The Act As If philosophy is surprisingly effective. It does not always require a particular emotion or attitude to find the way to do something, or begin to do something. Often it is enough to simply “act as if.”
When I was a kid, I remember being threatened if I was bored. I don’t mean this literally, as if my parents threatened my wellbeing if I couldn’t find a way to entertain myself, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been very possessive about my space and time. My time is my time, and I do what I want with it. If i share it, so be it, but if I want it for me, well that’s just how it is. Whenever I would tell my mom I was bored, she would tell me, “well if you’re bored, why don’t you do some chores, or clean up, or straighten your room, or go play with that one kid (that I didn’t really like). So I got good at making up things to do.
I also developed a habit of never letting myself “be bored.” I had a repertoire of things I could throw out when my theoretical boredom was inquired upon. I had elaborate scripts in my head for my action figures to play out. I had games I wanted to play outside, stories I wanted to write, projects I was working on, and plenty of fuel to throw in the engine.
Act As If says that, even when you don’t feel a certain way, you can still act. Even if you don’t feel ambitious, you can still do. I mean, how many people really want to go to work every day? How many customer service reps really feel sorry about the problem the customer is having? But you act as if.
Science has shown that the act of smiling, even fake smiling, actually influences emotional state. You can make yourself feel better by pretending you feel better. When I was a kid and I couldn’t sleep, I would sometimes pretend I was asleep. By doing the things I figured I did when I was asleep, I pretty effectively put myself to sleep.
Act As If is directly related to the thing people talk about when they say “just start.” If you don’t know what to write, how to start a paper, how to begin a relationship… just start. It’s not always momentum that’s the hard part, it’s gaining some movement. We are pretty creative creatures, and being able to just do something is often enough to inspire continuation.
This isn’t faking. Well, it is faking. It’s faking yourself though. It’s not posing. It’s saying that sometimes, even if we don’t want to or don’t feel ready, we must begin something. Perfection doesn’t happen, so there’s no use waiting around for the perfect moment, the perfect time. Eventually we must begin to act the way we know we should act, even if we aren’t convinced we’re ready yet.
Act as if you have already achieved your goal and it is yours. – Dr. Robert Anthony