I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine who was explaining a situation that they had found themselves in. They were in a dead-end job that was going nowhere fast and, due to other limitations, they felt stuck and unable to break free of corporate reins.
As we got talking about their situation, I invited them to take part in a virtual reality practice — the practice of writing out how they wanted their life to look like in present time. As they worked through that exercise and completed it, I then invited them to incorporate as many pieces of that virtual reality into their current reality and “act as if.”
In the case of my friend, they felt like they wanted a job where they had a bit more responsibility and flexibility to start new projects and see them through to completion. They wanted to own the process a bit more than they were able to right now. In their virtual reality exercise, they wrote out their imagined present day and they started to get really excited about that possibility. What it would look like to live that life. What it would feel like.
After they shared with me their writing and we chatted a bit more about the “act as if” practice, I asked them a simple question:
“What can you do in your life right now to get closer to your desired reality?“
Many of us have at least one thing that we’d like to change in our life – whether it is our financial situation, our career, our relationship, etc. and we all have the power to change what we don’t like. The beauty of this practice is that you get to incorporate elements of what you want into your present day, which will only act as motivation to bring more of that into your life — whether consciously or subconsciously.
In an article for Huffington Post, Mike Robbins states:
“When we choose to live with a strong faith in things not seen, not proven, and not guaranteed – we tap into the power of the possible and we supersede the literal and predicable.“
He then goes on to pull a quote from Wayne Dwyer’s book, which I feel resonates strongly with this practice:
“Wayne Dyer wrote a great book a number of years ago called You’ll See it When You Believe it. So many of us, myself included, live important aspect of our lives with the silent mantra of “I’ll believe it when I see it” and in doing so we hold ourselves back, limit what’s possible, and negate the power of our mind, imagination, and intention to allow and create things, situations, experiences, and outcomes that are new, unpredictable, and even miraculous.”
The Science Behind It
In an article from Prevention Magazine, science was used to prove this practice:
“In research at Wake Forest University, for example, scientists asked a group of 50 students to act like extroverts for 15 minutes in a group discussion, even if they didn’t feel like it. The more assertive and energetic the students acted, the happier they were.
What’s best about this kind of cognitive behavioral change is that it doesn’t even require much faith, Segerstrom says. “You don’t have to believe an antibiotic is going to work for it to work.” The same is true of reaping the benefits of adopting a positive mindset.”
Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, released a fascinating study called, “Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources.”
In the study, a group of participants were gathered and asked to complete a loving-kindness meditation every day. A practice of positive thinking and intention. The results can be shown in the study excerpt below.
The broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001) states that, over time, recurrent experiences of positive emotions allow people to build consequential personal resources.
The findings are clear cut: The practice of loving-kindness meditation (LKM) led to shifts in people’s daily experiences of a wide range of positive emotions, including love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe. These increases in positive emotions were evident both within the trajectories of change in daily emotions over the span of 9 weeks and within a detailed analysis of a given morning 2 weeks after formal training ended.
These shifts in positive emotions took time to appear and were not large in magnitude, but over the course of 9 weeks, they were linked to increases in a variety of personal resources, including mindful attention, self-acceptance, positive relations with others, and good physical health. Moreover, these gains in personal resources were consequential: They enabled people to become more satisfied with their lives and to experience fewer symptoms of depression. Simply put, by elevating daily experiences of positive emotions, the practice of LKM led to long-term gains that made genuine differences in people’s lives.
Your Thoughts Affect Your Life Experience
Your thoughts and your actions directly affect your life experience. If your brain is constantly hardwired to think negative thoughts, you will draw in more negative experiences. If your brain is set to positive thinking mode, you will draw in more positive experiences. “Acting as if” is just one positive thinking practice that you can use to have the life experience you want (and deserve!) but it’s a powerful one.
You don’t need to wait to have the life you want. You don’t need to wait to experience the feelings you want to experience. Your time is right now. You just need to believe it to be true… right now.