Is self-improvement worth the pain of psychological torment?
… Read the rest
This post isn’t as evil as it sounds because it’s yourself you’ll be tormenting. The method you will use is counterfactual thinking. If you use it right, you can wring money from the gullible and improve all kinds of things about yourself… just not necessarily in that order.
Poetry, Psychology, and Counterfactuals
When poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been'”, he was describing a counterfactual — the line of thinking we take when we imagine how a sequence of past events might have been turned in some other direction. Whittier was right in estimating a human being’s capacity for regret, but he clearly didn’t have a handle on a human being’s taste for the morbid. We frequently think about all the awful things that could have happened to us if we had changed just one thing, and that makes us feel pretty good.