The problem with happy endings
How your love of happy endings jeopardises your long-term decision making.
If right now you received the wonderful news that you had just won the lottery - you would probably consider 2020 to be the best year of your life.
Even though the entire world has universally labelled 2020 as the worst possible idea of a year - your perception of it would be remarkably different.
That's because we all love a happy ending; generally our brains are programmed to to judge the overall experience of an entire event, on just one standout moment.
So we retrospectively evaluate an experience through a very narrow window of perspective.
New research however indicates that this is actually a bit of a problem, because this bias actually jeopardises our ability to make good long-term decisions, which offer a far better long-term result, but without the short-term hit of dopamine.
'Our ability to evaluate an experience retrospectively is important because it allows us to summarize its total value, and this summary value can then later be used as a guide in deciding whether the experience merits repeating, or whether instead it should rather be avoided.'
'Also known as “banker’s fallacy”—the tendency to focus on short-term growth at the expense of long-term value - when your brain has an unwarranted preference for happy endings and you assign a disproportionate weight to a final experience versus the full trajectory, your decision-making could be biased. It’s important to make sure decisions consider the overall big picture of a series of events, not just how situations turn out in the end.'
If we just choose options which offer us the best chance of a happy ending (or moments of pleasure in the short-term) we may well be not choosing options which actually deliver much better value over time.
Which is why people struggle to save money in a conservative, long-term investment - choosing rather to put all their cash on black, hoping to win big in one go.
As I always remind my clients when working with them on long-term futures thinking and projects; there is certainly no silver bullet that will offer you a quick solution to all of your perceived challenges.
All worthwhile journeys have good moments and bad moments, but overall the best journeys will always offer you growth and wisdom and leave you in a better place to make better decisions in the future.