Excerpts from a book by Scotts Adams -- the creator of Dilbert
If it's possible to control your environment through your thoughts or steer your perceptions (or soul if you prefer) through other universes, I'll be the secret to doing that is a process called "affirmations". I first heard of this technique from a friend who had read a book on the topic. I don't recall the name of the book, so I apologize to the author for not mentioning it. My information came to me secondhand. I only mention it here because it formed my personal experience. The process as it was described to me involved visualizing what you want and writing it down fifteen times in a row, once a day, until you obtain the thing you visualized. The suggested form would be something like this: "I, Bob January, will win a Pulitzer Prize."
The thing that caught my attention is that the process doesn't require any faith or positive thinking to work. Even more interesting was the suggestion that this technique would influence your environment directly and not just make you more focused on your goal. It was alleged that you would experience what seemed to be amazing coincidences when using the technique. These coincidences would be things seemingly beyond your control and totally independent of your efforts (at least from a visual view of reality). The book also suggested picking a goal that you knew wouldn't happen by your extra effort alone. The author said you would never know if the affirmations worked unless you chose a highly unlikely goal. So I tried affirmations. I figured it didn't cost anything so 1 had nothing to lose. My friend said it worked for her, coincidences and all, so I had a testimonial that sounded credible. It wasn't proof, but it was better than no testimonial at all. I picked what I thought was a very unlikely goal and went at it. Within a week, coincidences started to happen to me, too. Amazing coincidences. Strings of them. I won't mention the specific goal I was working on, as it was a private matter, but within a few months the goal was accomplished exactly as I had written it. I wasn't convinced the affirmations helped. Coincidences do happen on their own. And after all, maybe I had made some of my own luck. I considered the test inconclusive. So I picked another goal-- to get rich in the stock market. I wrote my affirmation down every day and waited for an inspiration. One day it happened. At about 4:00 A.M., my eyes snapped open, I awoke from a sound sleep, sat bolt upright in bed, and discovered the words "buy Chrysler" repeating in my head. (This kind of thing happens to me occasionally‹the part about waking suddenly with a strange thought.) At the time, this seemed like a very dumb thing to have in my head. It was during Chrysler’s most bleak period.
The company had only survived because of government loans. The stock was in a deep hole. (I forget the exact year, but if you've learned anything from tins book, it's that I don't do research to get facts straight.) Thinking that "buy Chrysler" was my inspiration, unlikely as it seemed, I quickly called a discount brokerage service to set up an account and buy some Chrysler stock. (Obviously, I didn't need a full-service broker, because I was getting all the advice I needed from the voices in my head.) It took about two weeks to get the brokerage account established because of mail delays. During those two weeks, Chrysler stock climbed substantially. I figured I missed the window for buying it and cursed myself to not having a brokerage account set up in advance. Then a funny thing happened. Chrysler's stock kept growing. The company paid off its government loans earlier than anyone expected and went on a rampage. That year, Chrysler was arguably the best stock you could have owned.
I used the affirmations again many times, each time with unlikely success. So much so that by 19S8, when I decided I wanted to become a famous syndicated cartoonist, it actually felt like a modest goal. The odds of becoming a successful syndicated cartoonist are about 10,000 to 1. I knew the odds, but I figured they didn't apply to me. When I submitted my samples by mail to the major cartoon syndicates, I had a feeling of being exactly where I needed to be and doing exactly what I needed to do. I never once doubted it would work out the way it has. Reporters often ask me it I am amazed at the success of the Dilbert comic strip. I definitely would be amazed, if not for my bizarre experiences with affirmations. As it was, I expected it. I wasn't satisfied that Dilbert allowed me to make a comfortable living. I turned my affirmations toward making it the most successful comic on the planet. 1 figured that was another 10,000 to 1 shot. But as before, I figured the odds didn't apply to me. It's hard to define what is "most successful" with comics. Everyone has his or her favorite. You can't really rank art or humor objectively. I took a pragmatic approach and decided the best measure was the number of Dilbert books sold. My reasoning was that people have to make a genuine choice with their own money when they buy a book, whereas you have no real influence over what runs in the newspaper. And as far as the "quality" of the strip, I decided the market could sort that out in book sales. If people liked the quality, they'd buy the book. In June of 1996, The Dilbert Principle hit the number-one spot on the hardcover nonfiction list of the New York Times. It stayed in the top three all summer. In November, it was coined by Dogbert's Top Secret Management HandBook, giving me the number-one and number-two positions simultaneously for one week. For that brief period of time, Dilbert was The "most successful" comic on the planet, according to the limited definition I had set for it. I don't know if there is one universe or many. If there are many I don't know for certain that you can choose your path. And if you can choose your path, I don't know that affirmations are necessarily the way to do it...