Category Archives: Psychology

The Index Card Trick

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath. I wrote one of the best jokes of my life to accompany this quote, but due to the nature of her death, I can’t risk demonstrating how tone-deaf I am.

I’m infamous for carrying index cards everywhere. To jot down thoughts, draw/doodle, note reminders, pranks, or actual important messages.

I’ve always known that messages on index cards carry weight, but recently I’ve been practicing and refining my delivery. It’s led to some hilarious and amusing results: most people just believe whatever you’re reading from an index card, even if I’m looking at a blank card or one that has nothing to do with whatever I’m saying.

Psychologically, if it appears you’re reading something off an index card, people will be more gullible about its alleged contents. It’s evocative of the Uniform Effect.

You can use this to your advantage, whether it is to make up a fake phone message, statistic, reminder, or important information.

Just telling them somehow lessens the credibility compared to “reading” it from an index card. People don’t just write crazy stuff on index cards, do they?

Love, X

“I’m writing my book in fifth person, so every sentence starts out with: “I heard from this guy who told somebody …” Demetri Martin

Silence Is A Lie

Someone sent this quote to me today, to remind me that one of the best qualities in a person is their willingness to speak their truth and have faith that it will land authentically. Not because it is a universal truth, but because it is your truth. Concealing your innermost self is the surest road to unhappiness. All of us have experienced the growing burden of needing to say what’s on our minds but feel as if we can’t or shouldn’t. If you’re surrounded by loving people, it is very hard to say the wrong thing. Pay attention to your urge to silence what is growing in your mind or things you need to say.

The person read my post about anxiety on my blog and wrote me to say that it wasn’t until that moment that they realized they were fooling themselves into believing they were self-sufficient.

Love, X

Law Of Increments

The Law of Increments is such a revelation. A couple Fridays ago I did a thousand push-ups. I used anxiety as a trigger to do each set. It occurred to me Saturday that I could also try to pace myself, using an incremental response. I got up at 3:30 today. If I stay up 18 hours, I only have to do 55 push-ups an hour to hit a thousand. Since I know I can easily do that, I can trick my mind into doing twice that per hour. 110 an hour seems stupid to me now after 10 weeks of pushups. So I’m using today as a test. I’ve got nine hours of incremental sets of push-ups to reach a thousand. 12:30. And If you’re reading this, keep in mind that craziness is contagious. The takeaway is that we can accomplish a hell of a lot if we don’t let our goal wear us out before we even start. I don’t have to do a thousand push-ups. Just 110 an hour.

Look Up, And To The Left

I have a lot of fun with chalk, odd messages, and tomfoolery.

There are times when I learn unexpected things from doing such frivolity.

This morning, early, I went outside and wrote “Look up, and to the left” in chalk on the dock concrete. In fact, there wasn’t anything noteworthy, neither ‘up’ nor ‘to the left.’ Having said that, there easily might have been. I sometimes go to strange lengths to get an inside joke off the ground. I’ve been known to climb walls, trees, parking garages, and just about anything to pull off something interesting – even if no one ever sees it. I’d estimate a good 75% of them aren’t found for a long time, or at all. A good example? Years ago, I put a laminated note on the underside of a table at Las Margaritas, with my email address on it, indicating I’d pay whoever found it and contacted me $50. I pulled it off myself almost seven years later – though the table had been moved to another spot.

I observed several people approach the chalk, read the message, and then look up. Several of them looked up and to the right. (We all have directionally challenged people in our lives.) A few lingered, their eyes searching the upper part of the dock canopy. A few others read the message and kept walking without looking up. It was entertaining, and I figured many of them hadn’t ever looked up above them in that spot.

It’s those who didn’t look up that give me pause.

Were they in a hurry? Not curious? If I think about those people too long, I draw unfair conclusions. Who wouldn’t want a surprise, even a potentially stupid one, early in the workday? Something new, something interesting.

The other observation, one long known to me, is that most people will read almost anything written in chalk if they come across it. You can use that generalization in marketing, psychology, and tomfoolery.

Anyway, I hope you are the “look up, and to the left” kind of person instead of the “not interested” type.

You never know what might be lurking on the fringes.

A great deal of the world is hidden in plain sight up.

PS I had picked today as a random day to break my single-day pushup record. Once I started, I regretted the decision. After a couple of hours, I decided to double down and beat my record by noon. I crossed the record with time to spare. Each time I surpass my last mark, I seriously wonder if there is an upper limit and if most of my problems and obstacles are about as accurate as the limit I imagine – until I beat it.

Now, I wonder if the fumes from today’s painting are making me see the giraffe outside. This is a weird apartment simplex, after all.

A Subtle Truth, 3

You can’t control your addiction, your weight problem, or drinking? Tell someone. And then tell another person. Chances are you have someone in your life that knows exactly what you need to get through it or over it. Being cautious and secretive only blocks you from the possibility of others helping you. You might not want other people to know your secret. But they’re damn sure going to find out when your life explodes, aren’t they?