Think Like a Magician to Survive and Thrive
Wishing on a star, carrying a good luck charm, performing a simple ritual, believing in karma, and finding meaning in events that others may view as meaningless are all examples of what psychologists label as “magical thinking.” While people who rely strongly on logic may view magical thinking as delusional, studies show that a lack of magical thinking can actually be more of a mental health concern.
Magical Thinking Helps Us Survive
Researchers have found that our brains are wired to find meaning in the world. Even without realizing it, a region in the left hemisphere of the brain activates to form hypotheses—possible reasons—as soon as we see or hear something incomprehensible. There is even a brain chemical assigned to the task of tagging experiences as meaningful, a neurotransmitter known as dopamine.
People who suffer from depression have less dopamine than those who are not depressed. Depressed people struggle to find any meaning in life. Similarly, researchers have also noted that people who do not employ any magical thinking suffer from “depressive realism” and a condition known as “anhedonia,” which means the inability to experience pleasure.
Magical thinking often kicks in when we are feeling helpless about a situation. By performing a superstitious ritual, making a wish, or otherwise assigning belief in a power outside of ourselves and the rational world, we get a feeling that maybe the outcome of the situation isn’t entirely out of our control. We then gain more confidence and suffer less anxiety—and that’s a good thing.
When Magical Thinking Is Not Healthy
While depressed people suffer from a lack of dopamine and magical thinking, people who are schizophrenic, on the other hand, have brains flooded with too much dopamine. They suffer from extreme delusion, finding bizarre meaning in situations that are actually mundane and operating on magical thinking mode all the time.
If magical thinking interferes with healthy functioning in the real world, then it’s time to see a therapist.
When Magical Thinking Is Encouraged
For most of us, magical thinking is an occasional mental mechanism that we willingly engage in and can easily switch out of when more logical behavior is needed. Magical thinking is even encouraged at times when a creative edge is beneficial. One neuropsychologist, Dr. Peter Brugger, of University Hospital Zurich, states that magical thinking is essential for creativity, because it allows us to see patterns and make associations that more rational thinkers don’t normally perceive.
So if you are a writer, artist, or anyone who needs to think quickly and creatively—such as the parent of a curious child—rev up your magical thinking motor and advance full speed ahead into the realm of multiple possibilities.
“To manifest things in your life meditate on the feeling of already having it.” – Rivers ext. 5273
“You manifest the thoughts and feelings that you put your attention on the most. When self doubt creeps in ask yourself if it’s possible that what your doubting may actually be possible; and if there is the slightest chance that it’s possible change your doubt to feelings of possibility.” – Rivers ext. 5273
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