zen habits : breathe

Pretend You’re Who You Want to Be

Every Thursday is Happiness Day on Zen Habits.

To be happy, it is important that we become happy with who we are — accept ourselves, recognize our good traits, accept our flaws, and come to see those flaws as actually good and unique parts of us.

But if you’re like me, there’s always something we want to change — and in keeping with the philosophy of this site, for me that’s changing my daily habits to help me reach my goals. The problem is, many people just don’t believe they are the type of person who can achieve that goal — they have a negative self-image, and that negativity will stop them from success every time. Positive thinking is the key to any kind of achievement.

So today’s quick happiness tip is simple: think about the goal you want to achieve, imagine the kind of person who has already achieved that goal or created that habit, and pretend you are that person.

Let’s take a quick example: If I want to start running, to make running a daily habit, I think about runners I know or have read about. I read about their habits, their lifestyle, and imagine what it’s like to be them. Then, I pretend I’m a runner myself. I think about what it’s like to be a runner, how a runner would act, how a runner thinks and feels, what a runner’s habits are.

I take the identity of a runner, and make it my own. Soon, I believe I’m a runner. And here’s the magic: it becomes true! Just by pretending it, and assuming that identity, I become a runner. I think and act like one. And if I’m a runner, what do I do every day? I run.

This magical trick can work for any goal, and for any person. Imagine that you are that person, and you will be.

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