I was fifteen when my dad introduced me to Scott Adams. I read his book, ‘The Dilbert Future’ over three vastly enjoyable summer days. As much as I laughed over the entire book, it was the last chapter that fascinated me. Here was this funny, too-good-to-be-true concept, called ‘Affirmations’ – pick something you really really want, write it down a bunch of times every day, and watch it come true!
It is a testament not to my erstwhile nerdiness but to my erstwhile laziness, that I began with an affirmation to the effect that I would score 96% in my 10th Standard board exams.
I scored an 86%.
Here is where I should have given up on Scott Adams’ fantastic theory. Instead, I attributed the 86% to a slight functional glitch in the powers-that-almost-made-this-work, and became a believer.
Over the next few years, I continued to use affirmations to what seemed like varying degrees of success and failure, with an unfading enthusiasm. When I look back at those years now, I think that those affirmations did have an impact on my life – I’d become a much more optimistic person! ( And no, I wasn’t a natural optimist – my favorite mental state as a teenager was melancholy, with a generous sprinkling of angst and boredom). Something in the act of writing those absurd sentences, line after line after line, made me perk up and believe in good things. It’s strange, but there it is!
Afterwards, Life happened..a lot of it. And I suppose I became a little more of a realist along the way and began to regard affirmations as hocus-pocus. However, I still smile about the fact that the best self-help tip I received came from an author who mostly wrote about workplace humor.
Some years down the line, in my mid-twenties, came another big Scott Adams phase. I discovered his site, and found to my glee that there were more than twenty years’ worth of Dilbert comic strips I hadn’t read yet! I proceeded to correct this gross mistake over the next year or so, and in doing so, stumbled upon his new book – ‘How to fail at almost everything and still win big’.
Had I failed at stuff? Yes!! Did I want to win? Hell, yeah! And that is how Scott Adams, that zany, witty man, helped me yet again. This time, having read and re-read the book thrice, I have narrowed down his advice to one all-important point – exercise regularly! Somehow, reading this book brought home to me the necessity of disciplined exercise more than any other article or statistic or doctor has in the past.
Now and then, I imagine meeting my personal heroes in an airport terminal, and striking up a conversation with them. Even in these fantasies, their awesomeness leaves me tongue-tied..very unlike my usual glib self. If I were to ever meet Scott Adams, I would probably desist from talking to him at all, for fear of saying something cliché and ordinary.
So, Scott Adams, if you ever read this ( and if one were to go by your parallel universe hypothesis in ‘Dilbert Future’ , you probably are reading this, in some universe or the other) – this post is my way of telling you – I owe you a lot! Thank you!