The Morning After Bias: Hindsight Is Not 20/20

There is something fascinating about the things we want. The way we are motivated to capture our desires and goals can be a tricky thing. Sometimes it seems that we can want something so bad and go to great lengths to get it. After we find what we are searching for we can quickly loose our desire for it all together. With Valentine’s Day still in the shadow behind us it may be the perfect time to reflect on those feelings of remorse and why they might arise.

The morning after a night of indulgences we can sometimes find that we are not only dissatisfied but utterly disgusted with ourselves and the decisions we’ve made. If we’ve had a night of heavy drinking we could vow, in a state of aching hangover to never drink again. If we wake up next to someone we don’t find desirable it serves as a reminder that we need to make better decisions. But time and time again we repeat the same mistakes. So the question is ‘why?’

It could possible be that we are inherently weak and fall victim to our desires to frequently. It might mean that we need to practice will power and develop a discipline that allows us to resist temptation and see situations more objectively. That could be true.

On the other hand it could also be true that we may have simple satisfied this tiny desire and what may on some level resonate as disgust is simply satisfaction. We like to think of ourselves as more intelligent beings than our animal counterparts whether or not there is an actual difference is up to much debate.

If we are indeed more intelligent beings then why do we so often give in to our most basic desires? Animal tendencies are what lead so much of our decisions, we trust our intellect to a degree but when things really come down to the wire logic and reason fail and we have to trust our gut, heart, or soul. No matter what you call it, that sixth sense is often the thing that leads us down the road we do not want to go down and has us waking up the next day regretting our choices.

But, if we recognize that what we may be feeling in these moments of remorse may be some form of guilt, disappointment, or the discomfort of seeing ourselves for who we really are we may actually become better at managing when we decide to follow our carnal motivations or not. After all every action has an equal an opposite reaction so lets apply that here.

There is inside of us the part who tells us to live in the moment and just “go for it” and there is the person inside who tells us we need to think about the repercussions of this action and what it might mean for our long term future. This dialogue isn’t just occurring in the moments of decision making but it is also occurring in the moments of appraisal of the results.

When you have a head ache and are waking in bed next to someone who has smelly breath and crust in their eyes it is really easy for your pragmatic future thinking self to say “I told you so.” But this is a bias that is heightened  by the results of the situation and can cause feelings of remorse that have no place in the appraisal of the night before.

Imagine if you had just eaten a great meal and are completely stuffed and someone offers you a big piece of cake. No matter how much you may like cake, in that moment more food is the last thing you want to see because you’ve already had your fill. As you sit back in your chair and loosen your belt a soft glow overtakes you as you bask in the happy feeling of fullness you feel. But then the check comes and you are reminded that you still need to pay and even worse, have to drive home.

You are in a completely different situation than when you walked in to the restaurant hungry. You ate a lot because you needed food, and you kept eating because it pleased you to do so. To critique the situation from the place of fullness, and with the bill staring you in the face is only going to end in a negative perspective.

To really judge the decision as a win or loss you have to qualify every little bit of food, or in the case of the morning after, every kiss, and sip, and smile. Then you can really ask yourself if it was “worth” it. Do not be unfair to yourself and look only at the cost of the experience. For reason to truly be our ally we must employ it comprehensively. Not only measuring inches along our journey towards a specific destination, but enjoying the process of each step along the way.



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