I have a good friend who, when asked how he’s doing often says, I’m living the dream. He usually says it with a twinkle in his eye and during the course of our time together, he’ll tell me what’s really going on, be it the dream or not. They call that Fake it ’til you make it in my men’s meetings. Another friend told me he’d had a Terrific Tuesday and when I gave him a questioning look, he said, Don’t you believe in Acting As If? It’s that old notion that if you want your life to be a certain way, act as if it’s already that way until it happens. Do I believe it? That depends.
Why? Well for one, there are people like Kelli Cooper of Huffpost, The Blog who says, Acting as if you already had what you wanted is not about playing pretend or totally ignoring your current reality. It is about realizing your point of power is how you are focusing in the present moment, and deliberately directing your attention towards what you want, knowing your reality will eventually follow suit. Let me offer a suggestion: In your quest for ways to improve your life, if someone guarantees results, refers to the Law of Attraction or claims to be a Student of the Universe (both of which Ms. Cooper does), ignore them. There is absolutely no scientific basis for a law that requires the universe to bring us what we act as if we have and … sorry, Kelli … the students of the Universe are physicists and cosmologists not Huffpost bloggers, New Thought gurus and self-help charlatans.
On the other hand (isn’t there always another hand in such things?), there is a scientific basis for the notion that visualization and acting as if can be an important component in goal setting. According to Personal Goal Setting on mindtools.com, Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. If the acting as if is to work, it has to motivate you to take actions (thinking … achieving … efforts). Does it work? According to Wikipedia, Studies by Edwin A. Locke and his colleagues have shown that more specific and ambitious goals lead to more performance improvement than easy or general goals. As long as the person accepts the goal, has the ability to attain it, and does not have conflicting goals, there is a positive linear relationship between goal difficulty and task performance. Note! Improved performance not guaranteed results. Such is science when it involves human behavior.
But wait … there’s more. An article, Self Help: forget positive thinking, try positive action, in The Guardian reports on several studies that show that positive actions (there’s that word again) can actually lead person to change in the same positive direction. We’ve all heard that if we put on a happy face, we’ll actually feel happier. But how about this … clenching your muscles in situations where we need more will power actually gives it to us. And that striking a confident pose actually makes us more confident. So, acting as if can actually change us, allowing us to change our lives.
So, if you are acting As If hoping for results from a Santa Claus Universe, I wish you luck. But if what you want to do is improve your attitude, help yourself visualize what you want to be and motivate yourself into actions that will take you there, go for it. I can tell you from experience, that works and there is science to back me up.