Purging Feels Worse than Acquiring Feels Good

money in garbage can

“Losing feels worse than winning feels good.”

Vin Scully, Baseball Sportscaster

(Now substitute “purging” for losing

and replace winning with “acquiring”.)

“Purging feels worse than acquiring feels good.”
Simplicity Organizers

Many social psychologists* have hypothesized and tested this theory and widely agree that our brains process losses and wins very differently. These can be wins and losses on the ball field, the bridge table, the stock market or with your possessions. It’s within the realm of possessions that Simplicity takes special interest.

Regardless of disposition, almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more precise detail than they do positive ones. There are physiological as well as psychological reasons for this. The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, so this information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. We tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events than happy ones. This is true whether you’re the eternal optimist or the believer that the glass is half empty. This winning/losing dichotomy is human nature. Our survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less so to good ones. The bad stuff is more threatening than the good stuff is pleasing. In numerous experiments in which participants gained or lost the same amount of money, the distress they expressed over losing the money was greater than the joy that accompanied their win. We are more upset about losing $50 than we are happy about gaining $50.

So what’s a person to do?

The simple answer is to pay more attention to what you acquire so you can minimize the inevitable pain of purging. Avoid mindless,recreational shopping and concentrate on purposeful, intentional buying. You’ll have lots more wins and many fewer losses. And who doesn’t want that!

Remember Simplicity?

“Purging feels worse than acquiring feels good.”

* Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at
Florida State University, author of   
“Bad Is Stronger Than Good”.

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