10 Ways Your Brain is Wired to be Lazy

how you can weaponize certain failure TO succeed

Posted By: TeamTKN

I remember ranting to Dr. Kashey about some inexplicable, unsolvable behavior I was dealing with at the time. I honestly can’t remember what it was. The part I do remember was Dr. Kashey’s simple response: what do you like about it? There must be something.


I have lost count of how many of these little incisive questions have completely reoriented me.


I had spent a lifetime of feeling at war between my “good” bits and “bad” bits. I just couldn’t seem to stomp the “bad’ bits out (ironic process theory or something like that).


After months of having Dr. Kashey listen to me monologue about my successes and failures without judgement and labels, I began to be able to observe my own thoughts and actions without judgement labels.


Dr. Kashey taught me how to recognize my actions at face value, understand their motivators and weaponize those in a way that made me happy.


This is why I so appreciate his treatment of  Dr. Daniel Kahneman’s hit book, Thinking Fast and Slow. In case you missed it, or you just need a quick refresher: 


Your System-1 Brain is “fast” and impulsive, while your System-2 Brain is “slow” and rational. 


Impulsive System 1 Brain

Your impulsive system 1 brain is "fast", feels automatic, emotional, impulsive, binary.

Rational System 2 Brain

Your rational system 2 brain is "slow", reasonable, logical, deliberate, calculating, multidimensional

When I read this book, I quickly tossed System-1 into the “bad” category and System-2 into the “good” category and moved on with my life.


Instead, Dr. Kashey simply reminds us that BOTH processes of thinking are an important part of how your brain operates. Rather than trying to “fix” the oversimplifications or biases that your system-1 brain offers, Dr. K works through how to identify these decision-making shortcuts, so you can use them to your advantage instead of falling victim to a self-defense system meant for “a time before fro-yo.”


To do this, we consider the question:


Would you rather do something that has a 100% chance of FAILURE or a 1% chance of SUCCESS?


Seems like a dumb question with an obvious answer. OF COURSE a 1% chance of success is better than 0%.


But how often do we opt for the 100% chance of failure


I am willing to bet that you can find all sorts of fun examples where you continued to do what was familiar, even if you KNEW it would end in misery, instead of trying something new that might just make you happy.


I know I can.


Rather than that mock these choices, I ask you,


What do you like about the 100% chance of failure?


There must be something.


My guess is that something is: CERTAINTY.


As Virginia Satir put it, “People prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty.”


And there is a reason for that.


We crave knowing that our expectations will match our reality. When our expectations deviate from reality, it gets stored in our brain like a wine stain on a white carpet. It’s like a cognitive toxin.


When we experience an expectation-reality mismatch, we:

  1. Hesitate
  2. Scan for threats
  3. Create doubt
  4. Recall and anchor previous bad experiences to further justify our hesitation to act
  5. Engage in depressive thinking

Each time that wheel cranks, friction is generated. And that friction is emitted as depressive thinking. Go through enough loops and this depressive thinking turns into full-blown depression.


When we are caught in this loop, we need something to break the cycle. We CRAVE certainty, and since it is impossible to magically change the world into a more certain place, we settle for changing the way we see the world.


This is where the lazy cognitive biases can help you.


They let you view the world in a way that breaks the cycle.


Think about the following shortcuts, assumptions and biases you use to have your life make more sense, reduce anxiety, and give you certainty.


Which ones are your favorite?


  1. “Overanalyzing” – Dr. Kashey’s “favorite”
    Waiting for the “perfect” time and “perfect” information to make risk ZERO.
  2. Certainty Bias
    Thinking in terms of absolutes instead of probabilities. This can even mean sticking to bad decisions because the thought of changing your mind feels worse than dealing with the bad decision.
  3. “Karma” Bias (and other variants)
    “Good” things eventually happen to “good” people and “bad” people eventually “get what’s coming to them”
  4. Completion Bias
    When there are holes in the story, you start filling in blanks so you can feel more comfortable. “It’s getting awful late, her meeting must have run long.” (MUST…?)
  5. Control Bias
    Victim or victor: it’s quick and easy to take all blame or no blame for an outcome.
  6. Negativity Bias
    Ignoring the possibility of positive outcomes. Focusing on negative outcomes in the past. Letting future negative outcomes outweigh future positive outcomes.
  7. Single-Edged-Sword
    Understanding that something could go wrong but only exploring the benefits of an outcome with any depth. By thinking this way, you can justify negative outcomes “unintentional.”
  8. Attributional Bias
    Mistakes made by other people feel like they are on purpose and intended to hurt you.
    YOUR mistakes, obviously, are accidental and the result of the situation.
  9. Dismissal of Anomaly Bias
    Ignoring something that happens out of the norm BECAUSE it’s out of the norm and defaulting to the simpler and/or most obvious explanation.
  10. Outcome Bias – Dr. Kashey thinks this is the nastiest one of them all.
    Judging the validity of a decision (and person) based on the result rather than the validity of the decision based on reason, logic, and evidence it was based on.  Rewarding stupid decisions that turn out well. Punishing good and reasonable decisions with poor outcomes.
  11. Bonus! Survivorship Bias. 
    Remembering the cosmic accidents and citing these miraculous stories as valid evidence of a reasonable decision-making platform.

Cognitive biases are important because they allow you to function under stress.


Recognizing 1) that you use them, 2) how you use them and 3) why you use them gives you power.


Are they lazy? Yes


Do they oversimplify everything? Yup


Do they protect you? Yes. Kind of.


Does leaning on this cognitive self-defense system foster success in your life? NOPE


But think of it this way…


Do painkillers cure serious diseases? Nope


Can they provide relief so you can take care of yourself? Yes


Can they also kill you? Sure


The key is in the dosage and the purpose


Learn to use BOTH brain systems in conjunction with an incredible support system and coaching, and it opens up new worlds of possibilities.


You become free to wade out into uncertain waters because you are not the victim of your own brain processes.


As you succeed AND fail on your own terms, you build up your tolerance to risk while reducing your allergy to success. Your dependence on these cognitive shortcuts dissipates.


You become capable of living with shades of grey.

You become resilient.
You become free.

TKN White Board Of Wisdom

Steps 1-4 are the loop and step 5 is the output. The more loops you go through the more depressive thinking emerges.

Expectation Reality Mismatch

When we experience an expectation-reality mismatch, we:

  1. Hesitate
  2. Scan for threats 
  3. Create doubt 
  4. Recall and anchor previous bad experiences to further justify our hesitation to act
  5. Engage in depressive thinking

About Jacquelyn Laporte

Jacquelyn LaPorte has had the privilege of working with TKN since 2018. The journey has been a wild one, but it has ushered her into the driver’s seat of her own life. She learned how to ask questions, answer them honestly and act on the answers. She has used this process to become a better parent to her 3 kids, a better wife, a better boss, a better learner, a better human. She believes that no experience is wasted, (not even majoring in a dead language with no career plan😊 or starting a business with 0 entrepreneurial spirit). Each experience gives the gift of new eyes. Perfect choices are not required, and that makes her free to choose.


“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, and every one of them sufficient.”

-Marilynne Robinson-

Trevor Kashey Nutrition

Team TKN

Team TKN cultivates, curates and shares Dr. Trevor Kasheys’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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