Our brains also look for patterns and connections – people who are good at recognizing patterns can be successful in many endeavors – those who cannot, tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over, and wonder why they do that.
Ever hear the term, “everything happens for a reason.” We tend to say this whenever something happens that we cannot readily explain – an accident, a divorce, getting fired. Our brains look for “agents” Agents are something (or someone) that is responsible for something.
We like to identify agents for the same reason we like to identify connections and patterns – because it speaks to our survival. If we know why something happened, perhaps we can learn from it and prevent it from happening again, or prevent it from happening to us. This is probably why we’re always looking for someone to blame whenever there is an accident or crime. We want to be able to identify the cause of a harm or risk, then figure out how to fix it so we can go back to feeling safe and secure.
We also like to think we’re unique and special. Maybe that’s also a survival instinct – to think we’re supernaturally protected from harm.
Next time when someone says, “why me,” try saying, “why not you?” That will throw them for a loop! Again, our evolutionary underpinning here is an attempt to identify what is causing an action that could save our lives (DiSalvo 62). Thousands of years ago decoding the clues quickly and finding the actual cause could be the difference between returning to the family with dinner or ending up being dinner.
Want to survive and thrive? Get good at identifying patterns and connections – both patterns that lead to success and those that lead to failure so you can recognize when you’re on the right path (or quickly get off the wrong path).
Our brains are amazing tools that primarily desire to be happy and protect us. Usually though, our brains try to protect us from imminent threat or injury, or the perception thereof, at the expense of future gain. Since we are intelligent creatures, we can recognize when short term pain, fear and other “bad” emotions must be overcome in order to achieve our long term desires. While this isn’t typically our first instinct we do have the power to think it through and make better decisions.
Next time you find your brain ‘happy.’ Consider the reason. Is it serving you in the long term?