“Is it real?” vs. “Is it useful?”
I talk to Meamare, my car. I tell her good morning each time I start her up to go to work, and I thank her each time I park. When the weather is bad, I encourage her to stay steady and sure, and I lavish praise on her when she, inevitably, gets me home safely. Together, she and I make driving safe and efficient and enjoyable.
Does this mean I believe my car is a person, deserving of the same courtesies and emotional support I would give a friend?
Or does this mean I am playing into my psychology in order to cultivate a sense of gratitude for my primary means of transportation and a sense of calmness in times of dangerous road conditions?
Here’s a better question: does it matter?
What matters is whether or not a particular belief is useful. A belief’s objective reality can be difficult or outright impossible to prove – if you can prove that my car does or does not have a spirit, go right ahead! – and so its reality ceases to be important. What remains is usefulness.
Does this belief enhance or enrich my life? Does it aid my functionality and my happiness? Does it avoid any negative impact on my mind and body?
If it is both helpful and harmless, then it is useful, and it may stay.
Is my car a person, or does acting as though she is simply serve my psyche?
It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I am a happier, more mindful driver because I talk to her. And that’s best for everyone.