5 Reasons Magical Thinking Might be Getting in the Way of Your Success

The fact that we are here at all is magical – the whole universe is one huge mystery. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to supernatural claims. I remind myself that many of the things we take for grated today would once have been viewed as supernatural – could you image describing Wi-Fi to somebody from the nineteenth century?

A Little Luck

I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the universe does sometimes lend us some supernatural assistance. There have been many occasions when it felt like I benefited from this type of help, but I certainly can’t prove this theory. The one thing I do know for sure is that even if such help is available, it is not something I can control.

If I become dependent on this type of assistance, I fall into the trap of magical thinking. Here are 7 reasons for why this would be a mistake:

1. Magical Thinking Means Looking for Something for Nothing

If there is something you really want in life, you are usually going to able to get it if we are willing to work hard enough. The road to achieving this goal might be long and difficult, but this journey can also be as rewarding as the final result.

The problem with magical thinking is that it is an attempt to bypass the usual effort required to achieve a goal. It’s an attempt to cheat the system. It means I’m wasting mental energy that would be better used for doing the necessary work to achieve my goal.

2. Magical Thinking Turns Me Into a Victim

Magical thinking can easily deteriorate into learned helplessness. It means I’m expecting some external force to come and fix me because I’m not willing to sort out the problem myself. I’ve never made any progress in life by thinking of myself as a victim – all my growth has occurred when I realised my power and took action.

3. Magical Thinking Has a Poor Track Record

If magical thinking was a reliable solution, why would so many people still rely on effort and hard work to achieve their goals. I don’t believe in a huge conspiracy that allows a select few to achieve success and riches through some secret magic.

I’ve met plenty of people who failed in their attempts to boss the universe around using affirmations and visualizations – including myself. Choosing magical thinking as the tool for reaching a goal means relying on something that has a very poor track record.

4. Magical Thinking Doesn’t Lead to Happiness

I’ve had moments where I experienced a real sense of bliss while contemplating the wonder of existence. Appreciating the magic can certainly make me happy but seeking supernatural assistance not so much. This is because the real happiness comes from the satisfaction of getting the job done – the feeling of having earned my reward.

If a million dollars magically appeared in my life, I’d probably be happy for a few months, but it would not give me anywhere near the same level of satisfaction as earning that money. I suspect this is why so many lottery jackpot winners end up viewing this money as a curse.

5. Magical Thinking Can Disconnect Me From Reality

This life is so wonderful, but it is so easy to take it for granted. Magical thinking can make it harder for me to appreciate what is there right in front of me. The universe really might be one huge delusion, but if I want to get the most out of the experience, I need to take it on face value. If some higher power has gone to the trouble to create such a convincing delusion, it would seem ungrateful to not make the most out of it.

How to Avoid Falling into the Trap of Magical Thinking

  • Believe in magic but don’t rely on magical thinking if you want to achieve something.
  • If you are religious, it may be helpful to remember the Arab proverb – trust in God but still tie your camel.
  • Stop looking for short-cuts to achieving your goals.
  • Understand that all the hard work and effort is going to make achieving the goal all the more satisfying.
  • Don’t worry about the possibility of life being one big delusion – it’s a very clever delusion and it would be ungrateful to not participate in it fully.
  • Be particularly aware of falling into magical thinking when you are going through tough times – this is when it is most important for you to take solid action.
  • 2 Comments

    1. Mmmm … what a great topic. This would actually be a fantastic interview topic I bet, to get a few different perspectives. On the one hand, I agree with you that ungrounded magical thinking doesn’t work very well. I’ve known lots of people with great ideas (in theory) who never turn them into reality. On the other hand, magical thinking has worked for me many, many times so long as it’s grounded. Meaning, I need to dig into my belief system and figure out where I am blocking my miracles from happening and then clear that out so the Divine can assist me without me getting in the way … I often see people being way too “realistic” and working way too hard on conventional routes that yield little reward. So … perhaps a third path ? Thanks for a thought -provoking post 🙂

      • Hi Erikia, thanks a million for your comment.

        What I’m really trying to say here is that it may be unhelpful to be too reliant on magical thinking – especially if it prevents me from taking action to fix my problems. If my choice is between posiitive thinking to find new clients or hustling to get new clients, I have to choose the later – not only is this likley to be far more effective, but it is also more rewarding. I do like what you say about finding a middle way – I can see that working for lots of people, but I like to go to extremes 🙂

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