Fake it ’till you make it? It’s actually the scientific way!

Fake it ’till you make it? It’s actually the scientific way!

by Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy)

You’ve probably all heard that saying, “fake it “till you make it”.

It’s been used to help people enjoy more happiness, more confidence, more success and more of many other desirable traits or goals.

It’s also been used mostly by those without many or any qualifications…you don’t hear many clinical psychologists or Professors using the phrase!

But I am a clinical psychologist and I am an Adjunct Professor (see here) and I think there’s a very good rationale for pursuing the “fake it ’till you make it” path.

In fact, I believe it’s entirely consistent with a scientific approach and here’s why…

Let’s start at the beginning. People often ask, “How can I fake something I don’t know how to do?” Or how can I simulate something (like happiness) that I don’t understand?

Well my response is…simulate or fake it SO YOU THEN understand! 

This is not dissimilar to the way scientists develop theories or hypotheses in their attempts to understand various phenomena. They don’t fully understand these phenomena at the start, if they did they wouldn’t need to study them; but they proceed nevertheless with a “best guess” (based on available evidence and prior experience) and then continuously adjust this guess, or theory, based on the results of their experiments and based on feedback.

They predict and create models in order to learn, so they can then make better predictions and better models and so on.

We, too, can do the same thing; again, with regards to happiness or success of confidence or…anything!

Make your best guess at what it (e.g. happiness) might look and feel like, using resources and examples such as THIS, and then “fake” it as best you can. Following this, learn from the experience about what works and what doesn’t work, adjust your beliefs (your working model) and then go again. Repeat for…well, forever!

We don’t need to wait until we understand completely before we simulate something (like happiness); we can, instead, simulate in order to understand.

We can fake it (and then learn and adapt) to make it!