A behavioral economics study showed that when monkeys were given an apple they were perfectly content, but when given two and then having one taken away they freaked out.
Humans aren’t much different in our aversion to loss, and relative inability to appreciate what we have. Evolved beings tend to do the latter.
Most of us feel accomplished when we cross items off our to-do lists. Creating and following a “not to-do” list allows us more time and mental capacity for what we want, and enjoy that time more.
Committing to discontinue doing things that don’t serve you is as useful as starting new habits that do.
A guy I know lost a friend who may have lived had he NOT worn a seat belt in a side-collision car accident. Although data shows that 99% of the time seat belts save lives, he refuses to wear a seat belt because he’s zoomed in on his friend’s freak accident.
On an emotional level, if we think big picture and view our current hardships as small dips on the ups-and-downs graph of life, we may avoid the dramatic view that life is terrible now and from here on out.
Zooming out is an enormously useful skill that’s not just for CEOs. It leads to practices that could save our emotional, or actual lives.
A huge controlled study revealed that people who “felt they were in control of their lives” were almost 70% more likely to be happier and have less stress. This sounds overwhelming, but realize you only have to FEEL rather than actually be in control of every area of your life.
So adopt a couple habits that actually give you more control of the small stuff (make your bed, wash the dishes, clean your car, get your finances in order), and “feel it”.
One more point scored for faking it until you make it.
This question has helped me focus on the best, most authentic way to manage conflict, my mistakes, other people’s mistakes, negotiating, and generally navigating any difficult situation where the default is to be defensive, and seek validation for being “right”.