How does Magical Thinking Mislead Us?

Magical thinking is the tendency to believe that certain actions or events are associated even when they are not logically justified. For instance, if you take a sick day and tell your boss that a relative is sick, then find yourself worrying that they WILL BE sick.

There is not a lot of logic to it but the feeling is sometimes there. This can be problematic and here are a few of the other reasons why.

1. Plenty of Good Things have Happened on Friday, the 13th

firday 13

People think that Friday the 13th is unlucky. It's a common belief. Not everyone has a bad day then, however. Alfred Hitchcock was born on a Friday the 13th. In 1944, Athens was liberated on Friday, October the 13th. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson signed executive order #1246, ending gender discrimination in U.S. government hiring practices. These are just a few examples. Thinking that a particular day is bad luck can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be careful with magical thinking.

2. You Start to Think You don't Make Your Own Luck

you thinks you are unlucky

A phrase commonly attributed to Thomas Jefferson goes 'I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more luck I have!'. This is an excellent phrase and one to take to heart. If you let yourself believe that one bad thing happening in the morning or during the week means a day or more of bad luck is coming, then you might be setting yourself up for some bad times.

Instead, it is best to focus on the positive aspects of the day. Enjoy the weather or the singing of the birds. Get yourself a bit of coffee or a piece of chocolate to sweeten things a little. While a 'lucky ritual' in the morning can gear you towards a more positive day, there are also more mundane things that can help. Like simply allowing yourself to enjoy it and believing you will have a great day because you are going to MAKE it great with attitude and hard work.

3. Irrational Fear can Lead You to Failure 

irrational logic leads to failure

There was a show in the 1970's called 'Kung Fu' starring David Carradine, which told the story of a boy who was trained in martial arts and philosophy in a Buddhist temple. In the episode called 'Superstition', he is told by his Master that as part of his training, he will be required to walk across a pit of acid on a narrow wooden beam and that he should spend the rest of the week practicing this on a similar beam placed on the floor in the next room.

The boy, Caine, can see skeletons at the bottom of the bubbling pool and is terrified, but he practices walking across the floor-beam all week and becomes quite good at it. When the time comes for him to walk across the acid pit, however, he immediately becomes nervous and falls inside. The Master then laughs at him, telling him that the skeletons at the bottom of the pit are made of paper, the acid is only water, and that he should remember how well his fear has served him on this day. It is a good lesson. Don't let superstition make you fail at something that you can easily do.

These are just a few examples of how magical thinking can mislead us. Sometimes it can be a positive force but like with anything, moderation is a good idea if you find that you can't do without magical thinking. Use your best judgment in this and just remember to work hard and make your own luck whenever you can. 

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