The Optimum Moustache Theory and the Ionisation of Behaviour

I want to keep this simple…. because it is.

There is no such thing as a recession. One may recede although it is more usual for a tide to recede. People recede from economic activity (trading things with one another) because other people recede from economic activity and there is a basic phenomenon in psychology called social proof. In the absence of any evidence people look to what other people are doing. If I recede, others may follow. The more prominent I am the more people follow my recesssion.

So for a while we had bankers receding all over the place. Now some people (mostly journalists and eco-no-mists) are telling us that there is an eco-gnomic recession so some people are receding away from trading with one another. They still have the same or in fact greater number of things to trade, because human beings have a knack of creating things to trade. Some of them are real and some are imaginary, but it doesn’t really matter. To trade is to be human.

I have a theory about all this. It is, in a sense, the antithesis of the Optimum Moustache Theory. There are a few versions of the Optimum Moustache Theory partly because it was born out of drunken conversations in pubs in the Woolwich area in the late 1970’/early 1980’s. These were turbulent times. And for young men such as we were the economic turbulence was compounded by a  fear that there were not enough moustaches to go around.

The theory emerged that there were only so many moustaches in the world and that when one person grew a new moustache someone else was obliged to shave theirs off in order to maintain moustache equilibrium. The evidence was flimsy. Someone turned up to the pub with a new moustache and coincidentally someone else turned up without their old moustache. Tongues wagged. Theories were postulated. Beer was drunk in large quantities and so a new idea was born. This is how most ideas are born. In altered states. Often in pubs. But not necessarily so. (See me for details of how to change your state without going to a pub).

The problem with the Optimum Moustache Theory is that it is what we like to call an impoverishment theory. Anything which tends to focus on something being in short supply is based on an attitude of impoverishment. It is also out of step with reality.

The Up-tern, Down-tern Moustache Conundrum

For example, the idea that there is such a thing as a Down-Tern is an impoverishment attitude. Clearly terns do turn down in the sense that they execute dramatic dives in pursuit of fish. But in order to do so, they must first execute up-turns. The Up-Tern is not a separate species of tern. It is the same tern preparing for action in a contrary direction. In the Down-Tern phase of the fishing trip, the sudden descent into the depths is not some kind of suicidal ritual, but a tern actively seeking to replenish itself. (By the way, I would just like to commend the sense of humour of the anarchist protesting on Wall Street last week who was carrying a banner with the legend, ‘Jump You B*!*!*ds, Jump!’ I thought this was turn-up for the boot.

In short, no Down-Tern, no Up-Tern.

The fact is that there are more and more moustaches being grown everyday. The population of the planet is still growing. At the time of Christ there were 100 million people on the planet. Now there are 7 billion. That’s a lot of potential moustaches.

There is another factor, however. You can now buy 7 moustaches, that’s a different one for every day of the week for £4.50. Clearly someone is exploiting the impoverishment-based Optimum Moustache Theory and cashing in on the consequently rampant paranoia. Obviously someone is growing all these moustaches and then trading them (although frankly, if it takes on average 2 weeks to grow a decent moustache – if you are a real man of course – 64 pence per moustache is not a great re-tern on your time and effort).

The real point though is that the more human beings there are, the more there is a tendency to want to trade. Human beings are really trading entities. We do not survive well on our own. We get lonely, grow very long moustaches and start keeping our toe nail clippings in envelopes. Howard Hughes had a very big moustache but he was not really happy except when he was creating new things to trade.

The Ionisation of Behaviour

What is happening right now is explained by another theoretical concept; the ionisation of behaviour. Many of the things we do as human beings are abstracted and turned into – well, abstract things – things which do not exist. And many of these abstractions end in ‘…ion’.

You can have an abstraction which does not end in ‘…ion’ but there are very few real things which end in ‘…ion’, apart from lions. Lions are real. This is an important point to bear in mind. Bears are real too, as you will know if you played my new – ‘Ball, Bear, Chicken or Moustache?’

