October 1, 2020

Act As If: A lesson from Conan O'Brien

I remember Conan O’Brien saying once that the key to his burgeoning comedy career was that he would “Act As If…”

As if what?

As if wherever he was, in a comedy show, on an improv stage, or just in room of suited execs, he was completely accepted. As if he could be completely himself,  in all its zany glory, and that it would pay off.

What he’s telling himself is a form of delusion of course. Many a crazed assassin, dictator, or mad person throughout history has “acted as if” and done a lot of damage through it.

But crucially, it is this delusion that has led to a number of brilliant accomplishments, and to the now well-accepted belief that it is only by a certain number of screw-ups that we can learn how to surmount the previously thought unsurmountable.

Indeed, a common trait among depressed people is that they are more realistic about their surroundings.

Perhaps more of us could use a tad more delusion in our lives, and act as if the world were a kinder and more accepting place, if only for the 10 minutes we need it to be.

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