For years, George Loewenstein’s exercise routine involved running up a steep hill. As he made it to the top of the peak, all he could think about was the pain. But once he reached the top, it was as if he was struck with amnesia. That pain, he says, “was all forgotten within maybe 10, 20 seconds.”
A few days later, George would lace up his sneakers and scale the hill again, and his mind followed the same pattern. George realized that each of his emotional states were little worlds unto themselves — the runner in pain had little understanding of the carefree person going downhill, and vice versa. It occurred to George, who’s a psychologist and economist at Carnegie Mellon University, that this gap in perception applies to more than running.
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