Have you noticed the difference between something tasting good—that you like the sensation—versus wanting more—that it motivates you to eat more, though doesn’t always taste good? If the nuance sounds foreign, I’ve written on it several times. I use it to illustrate the difference between craving and emotional reward. In my experience, the difference seems subtle until you get it. Then it’s huge. Emotional reward improves life, craving enables others to control you, among other differences.
Here are some of my posts on it:
- Tastes Good versus Want More, explored in depth
- “Want to eat more” and “tastes good” aren’t the same feeling
- Examples of “tastes good” versus “want more”
- Avoid that addictive tug
People study this difference. They usually use scientific terms, which I find separates us from perceiving and understanding the sensations, as I explain in Less lingo please. More plain talk. and If you talk about protein, dopamine, seratonin, carbohydrates, and other big words you probably don’t know what you’re talking about. I prefer to focus on what we sense directly.
Still, some people like the scientific explanation. The other day on the Sam Harris podcast, I heard a Yale academic psychologist, Laurie Santos, describing this difference. She put in scientific terms what we can sense directly. If you prefer that approach, you’ll enjoy this clip.
I recommend reading my post The longer I go without flying, the more people talking about flying sounds like they’re talking about heroin to connect this distinction to common life practices. I contend most of us are addicted to things that others use to cause craving in us, such as flying, doof, etc.
About Laurie Santos
From Sam Harris’s page: Laurie Santos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. She hosts the popular podcast The Happiness Lab and she teaches the most popular course offered at Yale to date, titled The Science of Well-Being. Laurie is also the director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory and the Canine Cognition Center at Yale. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Biology from Harvard University in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard in 2003.
From Yale: Course description:
In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.
From Laurie Santos’s page: Dr. Laurie Santos is Professor of Psychology and Head of Silliman College at Yale University. Dr. Santos is an expert on human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. Her course, “Psychology and the Good Life,” teaches students how the science of psychology can provide important hints about how to make wiser choices and live a life that’s happier and more fulfilling. It recently became Yale’s most popular course in over 300 years, and has been featured in numerous news outlets including the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, GQ Magazine, Slate and O! Magazine. A winner of numerous awards both for her science and teaching, she was recently voted as one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant 10” young minds, and was named in Time Magazine as a “Leading Campus Celebrity.”
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees