March 16th, 2013| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


According to neuroscientist Tali Sharot, research fellow in the department of Cognitive, Perceptual & Brain Sciences at the University College London, 80% of us have an affliction—optimism bias. Author of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, Sharot explores why the majority of humans tend to overestimate the positive.

This bias is the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of good happening to us and underestimating the likelihood of the converse—bad happening to us. We won’t get cancer, we won’t be hit by a drunk driver, our investments will grow, our careers will escalate, our marriages will succeed, our children will excel, and so on.

In fact, a majority of us think we are at the top 25% in our abilities to get along with others, our capacity as outstanding drivers, our attitude as attractive , and our demeanor as modest. More than 25% think they are in the top 25% in all these categories. Yeah, right. No one is average. No one! That’s optimism bias.

Sharot thinks this is all for our good. Optimism is beneficial!

Optimists always feel better: if they succeed, say in a test, it’s because they’re geniuses; if they fail, it’s because the test (and the prof who gave it) is dumb. Either way, they’re not at fault, and they feel good. On the other hand, those without the disease of optimism feel bad more often: if they succeed in a test, it’s only because it just happened to be easy; if they fail, of course, they are dumb. Either way, there is no hope for the future.

Optimism also makes you feel happy, because you get to anticipate (right or wrongly) a pleasant outcome, and anticipation is always exhilarating. Which is why most of us like Fridays more than Sundays. In one case, a weekend can be looked forward to; in the other only a drab weekday. Optimism = anticipation = happiness.

Of course, then there is the positive effect on health as anxiety and stress are decreased by the sunny disposition of optimism.

Sharot calls optimism bias a “cognitive illusion.” “Hope isn’t rational,” she says. But we are wired for it, because it is beneficial.

But Christians with hope are neither optimists nor biased. Neither is it anywhere close to an illusion. And as for irrationality, well, I’ll take God’s word as certain—it is going to happen as he says it will.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come … saying,
“Where is the promise of His coming?”
But according to His promise
we are looking for new heavens and a new earth.

2 Peter 3:3–4, 13

And our God keeps his promises!

Sharot declares, “Our brains aren’t just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.” Indeed!

For the grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation to all men,
instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires
and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory
of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Titus 2:11–13

He is coming again!

These temporal days may be painful and grievous, but the bliss of eternity and joy are soon coming.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17–18

Be an optimist—hope in God!








  1. Ken March 17, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Heaven IS our Peace that God provided through the cross of Jesus Christ for ALL eternity!

    Ken Kause


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