It’s all uphill from the bottom…


There’s a concept in negotiation called ‘anchoring’, which plays on the human weakness to focus on one bit of information whilst ignoring all other sensible information. If you’re negotiating for an item, and offer an initial bid of £20, inevitably you will have anchored the £20 figure in the seller’s mind.

“No, it’s worth £30.”“I’ll come up to £23.”“Meet me halfway at £25 and we have a deal.”“Deal.”

The reality is, that “halfway” has just been plucked out of thin air. The seller could have steadfastly stuck to their initial valuation of £30, but would have felt it ‘unreasonable’ to them for whatever reason.They could even have asked for £26, but when you said £20 it ‘anchored’ that figure in their mind to the point that coming too far towards their valuation and over half the distance away from your very first offer would have been unfair in their minds.

Everything from then on would be a comparison to that earlier figure – a figure you were never going to work your way towards or agree on.We humans have very complex brains, but fall in to these simple traps all the time. It is especially prevalent when it comes to facing the normality of every-day life, and can get us caught in a hole for longer than we expect.Many of us remember a period in our lives where everything was going well – it’s our paradigm of happiness and can often be the ‘happy place’ we go to when we try to lift ourselves out of a slump. It doesn’t have to be the happiest moment of our lives, just a period where everything was steady and good.For some it’s a period in childhood, where long summers were filled with effortless joy and sunshine. For others it was university (before the exams and responsibilities kicked in). Others find it somewhere else along the journey of life, maybe after starting a new job or getting married.For all of us, these are anchors – periods of time that stand prominently in our minds, that we feel intrinsically tied to. We might feel like the only way we can truly be normal is to return to that period, or to try to get close to it.We spend our time preoccupied with recapturing it, and feel like failing to do so, is failing in life.We find ourselves comparing our current situation to that point in the past, and focusing on the differences. We feel that if we don’t work our way up towards that point again then we will never truly return to that ‘normality’, and that everything below that line is a life wasted.The truth is, a life dedicated to recapturing a moment in the past is a life wasted.For as great as hindsight can be, the human mind simply makes stuff up sometimes. These memories that we consider are crystallised in our minds, have been passed through years and years of filters, and exist like faded and dog-eared snaps left on a sunny windowsill.The happiness we feel at the thought of them might not necessarily have been the happiness we felt at the time, but just the happiness we feel when thinking about it now.We look back with rose tinted glasses, to a period so far out of reach that sometimes we can’t really pinpoint what exactly it was that made us happy. We lose sight of the person we were at the time, and who we definitely aren’t now, 10 years down the line.We ignore and delete all the negativity that was going on at the time that would detract from that happy place, and see it as protected, in its own snow-globe of perfection. We all have our own “rosebud”.A great Irish philosopher once said “life is a roller-coaster, just gotta ride it”.We all start in the middle, and end up around there. Where we go from there is unpredictable, but that’s the joy of life.That idea of ‘normality’ that we all hold onto might have been a peak. It might have been that section in the middle where it’s a bit flat and unexciting, but it serves to push you along for the rest of it.It might have been a slow, clicky climb up to an exhilarating loop-the-loop. Who knows. It might not even have been the top yet.The point is, if we constantly compare where we are now to the very top of where we have been, we will always feel like we’re going downhill. Even when we go uphill again, we might find ourselves disappointed when we didn’t reach the very heights of where we had been.We might find ourselves ignoring the things that make us happy now, and fail to consider that we’re also way up on the lowest point in our lives. For as much as we anchor ourselves to the top, we must never lost sight of where that very lowest point has been.From that point, everything is an improvement. From that point, we have achieved so much and been so successful in returning to a normal life.Even if we’re living that lowest point now, or have just lived through it, we can use that point as motivation to kick up and on from it to create our own new high.Living life with a constantly wide view forces us to live outside the day-to-day. I know I’ll never again have the kind of happiness I had on warm summers playing huge games of manhunt in the park, or out camping in a remote but sunny patch of land in the Isle of Man. I know I will never reclaim that stress and responsibility free period of the first year of university, nor will I reclaim the happy honeymoon period of having passed my law exams.I know that, but that doesn’t make me unhappy. That was a different time. It was a different kind of happiness. It was a completely different me. The me of today would get rapidly sick of doing nothing, and would miss the things that make me happy now. The me of back then would have found my present happiness and the things that make me happy completely boring and mundane.Instead, I think of where I have been, at the very lowest, and appreciate everything I have. I try to live in the day to day, and remember that where I am now is so much better than where I have been or could be.I never know where I am on the ride-of-life, but it’s so much more entertaining looking forward and anticipating what might be next.Life is a roller-coaster. You’ve just gotta ride it.

So don’t fight it, fight it, fight it(Na, na, na, na, na)Don’t fight it, fight it, fight it(Na, na, na, na, na)Don’t fight it, fight it, fight it(Na, na, na, na, na)Don’t fight it, fight it, fight it(Na, na, na, na, na)Don’t fight it, fight it, fight it(Na, na, na, na, na)(Na, na, na, na, na)

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