How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Here is a little prayer that has done the rounds for many years that has strayed far beyond religious circles.
Lord grant me...
But why is this? Why do some ideas spread and thrive when others die in early youth? It does seem to be something to do with how you feel when you hear it. When I first heard the above prayer, I felt a physical tingle as my mind acknowledge the truism. 'Yes, that's really true' I told myself as I attempted to commit it to memory so I could tell other people.
And so ideas and the things that tickle us spread, from prayers to products. A classic analogy is the virus, which infects us and leaps from person to person. This principle was described by Richard Dawkins, in his classic book 'The Selfish Gene', where he called the thought virus a 'meme'. And so the science of memetics was born, although the notion had previously been explored under the heading 'The Diffusion of Innovations', an area much investigated by anthropologists. Marketers have also picked up on both of these in the diffusion lifecycle and 'viral marketing'.
Ideas, like viruses will morph and change to fit the situation. I found a neat parody of the Serenity prayer at a librarian's site:
Lord grant me...
Aha! Another truism. And so some people who read this will spread the mutated virus further.
I saw this once and had the same sense of rightness about the saying.
This post reminds me of the articles regarding propaganda I read on this
website. The said propaganda appealed to people's interests and values- things
they had developed early in on life, subconsciously based on what appealed to
them and what they cared about. It seems like this prayer was intended to give
people the serenity to accept things they actually could not change, like their
physical appearance, ethnicity, or other such things. However, I think today,
people pray for the serenity to accept things they are too lazy or too apathetic
to change, like how people see them or the state of the world. I think people
feel more driven to change the things that are parallel with their interests,
and I think these interests are largely shaped by society, i.e. propaganda or
advertisements, as Alex points out.
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And the big