Sep 092015
 

Happiness is all in your head

Here’s a simple yet useful life hack we can use in real world situations. It allows us to enjoy premium experiences at huge discounts. 🙂 We often hear that a high price equals high quality. But because we are humans, the way we perceive “quality” is a physiological process, made possible by enzymes, neurotransmitters, and tiny electrical signals in our brains. This means quality is more about subjective perception than monetary value.

For example, a study at Stanford University conducted a wine tasting experiment. Volunteers were given two types of wine to drink in equal portions. As they were served, the test subjects were “told” the price of the wine they were tasting. One costed $10 per bottle, and the other was $90 per bottle. But what the volunteers didn’t know was that both the cheap and expensive samples of wine were actually from the same $10 bottle, lol. Meanwhile an MIR machine scanned their brains to measure real-time blood flow. The results were almost mind blowing. 😀

The subjects’ brain scans showed that there was more blood activity in their prefrontal cortexes when they drank the sample that they thought was from a more expensive bottle. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that makes us feel pleasure.

15-08-all-in-head-brain-wine

In other words, the test subjects’ brains experienced greater delight when they thought they were tasting something more expensive, even though it had always been the same cheap wine. ? The brain can easily mistake high price for high quality, even when that’s not the case.

So the next time you want to drink wine, just buy the cheap stuff and pretend it’s really expensive when you drink it. 🙂 Pour some for your friends when they come over. Describe the wine to your pals using venerable words such as premium, estate, exceptional quality, etc. Your guests will think that they are drinking from a very expensive vintage. 🙂 And they won’t simply think it tastes like premium wine. It actually would taste like premium wine to them for all intents and purposes, as far as their reality is concerned. Just be careful to not drink too much yourself and accidentally reveal that it’s really just a $10 bottle.?

Brand-name drugs and generics both use the same active ingredients. Since we understand how our brains can play tricks on us, we can choose to buy generics to get the same effects as the brand-name label, but pay less money. 🙂

When technology companies release multiple versions of their gadgets we can just buy the basic version with adequate functions, and not the gold plated premium edition for 5 times the cost.

When we’re looking to buy mutual funds or other investment products a financial advisor might encourage us to pick the top rated fund that is the most highly recommended. But since we now know that high price doesn’t always mean high quality, maybe “top rated” doesn’t necessarily mean the best result or value. What if that particular fund also happens to have the highest management cost? It could explain why the representative is trying to push this product in the first place. Investment fees are small, but they can add up over time. So be a little skeptical, do your own homework, and be careful. 😉

Today we learned that we can fake quality without paying the high price often associated with it. 🙂 If we think something is more expensive, our minds will perceive it to be of higher quality even when it’s not. In the end what gives us pleasure is all in our heads. Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel like going on a scenic drive in my 8-year-old beater car. Er… I mean my brand new Rolls-Royce. ?

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Random Useless Fact: 

Here’s a YouTube video describing the results of the university wine study.

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5 Comments on "How to enjoy life more with this one simple mind trick"

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roadmap2retire
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roadmap2retire

Nice post, F35. I read somewhere that studies have shown that most wine sommeliers are just BS-ing you anyway. So, the illusion of quality is equal parts markups, marketing and sprinkled with some words of affirmation from an “expert”.

R2R

Anon
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Anon

In other words, happiness comes from moving away from consumerism.
Weird. ?

Product producers employ full-time marketers and psychologists in order to sway our brains into buying their junk. You absolutely can and should fight back, your happiness depends on it!

Meditation/pragmatic Buddhism also works (if routinely practiced).

Might also check out the site Less Wrong for some interesting insights on just how messed up the modern human mind is and how to trick it into better behaviour (like how to be happy).

But simple does not mean easy.

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[…] to wine tasting, the discount for the men can be seen as good or bad depending on their mental frame of reference. The first 4 men ganged up on the 5th man and patronized him for being too greedy. Then they went […]

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