaches us to look out for danger, viewing everything with suspicion. Our well-meaning parents and family then add their voices of caution, guiding and guarding us against danger, pain, and disappointment. We shift from being naïve and hopeful to being cautious and cynical.

Slowly, our primitive brains and our environment erode our power of belief.

If you doubt this, watch any group of kids who, left to their own devices, engage in fantasy play. They don’t act as heroes and heroines. In their little minds, they are heroes and heroines.

They believe.

I remember reading a review that described The Polar Express as a “creepy” movie. As I read further, the reviewer went on to explain her description: She said it was “creepy” because it gently proposed that fantastical things really could happen. And she was right.

The power of belief is so potent that it can be a little frightening.

Toward the end of the movie, Santa’s workers are preparing his sleigh. A silver bell breaks off the harness of one of the reindeer. One of the children picks it up. He listens for its jingling sound and can’t hear anything…until he believes.

So, try inviting the power of childlike belief into your life, and see how the impossible becomes possible.