Have you ever wondered why we know we should do something but we end up doing the exact opposite? Me to. In fact I’m pretty sure the Bible says something about that in Romans 7:15: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
Author David DiSalvo explores this amazing paradox in his book “What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite,” by Prometheus Books, 2011.
It seems our brains live on a preferred diet of stability, certainty and consistency, while perceiving unpredictability, uncertainty and instability as threats to its survival. However, for us to thrive, grow and push the boundaries of our knowledge and our capabilities we must enter worlds of unpredictability, uncertainty and instability. This is the amazing gap between knowing and applying.
The shelves of Barnes & Noble are filled with dozens of self-help books that all promise us the answers to achieving fulfillment in our lives. Yet, the gap between knowing this information and using this information often remains as wide as the Grand Canyon. We read one book, then buy another without applying the lessons of the first? Why? DiSalvo says that we want answers and we listen to people who claim to have answers. We want problems solved and settled so we can feel good about its resolution.
Our brains tend towards a default position of placing great value on avoiding loss, lessening risk and averting harm. Thankfully our brains focussed on these factors when we were chasing wildebeests across the Serengeti with a club. However it may be that very instinct that holds us back in today’s world.
As the Brit’s say on the tube, its time to Mind the Gap.