Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event. – Tali Sharot
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to the bad things in life, we never believe that they will happen to us or the people that we love? This is a result of our brains being wired to believe the optimistic parts of life.
We believe that we are better at everything we do than other people, that we will overcome obstacles no matter what, that even though “smoking kills” we won’t be the ones to develop cancer, and much more. We are born to think this way and it’s called the optimism bias. A concept that Tali Sharot explores in her recent TED Talks.
Looking on the bright side is not a bad thing. It helps us take risks we might otherwise not, gives us hope in achieving our goals, helps us believe that we will triumph in the face of adversity, and builds anticipation for something we’re looking forward to. The downside of always believing that we will always succeed is that we are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as not buying health insurance because “we’ll never get sick.”
So what can be done about this? Well, you can’t change the fact that you’ll look at most things you embark on or that happen to you with a positive outlook (and you really don’t want to go the paranoid route). But, in order to factor in reality – and the swift kick in the butt that life likes to give us sometimes – it’s good to know it exists, to stop and think sometimes of the decisions you plan on making and seeing if there might be alternative approaches.