DR S CHAKRABORTY
Have you ever wondered why a loss hurts your more and sticks around your head for a longer time than a equivalent or even higher gain? If it is so, then don’t be alarmed as that’s one of the many ways how our mind keeps on playing tricks with us. So instead of just dancing to its tune and doing or feeling emotions which we know is not needed/justified, how about making ourselves aware of its sinister designs?
In a controlled study, 5000 people were made to gamble on money. Initially they were made to win, then loose and finally win again. There blood levels of feel good hormones and stress hormones were measured at each step. Obviously at step 1, the feel good hormones were high, step 2 saw a surge in stress hormone cortisol. And in step3 when the subjects won again but the level of feel good hormones were found to be negligible and on the contrary, stress hormones were still present in them.
This study exemplifies the fact that negatives or bad outcome sticks on our mind more than a positive outcome. We move from gain to loss easily but bouncing back from loss to gain is difficult and time consuming. Somehow our sense of loss sticks for a longer time.
Somehow our mind loves misery and being in that state of feeling miserable and pitiful. Notwithstanding the best of our intentions, its hard to roll back a mind which has gone negative. It will search for more negatives and will try by all means to justify why it has all the reasons to feel down and out. Moreover it loves company. Remember the movie TITANIC. It was one of the greatest hits themed around how a big ship sunk along with more than 2000 passengers dead and only 700 or so survived. Such a disaster but we just loved the movie. We have its ringtone on our mobile to keep us constantly attached to the event. Now in contrast, a movie like SULLY where a pilot successfully landed a bird hit, twin engine failure plane over a river and all the 155 passengers survived. But how many of us have watched it or even knew about it? It was in news for less than a month where as TITANIC has anniversary rituals even a near 100years after the disaster and costly under sea tours at the place where it sunk. We somehow gravitate towards negative outcomes either in our or somebody else life and can’t stop recalling and reinforcing it again and again.
So what to do? Well we all have our own failures and unfavorable outcomes to deal with and we know how our minds are primed to behave. One bad news and in no time our mind develops a momentum of negative emotions by recalling it and sometimes imagining related things happened years ago. A small issue soon snowballs into a big problem. Solution lies in being aware of and anticipating the trick that our mind is going to play when confronted with a negative outcome. Vitarke badhane, pratipaksha bhavanam. It’s a Sanskrit shloka which suggests whenever negative thought comes and obstructs our way, cultivate and reinforce exactly opposite thought pattern. Just count your blessings and flush your mind with all the good things said and done by you. And don’t stop there. REPEAT IT.
DR S CHAKRABORTY