What do you do when you have to face a difficult situation? Well, for me whenever I have to face a difficult situation, I prepare myself by looking into the mirror and smile several times. Smile is an evolutionary contagious behavior. The reason I like to spend maybe hours before the mirror smiling is because it relaxes my mind and diverts it from thinking all the bizarre things that it can (and will) conjure if I didn’t.
There is a term that psychologists call “impact bias“. This is our tendency to “overestimate the hedonic impact of future events”. We draw a mental picture of a future event and that picture is usually either dramatically happy or utterly unpleasant. Then when the event actually takes place we normally fail in such occasions because we are blinded by our prejudice. Now why does this happen? Let me mention a little about our brain.
The Brain of Homo sapiens
Our brain is 3 times bigger than that of the Homo habilis, the earliest of our ancestors who lived from approximately 2.33 to 1.44 million years ago and also the first to be found associated with stone tools. Our brain has not only grown bigger in the course of time but we have also developed what scientists call the pre-frontal cortex found in the frontal lobes of the brain. It is also known as the “experience simulator” which means we sort of get a taste of the event before it actually happens.
By default we are programmed to have a biased point of view of our future events. Let’s say you have to go take a class for graduate students on a subject you are not really that good at. You cannot get a good night’s sleep because at the back of your mind you still feel edgy and nervous. This is because your experience simulator has already come into play. You experience yourself standing before an unusually big room full of students. The eager faces of the students seated before you make you more nervous and before you can utter a single word, you run out of the class. Although you may not flee from the class when you actually face them, you will definitely not do well in the lecture. Instead if you had prepared your mind for this, you would have been in a much better position and would had the opportunity to save your face. So the next time you have to take a class or ask your boss for a raise, just remember to ask your brain to think positive and keep calm. Ask your brain to conjure good thoughts which in turn will reflect in your actions.
If you feel good from the inside, half the battle is won.