Should We Be Superstitious?

As everyone knows this Tuesday was Halloween, a famous day for celebrating: scary superstitions and bags full of sweets. Halloween is one of the biggest holidays in the United States and its story can be traced back 2,000 years to an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, where the dead were believe to return as ghosts on the 1st night of February. The towns people believed that on this night they had to leave food and wine on their doorstep in order to scare off unwanted spirits, and dress in costumes when heading outside to blend in with the ghosts[1]. As long as humans have been on this earth there has been a desire to use superstitious behaviors, but what does this tell us about ourselves and what can this allow us to accomplish? Halloween separates itself from our other holidays, because it feeds off of fear rather than a feeling of joy. During this time of year, it is a common tradition for children to attend haunted corn mazes and watch scary movies. It is also common for superstitions to gain relevance on Halloween day as we often remind one another on Halloween, “to watch out for a black cat” or to “avoid walking under ladders,” as if these scary superstitions are more of a threat.

But what are superstitions and why do they work? A superstition is defined as a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief,”[2] but in all actuality it is a lot more. In our lifetimes we have all questioned one of our own strange beliefs, or have done something like: wear lucky socks to support our favorite sports team, or hang a horseshoe above our doorway to promote good luck. It seems so simple, superstitions are fake and have never “truly” helped, yet why do we still choose to partake in these certain actions? It’s because superstitions are and always have been a natural remedy for comfort in stressful situations[3].

Carrying out a positively perceived behavior can help us accomplish more than we had thought ourselves to be capable of...
For example: I know that wearing a lucky bracelet will not help my basketball abilities, yet I still choose wear it every time I play because I hold a superstition that this bracelet can allow me to accomplish more. Self made superstitions can denote an image of success and can eliminate this image of failure, sometimes giving you boosted moral. We need to realize that superstitions are a belief that generates different emotions to routines or actions we engage in, and sometimes these can be bad, but sometimes they can also become healthy for us.

Are superstitions irrational? While most of the time superstitions don’t seem to make much sense, they do stimulate different emotions and can promote alterative actions. I know that breaking a mirror wouldn’t actually give me 7 years of bad luck, but for some reason if I did accidently break a mirror, I would feel slightly unsettled. There are many friends of mine who are very successful and have certain superstitions and whether these superstitions work for them or not, the concept of them are very interesting. I have always found that holding a positive superstition about a carried out ritual can help build healthy confidence in an individual’s ability to achieve victory or success. It can be as simple as always eating bagel before a marathon or occasionally wearing your lucky pair of socks to work. It is often true that the belief we hold in these rituals, are what make us so strong in becoming successful.

In many ways believing in a superstition that supports a ritual, can be attributed to carrying an optimistic mindset for the future, and reflects this ability to accomplish more and achieve more. Whether you have a positive superstition about a prerace ritual or your go-to-meal you choose to preform your best, these beliefs are our own confidence boosters that take you the extra step.

So, if you have a superstition that you carry out, do not feel judged, because it can give you confidence you need to purse something more. Superstitions, in general, reflects a supernatural presence that can push you toward a positive mindset and what you should realize is that becoming successful relies upon a sense of self belief in times of doubt.

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