Act ‘as if’, and the reality will catch up with your actions.

Instead of Positive Thinking, try Positive Acting.

Let’s start with a short exercise:

Think for a second, what do happy, organized, productive people DO?
How do they behave?
Now, copy their behavior, and act as if you already felt or thought what you desired to feel.

Behavior creates and changes thoughts, emotions, and feelings – and in the long run, changes the identity, thought patterns, and habits for good.

The As if Principle. From actions to experiences to thoughts

A lot of the self-help literature is based on the premise that in order to change our behavior, we need to change the way we think.
Many people believe that when you want to change your identity and your habits, you need to start with changing your thoughts.
The problem, however, is that our mind is usually very sensitive to what we tell it and what we ‚know.’

We can try and force ourselves to think happy thoughts, but if your body and experience contradict your thoughts, the practice can only backfire, and instead of making you feel better, you will end up feeling worse.

However, it is interesting to see how science shows that our actions influence our thinking.

You can read about many examples of that happening in “The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life” by Richard Wiseman.

What can you do instead of thinking positively?

Change your behavior, and your thoughts will follow.

For years I would wake up in the morning feeling tired, grumpy, with groggy eyes.
I would often get into a warm hoody (on a cold day), grab a cup of coffee, and hold on to it like a lifeboat.

When my partner was home, we would often sit on the opposite sides of the room and compete on who felt more tired and who needed more coffee.

Most days, I was patiently waiting for my body to catch up with what was needed to be done. It usually took a long time, and sometimes it didn’t happen at all.
I just believed I was not a morning person and needed more time to get going.
I was waiting for the energy and motivation to arrive to do things, and I wasted a lot of time waiting.

Then, somehow, things shifted. Gradually, slowly, almost imperceptibly. I started acting as if I had more energy and motivation.

I started changing small things and putting my body into action right from the start: getting dressed, making my bed, cleaning the house a bit, and later I also added some sun exposure (that could also be other bright light ).

Over time, I’d noticed that the more I acted as if I was a morning person (that paired with going to bed earlier and actually getting more sleep), the better I felt in the morning and the more energy I had.

Motivation follows action

  • If you struggle with getting things done, stop waiting for the motivation to arrive and focus on starting the task.
  • You can help yourself by lowering the resistance towards said task by making things as simple as possible to JUST START.
  • The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the easier it is, the more willing you are to do it.

It’s not about forcing yourself to think differently, but about experiencing something in your body first and then, gradually, changing your thoughts.

Our minds will resist thinking differently if there’s nothing in our experience to prove said thinking is correct.

You need first DO something and then focus on how it made you feel so that your mind can recognize the action-feeling loop.

If you pay more attention to the positive feelings while performing a task or right after, you will slowly rewire your brain and act differently.

How we picture the struggle changes our attitude towards a task

Have you ever worried or mentally struggled with getting something done for weeks, but when you finally got round to it, it turned out to be easy and only took minutes? That was the story of my life as a procrastinator.

We often spend more time and energy thinking about how hard something we need to do is (or might be) than accomplishing the task.

We focus on the negative (even if imaginary) aspects of a task, picture the hardship and struggle, thus making the task truly more difficult.

  • Next time you have something to do, just tell yourself it’s not a biggie, and start as if it didn’t require much of you. Act ‘as if’ it’s easy, but make sure to start small.

If you anticipate something to be hard, you make it harder.

When you want to change, don’t start with just telling yourself something will be easy; you start by first making it as easy as possible to align it with your experience.
That means starting small, staying focused, and over time, growing stronger.

You want to convince your mind to think: well, that wasn’t so bad! I think I can do that next time!

Start small and easy, to first get your mind on board, and then gradually increase the difficulty.
Because if you tell yourself something is going to be easy, but in reality, it proves really hard, it will backfire.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

William James


Are you not feeling particularly confident?

Change your body posture, and it will change how you feel, which can change how you act.
It may sound like magic, but it’s science!

Act differently (The ‘As if’ Principle), and you will feel different, and you will think differently.

You’re not fully convinced and would like to see some science behind it? Check out this TED Talk by Amy Cuddy.

  • Not feeling particularly happy? Smile. Watch something fun. Smile more. Laugh.
  • What we pay attention to grows. So focus on what you want to Grow.
  • Do you want to feel more energetic? Just start behaving like you have more energy, and an increase in energy will follow.

Think for a second, what do happy, organized, productive people DO?
How do they behave?
Now, copy their behavior.

Implement the Act ‘as if’ principle, and the reality will catch up with your actions.

Would you like to change for the better, for good? Here are more TIPS

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