Lately I’ve been talking a lot about the human brain and how it–well, how it screws with us a little. And today, I’m going to along that same vein with another gem from the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.
The book is mostly about how choice can overwhelm people (read my take on that here). But there was much more to it than that. One of the ideas he presents is this:
What we remember about our experiences is almost entirely dependent on just two aspects of the experience:
1. How it felt at the peak, and
2. How it felt at the end.
Schwartz gives lots of the research on this, of course. For instance, he cites a study in which people who held their hands in extremely cold water reported the experience to be more unpleasant if it ended at the same cold temperature it had been at all along, but less unpleasant if it did not end there, but continued for another several minutes at a slightly warmer temperature.
If you think about it, this has huge consequences for one’s personal fulfillment. When you go on vacation, for instance, do you seek out peak experiences and a great, happy last day? Or are you content to sit on the beach and read most of the time, then spend the last day in a harried rush to get home?
On my last vacation, I did the former. My husband and I braved the wild streets of Mexico on a sometimes-uncomfortable moped in order to seek out the best beaches in which to swim and snorkel.
And I’m not sure if this is true, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget some of those moments.
I saw a sea turtle, after all.
And a snake.
Those are the stories I told my friends about my trip, and though it wasn’t a perfect outing in every way–heck, it’s a great memory.
“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather
“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley
“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah
“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee
“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia
“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous
Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.
More Stuff to Read:
Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.
There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Only one blog talks about whether or not they work. With ratings. (Take that, God.)
- My Favorite Spiritual Practices for Overcoming Depression
- Depression Success Stories and Spiritual Practice Success Stories
I Suspect Inner Peace Is Just a Myth. Here Are Interviews With People Who Disagree.
Some people are such show-offs. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth listening to.
There’s a Book for That, Too
It’s a great time to get suddenly awesome. So many teachers. So many books.
- Best Spiritual-But-Not-Religious Books for Overcoming Depression
- Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday