Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Human Mind maintains our parity

I have always been interested in how our mind deals with our experiences. Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness talks about how our mind compensates when we have bad experiences, and helps us cope. (Gladwell has written extensively on this in an article that features Gilbert). And, similarly, when we have good experiences, our mind has that awful tendency to drag us back down again.

Which is why things that are supposed to make us happy often don't, and vice versa.

Here's something interesting I heard on a podcast from Scientific American's 60-second psych. Researchers working with split brain patients stimulated the right side of their brain to laugh. Now, remember, nothing was actually going on. They asked the person why they laughed, and the left side of the brain--figuring there had to be a reason--said it was because the researcher was funny. The brain responded similarly to anger.

Our brain is always compensating, creating reason, even when it has to completely make things up. It seems to me that the challenge is to let it have free rein when we are feeling bad, and then self-talk ourselves around the issue when we are feeling good. But not TOO much.

An even keel is probably good. Even if you have to make it up.

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