What if I tell you that you actually enjoy studying more than you realise? What if I tell you that scoring distinctions aren’t exactly the contributory factors to the fun of the course? All the hours you have spent boning up a text; compare this to that few minutes of bliss when you realise you score a distinction for your paper. What if I tell you that you actually enjoy the former much more than the latter?
Recently, an article in the National Geographic magazine – Your Brain, A User’s Guide to 100 Things You Never Knew, gives me a brand new perspective on the idea of examinations. According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, “nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” Kahneman believes that the happiness of gaining something or the pain of losing something, does not affect us as intensely as we think it would. The human mind tends to have, what the article describes as “impact bias” toward the emotion we have forecasted to a good or bad event. How we imagine we will react to a crisis or to having achieved a lifelong goal, is much exaggerated. We picture ourselves feeling traumatised if we were to lose our beloved pet, for instance. Or, we assume how ecstatic we will be when we strike a lottery.
However, psychologists think that these imagined emotions are most likely being dramatized in our minds. Our emotions to life-changing events are not what we have imagined. Kahneman describes this as “focusing illusion”. The foggy forecasts of our emotions happened because of several reasons; one of which is how we tend to exaggerate the importance of a single factor. We might think that love or money is the driving force in our lives, and upon losing it, we would simply collapse. This is because we tend to underestimate our own resilience and overestimate our reliance to certain things or people. The emotional turn-around is actually far quicker than we realise.
Do I mean to say that graduating from the UOL degree course isn’t as important as we think it is? Perhaps I mean to say that failing the exams would not affect our esteem as badly as we think it would?
“Getting there is half the fun,” haven’t we all heard of this? But, this article in the National Geographic magazine has certainly given me a brand new perspective. I think getting there is what the fun is completely about. This is because, the anticipation of a goal actually feels better than achieving the goal. How I anticipate I would write that paper, which I have been slogging for the past 12 months, is what makes me feel all buoyed up with excitement. What about the exam results? Well, if what Kahneman says is accurate, I might feel great for only a couple of days.
As the journey to the destination is all that matters, I would love to think that what makes one triumphant or proud aren’t the end results. Instead, it has much to do with how one has worked his or her way to it; the process of overcoming a challenge, the methods we have innovated in order to help see ourselves through the trial. I imagine all the ingenious literary concepts and theories I would have missed, if it were not for my undertaking of the BA English course. What we are working for is to become a person who is further enriched, because of the knowledge gained in the course of this UOL program. That itself is priceless and immeasurable.
So, fret not. All the dinner appointments, all the parties and what-have-you, that we have to compromise because of studying, I believe it would still be worthwhile in the end.
Tiffany is studying the BA English in Singapore.