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"Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult ... and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could."

A trait of pretty much all the people I know who society would view as "very successful" is they seem to do this automatically all the time. Their confidence gets them into higher profile situations where there is opportunity to succeed and once there their mindset maximizes their chances of doing so.

A trait of the few people I know who I'd describe as "exceptionally bright" is they don't do this because they are too aware of their limitations.

People who fit into both groups I think are rare ... and quite something.

'Pretend you're someone that can X' works for all kinds of things, not just challenging tasks.

People on the subway grating on my nerves? I pretend I'm someone patient. Need to bang out a particularly annoying task? I pretend I'm someone who's really interested in that task. Wife irritated by my sloth about the house? I pretend I'm someone who cleans up promptly. Feeling particularly miserable today? I pretend I'm someone who's naturally happy.

It doesn't work forever, and it doesn't work perfectly, but it works better than any other mental trick I've discovered.


It might be a trick but if done over and over, can't it have a bad effect mentally over time? I can imagine it can suppress your real emotions which can lead to a mental breakdown when you can't suppress them any longer.


In my experience the pretending changes, not masks, your real emotions. You start by smiling because you're pretending to be a happy person, and you end up genuinely happier.


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