Three reasons why brain acts weird sometimes
Did you know an average brain has the power to generate a light bulb? And that the brain's capacity is considered virtually unlimited?
As interesting as this information can be, this knowledge won't help fuel the motivation to finish an assignment, memorise a huge essay word to word, or help find the happiness one seeks in life. Do you ever wonder why?
Mind does not think in terms of absolutes:
Our minds judge relative to comparison. Here is a story about a group of psychologists trying to find a breaking discovery about the concept of gratitude. Why do people say the glass is half full while the other group say it's half empty?
The only way to find out was to sneak into the Beijing National Aquatics Centre and disguise themselves as interviewers for the Olympic winners about their reactions to winning an international tournament.
The Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, must have felt fantastic. As he dominated the swimming pool, the psychologist believed the other two winners must have a unique reaction based on Michael's accomplishment.
What was Laszlo Cseh, the Olympic silver medalist's reaction? He wasn't satisfied with his performance. If you googled the picture of all the three men holding the medal for the cameraman (who could be a psychologist in disguise), his grief was covered with a tight fake smile.
But the reaction of the bronze medalist, Ryan Lochte, implied something like it was enough for him to be there, standing with the winners.
Thus, the psychologist made a groundbreaking discovery without being caught or sued in court; people care a lot about where they stand relative to others.
Minds are built to get used to stuff:
How come the first time a person buys a new phone, he treats it with care and caution, just like his first-born child, and then a month later, he treats it like his fifth-born child?
In psychology, they call this the Hedonic Adaption, which in plain English means getting used to stuff. Imagine being stuck at home for two years because of some unknown virus from China showing up on TV, and the first step outside the house would feel foreign.
Once a person does the same thing repeatedly, the awesome stuff does not remain as awesome as it once was.
Once upon a time, a bunch of German psychologists tracked employees across Germany for 29 years. As their salary went up, the psychologists recorded one of the most groundbreaking discoveries - the salary increase didn't make much difference to the employee's happiness. With each dollar increase, the employees would become greedy for a dollar and a quarter more due to their dissatisfaction.
In the book, Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert quotes, "Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but the wonderfulness wanes with repetition."
We don't realise that our minds are built to get used to:
On the result day, how often does one predict their happiness based on a grade they get on a piece of paper?
Hedonic adaptation would say, not even close to what one can expect. That's because the experience one gets from getting a good or a bad grade is a yearly repetition; therefore, humans do not realise they are having one of Hedonic adaptation's effects.
The insidious part isn't that people will seek things that would make them happy (which would not be the case), but bad things may happen over the things they desire.
For example, people live in a society where smoking will bring happiness, which, in common sense, would not, once that person realises they won't be able to breathe for much longer. During that result day, a bunch of psychologists dressed up as teachers and asked students to rate their happiness based on their grades on a 9-point scale. They made a fine discovery when the majority rated their reaction to their result as a dead 6.
The next time a friend feels dissatisfied with their results or comes across an anxious person waiting for their results, use the magic words you have learned today - It is all in your head.