Normally I’m not a big fan of quotes, but this one is an exception. It’s one of those concepts that, as soon as I heard it, is was so obviously true I couldn’t believe I’d never thought that way before. Here’s the quote, evidently from the founder of Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller:
“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
Don’t Think Happy, Act Happy
Here’s a simple example to prove that acting towards a new way of thinking is better than thinking towards a new way of acting:
Imagine your friend’s in a bad mood. To turn them around, do you tell them to think happy thoughts? Probably not. As famously demonstrated in studies, you’re better off getting them to force themselves to smile. Even getting them to put a pencil in their mouth to form a smile shape can do the trick. Acting is more effective than thinking.
Evidently the mind follows the body, and not vice versa.
I find the idea of acting your way into a new way of thinking to have lots of potential applications for self improvement. But what about using the concept for other purposes? Other purposes like making money! Is it possible to compel others act their way into a new way of thinking?
Act Their Way to a New Way of Thinking
As an owner of a bug food business, I spend considerable effort trying to compel people into a new way of thinking about the idea of eating insects.
If you’re a typical Western consumer, you probably consider insects to be literally and figuratively tough to swallow. But rationally it makes a lot of sense. Insects are nutritious, sustainable, and tasty. It’s also common elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, no matter how compelling my arguments are or how entertaining others’s documentaries may be, people aren’t changing. That’s because people don’t “think their way to a new way of acting.”
I need to get them acting towards the new way of thinking that eating insects is normal. That means getting them to try it. Even better is getting them to admit it tastes is good. And best is encouraging them to share with their friends and recommend they try too. Sure eating insects may start as a novelty, but they’re acting their way to a new way of thinking.
A New Motto
Acting your way to a new way of thinking can be paraphrased with a much better known saying:
“Fake it ’till you make it.”
And how about getting others to act their way to a new way of thinking? Can we coin a similarly catchy phrase. Maybe,
“Keep them trying until they start buying,”
“Get them acting ’till they start asking.”
… Or maybe not.
While the wording is still a work in progress, the concept is not. Whether it be your own way of thinking or someone else’s, the best way to change it is to get them acting as is they believed it. Invariably, the mind will eventually follow the body’s lead.