Here is a list of things which do not exist and which end in ‘…ion’

  • Recession (people running away from things which do not exist)
  • Depression (people digging holes and climbing into them)
  • Succession (people digging for personal advancement at the expense of the current incumbents)
  •  Abstraction (people taking the p**s)
  • Incision (people cutting things up to avoid being cut up themselves)
  • Precision (people behaving preciously about things which do or do not matter)
  • Decision (people avoiding trouble by disowning their own choices)
  • Conclusion (people acting like things come to an end when really they go on forever)
  • Exclusion (people shutting out other people who could actually help them)
  • Communication (people doing their best to ignore each other)
  • Institution (people locking away other people whom they feel embarrassed about)
  • Restitution (people putting back things they stole)
  • Constitution (people making stuff up and then fighting over it)
  • Ablution (people washing away past misdemeanours and hoping no-one will notice)
  • Absolution (people washing away your past for you, because their’s is even dodgier)

I could go on forever (and I am working on this as a serious objective) but you get the idea. All of these words used to be things which people were actually doing. As abstract nouns they tell us nothing except that people have adopted certain attitudes and beliefs and then acted on these in ill defined ways which they do not want to take responsibility for.

If you say ‘we are in a recession’, this means you have decided to join in the headlong rush away from trading. Are you mad? Do you want to end up with a big moustache, keeping toe nail clippings in an envelope?

Carry on trading!

Now some people have complained that they cannot trade because other people have stopped buying things from them, but this rarely if ever true. People may have stopped buying what you have been producing for the last 63 quarters of continuous ego-boomic growth, but they still want to trade stuff. They just want to trade different stuff. So if you want to go on selling and trading, start producing stuff that people want now. Two Hundred and Fifty years ago, there was a big market in big wigs. The Hanoverian period was awash with powdered wigs (and Whigs as it happens).

Now bookshops are selling moustaches. You can trade anything as long as you keep putting new stuff out there to test what people want next. Producing stuff that people no longer want is not evidence of a recession, it is evidence of stupidity! To say there is a recession is to state a belief that it is no longer possible to trade with other people and then to behave as if this was true. Be careful. What you believe has a habit of coming true.

The people who bought houses using credit (something else which does not really exist so cannot actually run out) from Fannie May and Freddie Mac, are just as capable now of paying off the loans as they were when they took them out. The banks pretending that they really expected them to pay off the loans in a timescale which was unrealistic within the current system does not make it realistic within the current system.

The only reason for the collapse of the banking system has been that bankers decided they wanted all of their money back now instead of continuing to nurture their delicate and sometimes wayward assets.

The point is this.  Whenever you hear or see something ending in ‘…ion’, or spot something for which there is no actual physical reality, you know you are dealing with a belief.

And guess what?

  • You can change beliefs.
  • It is as simple as changing pants.

In fact one of the things I have discovered of late is that the best way to sell on the telephone is to wear my wife’s pants on my head. Somehow, my attitude changes and in just the right way to introduce an element of fun and excitement into my voice, in a way which seems to captivate the person at the other end of the telephone.

So the solution to the economic crisis (don’t trust anything ending in ‘…is’ either because it generally isn’t, e.g. ‘analysis’, ‘crisis’, ‘neurosis’, anyone called Dennis, etc) is to wear your partner’s pants on your head.

Trading successfully is an attitude based on the positive belief that you will find a way of succeeding if you keep experimenting.

Most people think that they should adopt beliefs because they are true and shun other beliefs because they are false. This doesn’t work.

If, however, you adopt beliefs which are useful and shun beliefs that are self-limiting, you will be amazed how much more you can achieve, and this will go on working until you decide to stop.

  • § There is no recession.
  • § There is not going to be a depression.
  • § My wife has a limitless supply of pants.
  • § I am a creative genius.
  • § I am happy now.
  • § I can make money.

To quote Richard Bandler (NLP co-creator)

‘We influence the universe itself through our very understanding of it because the laws of the universe change as soon as you add into the equation that consciousness itself is a force, a force that can influence the physical world. This is why all the toasters are appearing on the planet Earthbecause consciousness is able to change matter. Human beings are able to influence the world around them. And as our ideas change the very universe changes’.

R. Bandler


  • Make a list of things which you are unhealthily attached to, which do not really exist.
  • Turn them back into things which you do, attitudes which you have been adopting, and specific beliefs you have been holding onto. (beating yourself up, telling yourself that business is bad – that kind of thing)
  • Decide which of these beliefs is self-limiting.
  • Do something different (e.g. wear someone else’s pants on your head).
  • Adopt new attitudes and beliefs. (Tell yourself you are lovely because Harvey says so).
  • Be happy.
  • Trade more.

About Harvey Taylor

Hi. I'm Harvey Taylor. I moved to Shrewsbury in September 2021. In between supporting adults with learning difficulties, and staring into space, I also create. You can view some of my recent forays into acrylics, collage and video alongside older poetry, ancient blog posts and general madness. I also look after an elephant called Uncle Oojah who celebrated his 100th anniversary on 18th Feb 2019. Check him out
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