This trick doesn’t work for things that you can objectively measure; health markers, fitness levels, competence, things like that. But it does work for practically anything involving subjectivity; happiness, gratitude, creativity, all that fun stuff. It works for anything that depends primarily on our perspective or attitude. Here’s the trick:
Anything will work if you tell yourself that it’ll work.
I meditate. I tell myself that meditating will help me manage stress, denarrate, be more conscious of my own thoughts and feelings, and focus better, for longer. And voila! It does just that.
I write morning pages. I tell myself that writing morning pages will help me escape self-consciousness when I create, that it will help me unload and analyse some otherwise unaccessible emotions. And voila! It works.
Those are two relatively simple and straightforward examples of it-works-because-I-say-it-will-work. But I wonder how ridiculous we can get with this?
I massage my left big toe every morning for five minutes. I tell myself that massaging my left big toe will improve the relationship I have with my parents, that it will make me be less selfish and more appreciative. Will it?
I read smutty Twilight Saga fan fiction—erotic fiction set in the Twilight universe—for twenty minutes before I write in the morning. I tell myself that reading such literature will help me think differently and come up with unusual, original and entertaining perspectives. Will it?
The placebo effect is a well-documented and prominent phenomenon. It exists. But to what level? Can expectations really skew outcomes in such bizarre ways? Can massaging my big toe improve my relationships? Can erotic Twilight Saga fan fiction really unlock my creativity?
What do you think? Are we really that malleable and easy to influence? Because if we are, a lot of possibilities become apparent and a lot of problems because easily solvable, especially if we’re willing to fool ourselves.