Day 13 – the ‘danger of magical thinking during a run’ day

Stats at the bottom, such as they are.

Magical thinking – many of us are guilty of it. In one of those serendipities that can seem miraculous, I was writing about the process of magical thinking in alcoholics for a client today and then found myself indulging in the same process myself. That, in itself, is a bit of magical thinking.

Magical thinking is when we mentally connect two (often closely occurring) events as though one caused the other, without a logical or empirical causal link. For example, if you walked under a ladder and then your granny died, you might associate the ‘bad luck’ of ladders with death. Alcoholics often ‘reward’ themselves with drinks for something they’ve done that was difficult, because their magical thinking suggests that drinks that are ‘earned’ don’t count.

So, I have some magical thinking habits, one of which is that when things are going really well for me, I can ward off the bad luck that must inevitably be heading my way, by ‘investing’ in some ‘bad luck’ through choice.

So today, when life feels pretty good, my excellent agent has said nice things to me, my also excellent editor has said good things about my soon-to-be-revealed book cover, my very cool publicity person has come up with a potentially great opportunity to talk about the book, and my lovely friend has had good news about her severely ill father, I look at the weather, which is rainy, foggy and windy (a combination that should surely defy meteorological likelihood) and with some satisfaction, put off my run until it is also dark, on the basis that running through dark, foggy, windy, rain is likely to earn my whatever the opposite is of the good events that have happened recently, so nothing unexpectedly bad will happen because I’ve planned the bad into my schedule. Yeah, like that’s going to work!

• Distance – 1.53k
• Time – unknown
• Weather – atrocious
• Magical thinking – indulged.

Witchdoctor photo courtesy of Bogdan Migulsky


  1. Highway Kind
    13th January 2011

    Doing penance for good luck is sound rather than magical thinking. We all know that life is not meant to be easy, so when things are going too well we have to remind ourselves that there will always be potholes

  2. pinkyandnobrain
    15th January 2011

    Dear Kay,

    I can so well understand both the lure of magical thinking and the desire to have some control over bad luck. You put it so well, both exposing the flaw in the logic as well as showing just how human it is to fall in to such thinking patterns. You should practice enjoying the good stuff and letting the bad stuff take care of itself. However, it is much easier for me to give such advice than to follow it myself …


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