I have been accused of magical thinking. So, I had to do some research about the term and it’s meaning. Honestly, I’d never heard it before. Turns out, it’s a thing. So, I have looked up several definitions on psychology websites. They all pretty much say the same thing. Here is one that I like from study.com.
Magical thinking is a term that broadly refers to the belief that an event will occur as a result of another without any cause and effect relationship. More specifically, magical thinking refers to the notion that a person’s thoughts or actions, including spoken word and the use of symbols, can alter the course of events in the physical realm without a causal link.
What this really boils down to is a belief that one can change the world around them with thoughts or rituals or words and create a desired response. Superstition is another way to think about it. So, for example, believing that when you wear your “special” socks your team will win the big game. Or believing that you will win the lottery because you always play your lucky numbers. Or believing that driving a certain car will get you laid (Ok, that one might be true). Why do we do this as adult human males? Yes, we all do this to one extent or another. Magical thinking is a way to feel like we are in control of things that, in reality, we have no control over. In a purely scientific view, even praying is a form of magical thinking.
After reading several articles on “magical thinking” I think I actually am guilty of it, but not because I think my favorite t-shirt keeps my car from breaking down or there is some magically seductive phrase that will make a woman become my sex slave. I personally don’t like the term “magical thinking” and at the same time, I do believe there are certain mindsets, there are certain ways of viewing the world, that absolutely affect not only how we penetrate the world, but also how attractive we are IN the world.
My point is that there are mindsets, beliefs systems and ways of interpreting the world that are much more successful in achieving what a man wants in his life. There are mindsets that lead to certain actions that are generally found as attractive by other people. It is important to remember that the reactions you currently get in life are due, in a significant way, to the way you operate in the world. I can prove it. When a man changes the way he operates, then those in relation to him have no choice but to also change. A prime example of this is the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is filled with examples of people changing their approach, which, in turn, changes the response. Another great book is ‘As a Man Thinketh’ by James Allen. It is a very short book in which he poetically illustrates that the mind determines the course of your life. What you focus on comes back to you. There are scores of papers about belief systems and cognitive processing and the way in which one thinks determines how they feel about life. If a man feels that he constantly gets shafted in life, then he is getting shafted.
We tend to get what we focus on. That’s the important take-away. If you focus on humility, you will experience humility. If you focus on generosity, you will experience generosity. If you focus on hospitality, you will experience hospitality. If you focus on gratitude, etc. Likewise, if you focus on darkness, you will experience darkness. If you focus on sadness you will experience sadness, and on and on. I will illustrate. You could even do this yourself. Let’s say that you are interested in a new type of car. Maybe you have your mind set on a new Tesla. Now that your mind is focused on a Tesla and you have done a little research, as you drive down the road, you will start to notice all the Teslas around and passing by that you never noticed before. They were always there, you just never saw them because your mind was not focused on them.
Now let’s apply this to an interaction with your wife. Let’s say you are out on your back deck enjoying the sunset and your wife walks out and asks what you are thinking about. If you are in a marriage rut, she might say something like “Are you thinking about how much you don’t like me?” AND here is where ‘magical thinking’ comes in. Your mindset is GOING to determine what happens in that moment. You could say something smart ass like “And how much of a bitch you are.” You could smile and not say anything. You could say “no honey” or any variety of negative, indifferent, or neutral responses that either impact how she FEELS negatively or neutrally, either of which does not improve your life.
You could respond with something like “Actually I was sitting here watching the sun turn the sky every incredible color from vibrant orange to blood red and how it makes clouds like you could slide down them. I was thinking about how fortunate I am to be here in this wonderful life with you. I’d love it if you sat down here beside me and took my hand for a minute and we just enjoyed the most incredible watercolor painting you could ever see, if only for a little bit.”
Which one do you think is going to draw your wife closer?
This is ‘magical thinking’ at its finest. It is having a mindset of appreciation and relationship and invitation instead of having a mind filled with anger and resentment and hate and revenge. It is how you position things in your mind. It is what you CHOOSE to focus on. This would be really hard to do if you think your wife is a bitch. How do you think they invitation would look if you do?
I am not saying to avoid reality. If you are 400 lbs overweight, magical thinking isn’t going to make you all of the sudden a Men’s Health cover model. BUT, choosing a mindset that you are valuable and choosing a mindset to develop self respect WILL help you focus on doing the work, losing the weight, and getting healthy. And to me, that is magical. The mind is the most powerful tool you have.