What makes us see problems where there are no problems at all

18 Jun 2024

Have you ever felt kind of meh for no reason? Well, you're not alone! It turns out that feeling dissatisfied is pretty normal for humans. Back in the day, being unhappy helped our ancestors survive and develop cool stuff like smartphones and cars.

But now, our constant need for more and better things can make us feel like nothing is ever good enough. We get so used to being comfy that we start seeing problems where there aren't any. This is called "prevalence-induced concept change."

To break free from this cycle, we must learn to take risks and see the world as it is. By understanding how our brains trick us into thinking everything's a problem, we can use it to our advantage and live our best lives.

Developing skills to address threats

Have you ever heard of the term "prevalence-induced concept change"? It's also called "problem creep." This idea was first talked about in Michael Easter's book, The Comfort Crisis, but it was thought up by a Harvard psychologist named David Levari.

Levari found that people are always changing their expectations. Sometimes, we don't see things the way they are, which can make us think there are problems when there aren't any.

In one of his studies, Levari asked people to pick out "threatening" faces from a group of 800 different faces. Some of the faces were scary, while others were harmless. But after the 200th face, he started showing fewer scary faces without telling the participants.

Instead of noticing there were fewer scary faces, the people started thinking that normal faces were threatening. This shows that we can be taught to expect danger even when it's not there. What we expect can change how we see the world.

Even though Levari's study was done in a lab, we can still learn from it. It shows that our experiences can shape how we see things. If you always think people are mean and sneaky, you might treat them that way. And if you watch a lot of news about war and violence, you might start negatively seeing the world.

Challenges as Inspiration

When we hear a lot of bad news, we start to feel like things are always going wrong. But what if we changed our focus to stories of hope and progress? What if we used our dissatisfaction as motivation to make the world a better place?

People are good at overcoming tough situations when they believe in themselves. Dr. Marcus Elliott, a doctor who knows a lot about sports performance, says that when we challenge ourselves, we unlock our full potential and grow as individuals. Different cultures and religions have traditions where people face difficult challenges to become stronger and more capable. By pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we can become better versions of ourselves.

It's important to remember that feeling dissatisfied can be a good thing. It can push us to make positive changes in our lives and help others too. By focusing on our drive for improvement and putting our problems in perspective, we can live fulfilling lives that we're proud of.

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