Peak End Effect
We all seek to be happy and contented with our lives. This can lead to a number of different responses which can include,
- Striving to improve ourselves or our environment
- Blaming others
- Hoping for things to improve
Generally, the actions listed above do little to improve our happiness. In this brief post, I will explore the peak-end effect, which is a useful psychological tool that we can use to improve our perception of our life.
Life is hectic and it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing only on the unpleasant or negative aspects of life. This can easily lead to a negative spiral of thoughts where each day appears to be worse than the day before.
When we begin each day with negative expectations (I will deal with this in a future post related to Framing), these negative expectations become self-fulling due to the powerful effects of framing which influences both our actions and our perception of the actions of others.
To improve our outlook on life it is important to understand how our minds work. The peak-end effect is a psychological heuristic that tells us that experience is perceived based on feelings at the peak and end of the episode. (i.e. it is not an average of the experiences).
So how does this help us?
How we end our day has a disproportionate influence on how we perceive the entire day (regardless of what happened).
To manage my tasks, I use a process that is loosely based on the Bullet Journal method.
Periodic reflection is important for professional development and I have incorporated this into my Bullet Journal process.
To take advantage of the peak-end effect, in my daily and weekly reflection processes I have included a prompt,
- Each day, list three things that have gone well (or failing that, for something that has not gone well, what alternative actions I could have taken to achieve a better outcome)
- Each week, list the things that I am…