Limerence

 

We all have a sort of status sonar. All day long it produces a stream a pluses and minuses and neutrals that lead to happiness, anxiety, or doubt. Much of life is striving toward pluses and adjusting our actions to “plus up the flow”.

Further, this sonar system is actually geared more towards the prediction, or modeling, of the rewards than the rewards themselves.

The mind creates predictive models all day long. When one of the models accurately predicts reality, then the mind experiences a little surge of reward, or at least a reassuring feeling of tranquility. When the model contradicts reality, then there’s tension and concern. 

When there’s tension between the inner models and the outer world, we try to find changes in thoughts or behavior that will help us live in harmony with it. This is the source of our desire, our striving. When we finally grasp something new that we desire, whether it be a situation or mastery of some new skill or task, that tension is erased and we find harmony, happiness.

So the happy life has its recurring set of rythyms: difficulty to harmony, difficulty to harmony. And it’s all propelled by the desire for limerence, the desire for the moment when the inner and outer patterns mesh. This drive, this longing for harmony, is a never-ending process – model, adjust, model, adjust – guiding us onward. 

The best example of limerence in the book is the political talk show host. Cable TV pundits make millions reinforcing their audience’s inner models and telling them how right they are. They often bend reality in order to do so.

 

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