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Rated: E · Essay · Other · #2189513
When we look for justification, perhaps we should search within not without.
Many clichés are nothing more than innocuous phrases that have been repeated ad nauseam. Remnants of slang passed down through the decades until the original meaning is warped or simply lost entirely. Several of these tired expressions are timeless, able to be used in a variety of situations. But there is one I would like to focus on today.

‘All’s well that ends well’.

Fairly harmless, we’ve all said this with an accompanied shrug. A tree fell on your house? Well at least the insurance paid for it. Got into a car accident? Look on the bright side, now you have a newer vehicle. Your boss fired you? It’s a good thing you got hired at a better job. All’s well that ends well.

But is it really? If you think about it, this phrase sounds awfully similar to another one…

‘The ends justify the means.’ Here, the twisted logic reveals itself at last. None of us really intend this when we say things ended well, but the creeping doubts are always there. We should have driven better, cut down that tree, worked a little harder.

Our justification comes when things work out. Confirmation bias kicks in, whispering that our actions lead us to the desired result. Why are we so eager to write off our faults when they are unjustly rewarded? Shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes instead? But it doesn’t matter what happened along that road, all’s well that ends well. The result vindicates the means.

To understand this, we must turn to psychology. In the 1960’s, Peter Wason conducted several experiments to demonstrate that people are inclined toward confirming existing beliefs. When our actions are challenged, we naturally weigh the costs of being wrong rather than analyze the data from a neutral perspective.

None of us like to be mistaken: a fact both unsurprising and infallible.

It is because of this simple truth that we often give ourselves more credit than we deserve. I wasn’t wrong; it’s the world that’s at fault – not me. This line of thinking quickly leads to narcissism and sociopathy.

We all look out for number one. It’s just built in to ourselves, a self-defense mechanism our brains have developed. I suppose you could say this problem is as old as the hills. Instead of looking for reasons to confirm our existing biases, we should instead turn towards cautious optimism. Every cloud has a silver lining. What goes around comes around, so when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

If you aren’t picking up what I’m putting down, maybe you should read between the lines. *Wink*
© Copyright 2019 Ray Scrivener (rig0rm0rtis at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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