• Laurence Shao

If you read my article, you will get $100K by the Grace of God.

Magical thinking refers to the belief that one can connect unrelated events through exploitation of willpower: “If a tossed coin lands on heads, it will be my lucky day!” This mindset comes to everyone, but we rarely talk about it. It is our secretive motivation, our mental sanctuary, our weapon to challenge conventions. It empowers us to live with positivity and optimism, to defy mere boring reality, to laugh at suffocating unfairness. Some say it is a self-deception; others find spiritual significance within the individualized religions the thinking begets.

An example of magical thinking…

“Isn’t magical thinking just a form of prayer? Isn’t magical thinking something that manifests the positive? What’s wrong with that?” Dale Hinckley asked.

Jonathan Zhou observed, “While magical thinking does not work and is only supported by cognitive biases, it can keep people optimistic about their hopelessly bleak future. For example, pretending that they will not eventually perish meaninglessly along with the planet they’re on can give people a sense of meaning in life, which has led to society developing to the modern day. Therefore, while magical thinking is like our existence—pointless, dysfunctional, and utterly worthless—it has played an irreplaceable role in the development of humanity.”

On the other hand, Zhou says, “Magical thinking is an addiction — just a way to avoid facing your inevitable failure by blaming it on external forces. For example, if you are going to take a test, and the magic 8-ball tells you that you will fail, you will blame your failure on the ball. On the other hand, if the 8-ball tells you that you will do well, you will simply believe that the ball malfunctioned when you failed when, in fact, your failure was solely due to your laziness. Magical thinking is not your god. It is a demon from the depths of the abyss.”

It seems like many seniors who are currently trapped in the tedious college application process choose to be a realist. “Magical thinking is useless,” senior Ryan Park commented. “Just because you want something doesn’t mean it will actually happen. We can only trust what we have done before and what is within the realms of possibility. Pure willpower would not amount to anything, I think for many of us seniors, who are dealing with the impending college apps, we have a tendency to resort to magical thinking. I am also guilty of resorting to magical thinking at times—who wouldn’t want to be admitted into their dream school? However, I urge others to look at yourself objectively, to better set expectations and prepare for what is most likely to happen. Even if it hurts, I think magical thinking only diverts us from living in the present—it is my humble belief that we move on from the failures of our past and control whatever we can.”

Senior Linda Zhao also defies magical thinking for its groundless denial of the actual factors that contribute to secular accomplishment.“Magical thinking is the subconscious entrance into a different realm between dream and reality. Perhaps the miracles in this world can be explained by a successful breakthrough into the said realm. Personally, I don't think magical thinking leads to anything productive. Fate obstructs our magical thinking. I know that if I want to get closer to my goals and dreams, I better stay in this real world.”

Unfounded if-then statements, tarot readings, magic 8-balls might be a good source of reassurance. You know they do not make logical senses, but a shallow understanding of synchronicity tempts you to do so. I view this mindset in a compromised way. If you are in extreme agony caused by uncertainty of the future, using magical thinking might assist you as a mental pain killer; however, you should be reminded that it does not avoid what has to come. If the outcome disappoints you, the only therapy is to keep your head held high and retain your sense of humor.

Magic thinking is a temporary protection. Step out when it is necessary.