My mum told me that potato with butter is a healthy meal. I grew up in the believe that this is real.
Until I found out, it’s not.1
The world each of us lives in is based on stories and assumptions about the world. All these stories and assumptions make up our reality.
Two brain mechanisms help us create a subjective reality, that is: a personified, self-made reality.
- Selection bias: Thanks to the selection bias, we see what we want to see, we hear what we want to hear and feel what we want to feel. Whatever you focus on adds up. This happens rather subconsciously than consciously. Try this self experiment: Focus on pregnant women for a few days. By the end of the week you will think the whole world is pregnant.
- Split brain: In the split brain experiment it was shown that we find explanations for actions we took in hindsight. Let’s say I accidentally yelled at my man. In hindsight, I find perfectly reasonable arguments why it was the right thing to do. Try this self experiment: Pay attention to your answers when people ask you why you did something. Did you really think that way before?
By combining the selection bias with the split brain idea, it’s easy to make up our own reality. You ask yourself why you see pregnant women everywhere, and you come up with an explanation like: people just value families more than they used to (read: more than I noticed before someone told me to focus on pregnant women).
If you don’t reflect on these thoughts and become aware of the pitfalls your brain constructs for you, it’s easy to come up with a whole story of a reality, that is made up entirely by you.
Mostly, this is the world we life in. 7.5 billion realities.
1 What’s healthy and what not is subject to discussion that I am not taking part in.