Peak-End Rule

There is a cognitive bias known as the Peak-End Rule, which states that we have a tendency to qualify past experiences or events by the most emotionally-charged moment and the end of the experience, rather than the overall average of the event.

Meaning, if you have a terrible week, but one amazing thing happens, you’ll tend to think that the week was a good one.

Or, if you’ve ever watched a movie that was mostly pretty good, but then they screw up the ending, you’ll rate the film much more poorly than if it started out poor but then was mostly pretty good. 

This is helpful to remember when looking back on our lives with either optimism or pessimism. Our lives are usually considerably better than our worst memories, and much more tempered than our rosy memories of perfection. 

Life is messy, with ups and downs, success and failures. And often, these two states of positive and negative are more frequent than we might imagine.

Given that, what might we gain by remembering this when we’re on a high, and what might we gain by remembering this when we’re on a low?

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