Mindfulness And Loss: The Past Is Just the Past

Posted on September 3, 2013

Imagine this scenario. You've purchased tickets for an outdoor music festival, featuring several of your favorite bands. The tickets are pricey -- $400 -- but it will be an experience to remember. Then, on the morning of the festival, a major storm moves into the region, and a hard, cold rain begins to fall. It shows no sign of stopping, and you are faced with a dilemma. You could go anyway -- put on your slicker and grit your teeth and suffer through a miserable day. Or you could bag it, and eat the cost.

Some say the hell with it, my bad luck, but many go, and spend a dismal day being cold and resentful -- just so they don't squander the $400. But that's irrational. Think about it. The $400 is gone, and it's not coming back, one way or the other. Sitting in the foul weather is just going to compound their misfortune.

This kind of irrational thinking is so common that psychological scientists have a name for it--the sunk-cost bias. It's the tendency to persist with an endeavor once we've made an investment of money or time or effort. We're all subject to this kind of irrational calculation, and often the costs are far greater than $400. We stick with an unsuitable college just because we've stacked up some credits. We throw good money after bad with investments that have gone sour. We stay in bad relationships -- even bad marriages -- just because we've celebrated this or that many anniversaries.

So how do we recognize and trump this powerful cognitive bias? A team of psychological scientists has been exploring the possibility that a form of meditation -- known as mindfulness meditation -- might help people overcome this particular kind of irrational thinking.

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Category(s):Mindfulness Meditation

Source material from Huffington Post