You can subscribe to a service and receive calls reminding you that you are awesome (ht MR).

You can probably think of people who would buy this service thinking it will bolster their self-esteem.  You might even imagine that you yourself would get a little boost from having someone call you personally and tell you that you rock.  But you probably think that this is leveraging some kind of behavioral, kludgy, semi-rational wiring in your personality and that you would quickly get de-sensitized to it.

But I disagree.  I think that it would be a valuable motivator even for the most hyper-rational among us. Because it’s not a trick at all but really just a way to preserve mindsets over time.  Suppose I tell you about something great I did.  Then later on, when I am about to take on some challenge, like let’s say I am about to give a big lecture to an intimidating audience, you call me and remind me of the great thing I did.  And you add your own interpretation of why it was great and how it shows that I am awesome.  I don’t need to believe anything about your motivations, your reminder restores my brain to the state it was in when I myself was thinking about how great I am and why.  And if your added color convinces me that you honestly agree with me then all the better.

Simply “writing it down” or memorizing the state of mind is not a perfect substitute.  At a very minimum this is simply based on cost-minimization.  Someone else is doing the remembering for me and that is worth something.  But it’s even more than that.

If you have been following me it will come as no surprise that I have no trouble at all remembering what an stupendous guy I am and all the super-amazing feats of astounding splendifery I have accomplished in my life.  Yet even with that overflowing supply of memories of greatness, I still get nervous in the face of a challenge.  When that happens I have my daughter repeat something she once said to me at a minor moment of greatness: “you’re so smart daddy.”  The memory of that moment is imprinted on the sound of her voice.  That sound hooks into the vivid edges of my direct experience of the event.  Immediately it’s “oh yeah, that’s how it’s done” and my perspective on the situation is totally new.  And yet on the surface all she is doing is duplicating a memory that I had in there already.

Daughters are great, and not just for fueling your ego, but they cost more than $40 a month.  By comparison, Awesomeness Reminders look like a pretty good deal.