Halloween All Year

The last weekend of October is one of my favorite times of year, and I got to spend it in Vegas where the costumes are especially extravagant.

But why is Halloween so much fun?

Power of Masks

Since prehistory, mankind has made use of masks in one form or another. It’s an external method of accessing a different internal state where the wearer gets to try on different personalities & behaviors.

The character of the mask suggests its own character that is then interpreted and expressed by the wearer. It’s pure make-believe at its finest.

But what if the effects aren’t imaginary?

Power of Costume

A couple years ago a pair of researchers (Hajo Adam & Adam Galinsky) looked into what kind of effects costumes have on a person’s thought processes. The results were surprising.

In the experiment, they had half the participants wear a white lab coat to “protect their clothes from dust” and the other half wore no lab coat.

All were tested for attention, ability to focus, performance of timed tasks, etc.

Those who were wearing the lab coat performed better than those who didn’t, even though the lab coat wasn’t characterized that way.

It suggests that the participants were bringing their own beliefs and associations about the piece of clothing, and it had a subconscious (but measurable) effect on their mental faculties.

This effect is called “enclothed cognition.” It’s the effect clothes and costumes have on our psychology based on wearing it, and also what you believe about those who wear those kinds of clothes.

Doctors are smart, and they wear white coats. I’m wearing a white coat, so I’m smart.

And then you are smarter.

Clothes Make The Man

You’re familiar with the saying, but may not fully recognize how deeply the effects can reach.

This is why Halloween is so much fun for people. Wearing a costume or mask allows you to truly feel like you’re someone else. You get to access personality traits you don’t usually identify with, and nobody judges you because they’re all doing exactly the same thing.

It’s like a social purge of your current operating personality.

If you think about it, you should realize that what you think is your “true” identify is still just a creation that’s designed to get the reactions you want from other people.

If you’re not happy with who you “really are” maybe there’s an opportunity for you to try on a new costume for awhile. Before you know it, you’ll be that new person.

Then it’s Halloween all year round!

Patience is a Virtue

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”  Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In the time before bills, I loved getting mail.

All through high school I had penpals from nearby schools, and most of them were people I met at debate tournaments.

All of them were girls.

Seeing an envelope with my name on it in a girl’s handwriting was one of my favorite things in the world. I’d want to open it right now.

But I wouldn’t. I’d try an experiment instead. I’d put the envelope on my desk and leave it until I no longer felt like I had to open it. Sometimes that would take a couple minutes, or a couple days.

The thing is, I couldn’t trick myself out of it, or lie my way out of waiting.

The feeling of “have to” would have to be truly out of my system before proceeding.

Flash forward to the time where I can instantly know any fact, have any food delivered, or flat abs in 2 weeks, I feel like instant gratification comes at a price; our well being.

Science backs me up on this.

In the late 60’s & early 70’s a scientist Walter Mischel came up with an ingenious experiment to test children’s capacity for delayed gratification called “The Marshmallow Test.”

He would give a marshmallow to a kid and tell them they could eat it now & that’s it, or they could wait 10 minutes and if it still hasn’t been eaten, they will get a second marshmallow.

Years later Walter checked in with the (now grown up) kids, and discovered they were more successful in school, got higher test scores, better able to handle stress, etc. Basically any metric we use to measure success, the kids who were able to wait were better at it.

This seems to suggest that cultivating a practice of patience is one of the most essential skills that pays off the most. The clock is ticking, though. The sooner you start practicing, the more time you have for it to pay off.

How’s your patience? What are you doing to cultivate it?

Want to get started? I can help.