The Quirky Science Behind Good vs. Bad in Life

Hey there, all you joy riders on the rollercoaster of life!

Let’s talk about why you often find it easier to fret over frowns than celebrating your fabulous wins. Grab your mask and fins as we dive into the murky waters of human psychology where our minds love to hook negativity more than positivity.

Imagine this: You’re strolling the boards, down the shore, when a seagull decides your shoulder is the perfect landing pad for its daily musings.

“Ewww!” disgusting but what aim!

That memory? It’s going to stick around like gum on your sandals.

Now, let’s consider the good times – a surprise promotion, the first heartbeat of love, or a walk off Schwarbomb (it’s a Phillies thing). These experiences might be amazing in the moment, but why don’t they get sticky access to our memory vaults like the Gull-bomb?

Last month we introduced you to your Funk Brain, better known as a negative brain bias. Back in the caveman days, this Funk Brain was an MVP, helping our ancestors stay alive by spotting lurking dangers.

Today your brain is still hard wired for threats. So, when your boss gives you a thumbs-up, and you accidentally spill your coffee with a happy dance, guess which memory your brain tags as “super important”?

Yep, the coffee dance gets its moment in the spotlight.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we have trouble valuing the good stuff…

Hedonic Adaptation:

Ever heard of the phrase “rising to the occasion”? That’s our brain’s special way of saying, “Cool, you’re happy now, but don’t get cocky.”

Meet the Hedonic Treadmill where your brand-new Tesla will last long enough to disappoint you.

We adapt to positive circumstances surprisingly quickly. The result? Your heart might skip a beat when you ride in your Tesla for the first time, but before you know it, it’s just another vehicle in the sea of traffic.

Emotional Intensity:

There is emotional intensity with the tough stuff. When you experience a negative event, your heart races, your palms get clammy, and your emotions get amped up.

Good times? Not always so intense. But your brain loves intensity! It’s like the juicier the drama, the bigger the impact on your memory. So, it’s not just you – we’re all wired to remember the juicy stuff.

Social comparison:

Oh boy, do we excel at that! Whether it’s comparing our homes, cars, or Instagram followers, we’ve got a knack for making ourselves feel like the grass is greener on everyone else’s side. So, when you’re savoring that famous Philly cheesesteak, your brain is saying “Hey, look over there! You should have ordered the roast pork with broccoli rabe!”

So, what are supposed to do!

Well, let’s talk strategies…

We’ve got coping mechanisms up the wazoo for dealing with life’s curveballs. But when it comes to celebrating, we’re like the Phanatic without a crowd – a little lost. But fear not, intrepid joy-seeker!

The next time you’re worried about not fully relishing the good times, remember: our brains are plastic and malleable. Waiting for you to Davinci a happiness masterpiece. But this masterpiece must be made for your brain. Instead of chisel and mallet you have gratitude and mindfulness. When you are experiencing the good stuff, stop to breathe it in!

Take a mental snap shot to help your brain appreciate the beauty of that moment. Being present during the best of times teaches your mind to value them. Gratitude will steer you away from comparing yours to others. Taking time each day to be thankful for what you have now and not what you are hoping to have later.

Finally, be kind! Being kind takes the focus off of yourself and places it squarely on others who may need it more than you. Everyday acts of kindness initiate a cycle of gratitude, in which kindness gives rise to gratitude, and in turn, gratitude fosters more kindness.

Or, just forget Birdbombs and replace them with the sweet memories of Schwarbombs! It’s a Philly thing.