Wanting & Liking; Knowing & Doing- Very Different

In contrasting fashion I have read  and are reading books that take similar concepts from different perspectives. In reading “The Upside of Your Dark Side” by Todd Kashdan I learned that just because we want something, even something we want really bad, it doesn’t mean we will like it when we get it. He explains that wanting and liking are handled by 2 different parts of our brain. In other words, when someone else tells us we should have or get something because it is great, we may realize after we get it that it isn’t great. While Todd suggests this happens because different parts of the brain handle each requests infers this may be a problem but to me it seems this is a good thing and should happen.



To me the process of wanting and possibly liking, as handled by our brain uses science or the Socratic Method. It seems what we are doing is one part of our brain, without experience, makes an educated guess or hypothesis that something is wanted or needed.  We don’t know if it is right until we test it. After we test that something we will know if we do or do not want it. Isn’t that life? Marketing of course has confused the issue by manufacturing wants and confusing wants and needs thanks to Freud’s cousin Edward Benays.  I will talk about marketing in future post.


Based on a recommendation of a respected friend I am reading and learning from Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, health and disease. He explains we did not evolve to be happy and well adjusted. He also explains a lot about what Kashan says is our desire for comfort – an actual genetic desire. He explains we adapted to become what would make it most likely we would reproduce.

As he explains, adaptations to our biology happened to encourage reproductive success, not to make us happy or to have a long lived life or to achieve goals. If those needs overlap, then yes we did evolve for that purpose. However because we adapted through our evolution, what we were continually changed. Each time we adapted to optimize our situation, that optimization changed everything meaning we had to evolve again to optimize. These repeating adaptations are all part of who we are and helps explain why we are the we are. It also provides several reasons as to why we are less than rational. Our biology creates different wants and needs. We therefore are irrational because of our varied adaptations throughout our evolution.

Our irrationality is explained in detail by the Behavior Economics and brilliantly by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast & Slow. For more information about these topics you can see posts here  andhere.

For example, Lieberman suggests we get chronic disease because we are doing what we were evolved to do. The evolutionarily driven choices we make for food and exercise today were created for an environment of scarcity and discomfort not for todays world of comfort and abundance. This explains much…

I am learning a lot, I look forward to sharing as I learn more about how we can best generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. If you have read either of these books please share your thoughts. Thank you – I look forward to learning more…

Serendipity? Don’t “Have” a Nice Day – Make it So!

Make it so

People often say “Have a Nice Day”, as if will just happen. I try to always say, “Make it a Great Day!” To “have” a nice day means hope it works out while “Make” it a nice day means put effort into influencing the days events. I guess I take my guidance from Captain Picard who often remarked, “Make it so”. It was these thoughts that relate to how we can “Create Serendipity” or the occurrence of beneficial events or happenings.

One of my favorite saying is,”Situations turn out best for those who make of the best the way things turn out.” In other words things happen, like my accident that left me paralyzed and brain damaged, but I made the best of it and recovered – did I have a choice?  To me serendipity doesn’t just happen, if we prepare, we can beneficially influence what happens in our lives. We can’t know what will happen but being more skilled and capable provides us with the ability to adapt and use our resources to make it so.

We can’t control many things in life but going with the flow is giving in to the will of others. Most of us, myself included, want to have a positive impact on the world and to have a better life. Better to me doesn’t mean just more comfortable, but more meaningful. Making meaning is not always comfortable because it means pushing boundaries and challenging values and beliefs of ones own and of others. The value of this is that when we live in line with our values and do what we think is important, happiness is a byproduct or side effect without it being our direct intention. In this way we can have meaningful, beneficial results, and desirable side effects.

When we seek happiness, it generally evades us like a soap bar we try to grab in the shower as Kashdan explained in “The Upside of Your Dark Side“. A great read that I recommend because it highlights the value of being a whole person and the benefits of what many have portrayed as negative emotions. Evolution has its reasons.


After our house fire April 2014,  I carelessly said to my wife, we will be better because of this. She didn’t see it and became very upset with me (probably not the right thing to say at that time). But still that was my perspective. I like it when things work out. After a lot of work and effort and times of distress, which is probably where my wife was focused,  I am happy to say, our family and our house are now better than they were. Here is the original story I posted about the fire.

The idea to develop the idea of serendipity was sparked by a Fast Company  article, 4 Habits fo Lucky People and the reading of 2 Steve Jobs books – Steve Jobs and Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader. Both of the Jobs’s books made it clear that both Apple & Pixar’s success didn’t just happen, he helped cause it to happen. In the case of Apple, they were on the brink of bankruptcy when he took over in 1997. In other words, he influenced serendipity and  beneficial events or occurrences happened – it seems he caused them to happen…

I turned this idea into a presentation, “Serendipitous Wellness: Can We Cause it to Happen?” for the 2015 National Wellness Conference. This presentation was about how we can cause a better life and how. The link below will provide you the PDF of the presentation.

It seems that serendipity happens when we generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Evidence seems to suggest that selfish, selfless, synergy or the practice of paneugenesis is how to cause serendipity!

Contact me if you have questions or want to talk about how to make it happen for yourself and or your organization. I look forward to talking with you and also hearing about how you cause serendipity.

NWC 2015 Serendiptious Wellness Presentation

Yes to Serendipitous Wellness

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker, PhD