Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Monkey Brain and a Trip to the Pool

Just after filling out my United Way pledge form, I overcame my inclination to sit at my desk through the lunch hour and instead walked to the swimming pool. I had a swim and then walked back to the office. Two thoughts pre-occupied me on the way there and back.

The first was: Keep your eyes peeled for engagement rings. XUP has found five while walking around and I have never found one.

The other thought was: What evil or weak thing am I going to wind up doing because I've exercised willpower and done this virtuous act of exercise? Apparently, we humans have some sort of conservation of morality principle and if we do a virtuous thing, we're more likely to do something that isn't virtuous. And also, each time we exercise willpower, we weaken the chances that we will be able to exercise willpower the next time it is called for. If this is true, it's the sort of thing I chalk up to the monkey brain inside us all.

It occurred to me that if I found an engagement ring, before keeping it, instead of putting up signs saying that I'd found it, maybe I would only do a cursory check to see if someone had lost it. But I didn't find a wedding ring. Even though I walked on the opposite sidewalks on my way back to the office.

However, at about 3:45, I discovered that I could not stop myself from slicing up a potato and microwaving it. And then after I'd eaten it with some of my delicious spicy peanut sauce, I couldn't stop myself from slicing up another potato and eating it with Barbados-style hot sauce. (I finished the peanut sauce with the first potato.)

The potatos are not supposed to be used for late afternoon snacks. They are for when I forget my lunch at home. Under my current regime, I am not supposed to eat snacks. If I am going to eat a snack, microwaved potatoes are more healthy and less expensive than either a Bavarian Creme donut from the Tim Horton's in the cafeteria or a Mars Bar from the candy machine.

I'm just hoping that the potatoes are the end of the payback for the swim. They may not be because I think I see my lunch hour excursion as two separate bouts of exercise - a swim and a walk. Maybe my monkey brain will see two potatoes as being sufficient.

But they were small potatoes.

Notes:

XUP finding stuff - Keepers, Weepers & Creepers

Conservation of morality principle

Buying green can be license for bad behavior, study finds:

Just being around green products can make us behave more altruistically, a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found.

But buying those same products can have the opposite effect. Researchers found that buying green can lead people into less altruistic behaviour, and even make them more likely to steal and lie than after buying conventional products. Buying products that claim to be made with low environmental impact can set up "moral credentials" in people's minds that give license to selfish or questionable behavior.

Our moral thermostat - why being good can give people license to misbehave

Through three psychological experiments, Sonya Sachdeva from Northwestern University found that people who are primed to think well of themselves behave less altruistically than those whose moral identity is threatened. They donate less to charity and they become less likely to make decisions for the good of the environment.

Wearing out willpower:

Rough day at work? You won't feel like exercising

A new study, published today in Psychology and Health, reveals that if you use your willpower to do one task, it depletes you of the willpower to do an entirely different task.

"Cognitive tasks, as well as emotional tasks such as regulating your emotions, can deplete your self-regulatory capacity to exercise," says Kathleen Martin Ginis, associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, and lead author of the study.

Peanut butter spicy sauce recipe in Chinese Dumplings at Home

2 comments:

XUP said...

That's interesting. Because finding those engagement rings and keeping them (even though there was nowhere to post a notice in any of the places I found them) made me not accept any engagement rings that were given to me.

RealGrouchy said...

Conservation of morality. I'll have to remember that. Sounds much more sciencey than "Karma".

- RG>