October 5, 2021

This Cognitive Bias Might Be Sabotaging Your Life Without You Noticing

Things go wrong all the time for others.

Accidents, diseases, calamities. These happen day in, day out — from all around the world. Yet we are so shocked when it happens to us.

We shake our fists to the heavens and complain, “Why me?!”

The bias to blame

Have you heard of the Optimism Bias aka the Illusion of Invulnerability?

We believe that we will live longer than the average, that our children will be smarter than the average, and that we will be more successful in life than the average.
But by definition, we can’t all be above average.
The optimism bias is essentially a mistaken belief that our chances of experiencing negative events are lower and our chances of experiencing positive events are higher than those of our peers.
— Kendra Cherry

The dangerous thing about this bias is it impairs our decision-making skills. If we don’t guard ourselves against it, we may:

  • Skip our annual physical exams
  • Not care about wearing seatbelt
  • Splurge and hold off on building our emergency funds
  • Ignore healthy habits

All because we think we’re invincible and bad things don’t happen to us!

To combat this bias, this quote from Seneca might prove to be helpful and grounding:

“Fortune falls heavily on those for whom she’s unexpected. The one always on the lookout easily endures.”

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