Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before:
“You don’t need to lose any more weight!”
“Isn’t it bad for your knees to run so far?”
“I wouldn’t want to put on too much muscle and look all bulky.”
“Don’t you want any of these donuts?”
“Aren’t you going to have another beer?”
Anyone who ever lost weight, gained muscle, got fit, or improved their diet has faced these kinds of questions and objections. Even the most supportive friends and family members seem to offer up resistance or incredulity when we take positive steps to improve our health and longevity.
These actions will help us live longer, healthier, happier lives! So why do we face resistance?
Sometimes I catch myself reacting in the same way. When I do, I try to examine why I felt so negative. And I think I’ve found the answer.
It all comes back to the cognitive bias known as hyperbolic discounting:
The most important consequence of hyperbolic discounting is that it creates temporary preferences for small rewards that occur sooner over larger, later ones. Individuals using hyperbolic discounting reveal a strong tendency to make choices that are inconsistent over time – they make choices today that their future self would prefer not to have made, despite knowing the same information.
In other words, our brains default to lazy, short-term thinking and neglect the long-term possibilities of self-improvement. As a result, we experience cognitive dissonance — and that uncomfortable feeling makes us react negatively.
Next time someone close to you takes steps to improve their life and longevity:
💪 Challenge yourself: Suppress any negative reaction and offer your full support.
🤔 Ask yourself: How might taking similar steps improve my life and longevity?
A version of this post first appeared in my weekly newsletter, Twenty-One Hundred.
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