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David McRaney

You Are Not So Smart

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    Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed.
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    The trick is to accept that the now-you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future-you—a person who
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    Thinking about thinking—this is the key.
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    If you see lots of shark attacks in the news, you think, “Gosh, sharks are out of control.” What you should think is “Gosh, the news loves to cover shark attacks.”
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    When it comes to explaining why you like the things you like, you are not so smart, and the very act of having to explain yourself can change your attitudes.
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    According to Wilson, when you are faced with a decision in which you are forced to think about your rationale, you start to turn the volume in your emotional brain down and the volume in your logical brain up
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    you quickly redact your past so you can feel the comfort of always being right.
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    It all starts with your brain’s desire to fill in the gaps.
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    The emotional brain, Lehrer argues, is older and thus more evolved than the rational brain. It is better suited for complex decisions and automatic processing of very complex operations like somersaults and break dancing, singing on key and shuffling cards.
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    This is why the invention of written language was such an important step in your history—it allowed you to take notes and preserve data outside the limited capacity of the rational mind.
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    The group primed by the aroma in the clean-smelling room cleaned up after themselves three times more often.
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    For instance, if you hear Albert Einstein refused to eat scrambled eggs, you might assume scrambled eggs are probably bad for you. This is called the argument from authority. You assume if someone is super-smart, then all of that person’s decisions must be good ones, but maybe Einstein just had peculiar taste.
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    There’s even a phrase for the phenomenon: “going postal.” This is part of the collective unconscious at this point. Movies, books, television shows, and even pop music continue to refer to postal workers going on rampages, as recently as 2010. The concept of going postal will remain part of English slang for decades.
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    THE MISCONCEPTION: Other people’s behavior is the reflection of their personality.

    THE TRUTH: Other people’s behavior is more the result of the situation than their disposition.
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    So seek to control the small things, the things that matter, and let them pile up into a heap of happiness. In the bigger picture, control is an illusion anyway.
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    This is why you are far more likely to participate in games of chance when there are some customizable features. Allowing you to choose your own lottery numbers or pick the numbers to bet on in roulette affects how you see the results. You assume the cold hand of fate becomes a tad less potent if you have some say in how you tempt it.
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    This is the gambler’s fallacy, assuming the odds change based on the history of the outcomes so far
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    If you were to flip a coin and have it come up heads five times in a row, you would have a strong feeling deep in your gut the next toss would land on tails because it needed to. You think it must balance out.

    This is called the gambler’s fallacy, or the Monte Carlo fallacy after a casino roulette game there in 1913 where black came up twenty-six times in a row
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    To be happy now and content later, you can’t be focused only on reaching goals, because once you reach them, the experience ends. To truly be happy, you must satisfy both of your selves. Go get the ice cream, but do so in a meaningful way that creates a long-term memory. Grind away to have money for later, but do so in a way that generates happiness as you work.
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    The Moment

    THE MISCONCEPTION: You are one person, and your happiness is based on being content with your life.

    THE TRUTH: You are multiple selves, and happiness is based on satisfying all of them.
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