But what we saw surprised us. While "Stupid" began to degrade and "Beautiful" held her form as we predicted, "Awesome" seemed to be doing worst of all, and "Ugly" wasn't much worse off than "Beautiful."
Were we doing something wrong? Or perhaps the whole premise of the experiment was bogus…
I contacted Jenn and sent her pictures. "I don't think it's working," I told her. But then Jenn saw what was right in front of our eyes that we had failed to see.
"Have you had the apples next to each other on that plate the whole time?" she asked. In her experiment, she'd separated the apples in individual glass jars.
"Yes, but we carried each apple to a separate corner of the room to talk to it, so the other apples wouldn't hear," I responded, feeling only slightly ridiculous for having a serious discussion about the feelings and hearing capabilities of apples.
And then it hit me. I looked at poor "Awesome" on the plate, in between "Stupid" and "Ugly," and thought about how hard it must have been for her to feel awesome when she was surrounded by such bad vibes.
And "Ugly," although we'd done our best to put her down, was cradled between "Awesome" and "Beautiful," and buoyed by their confidence, wasn't letting our cruel words sink in.
Of course, further experimentation is called for. Next I will replicate Jenn's experiment more carefully, keeping the apples separated so I can have better scientific control over the laboratory conditions.
But I believe the experimental oversight my daughters and I made may have just demonstrated something far more insightful than merely the power of words, spoken to ourselves or others. These results speak to the influence we have on those around us.
We all have a mechanism in our brains known as mirror neurons, a type of specialized brain cell that transmits impulses related to imitation. Mirror neurons are most active in children and are how we observe, absorb, and copy the behaviors and feelings of those around us. Perhaps it's the same with apples.
So, what kind of apple are you today? Are you feeling Stupid, Awesome, Ugly, or Beautiful? And how about the apples around you, how are they affecting you? I encourage you to pay attention, because ultimately, the laboratory of your life is one grand experiment, and you're the one controlling the conditions.