Mindfulness And Loss: The Past Is Just the Past

The Huffington Post:

Imagine this scenario. You’ve purchased tickets for an outdoor music festival, featuring several of your favorite bands. The tickets are pricey — $400 — but it will be an experience to remember. Then, on the morning of the festival, a major storm moves into the region, and a hard, cold rain begins to fall. It shows no sign of stopping, and you are faced with a dilemma. You could go anyway — put on your slicker and grit your teeth and suffer through a miserable day. Or you could bag it, and eat the cost.

Some say the hell with it, my bad luck, but many go, and spend a dismal day being cold and resentful — just so they don’t squander the $400. But that’s irrational. Think about it. The $400 is gone, and it’s not coming back, one way or the other. Sitting in the foul weather is just going to compound their misfortune.

So how do we recognize and trump this powerful cognitive bias? A team of psychological scientists has been exploring the possibility that a form of meditation — known as mindfulness meditation — might help people overcome this particular kind of irrational thinking. Led by Andrew Hafenbrack of INSEAD in Singapore, the researchers reasoned that the sunk-cost bias comes from overvaluing the past and future–at the expense of the present–and from aversion to any kind of loss. Mindfulness meditation, by keeping us focused on the present moment and diminishing negative feelings, counters this distorted thinking.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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