Brain Food #635

The Goldilocks principle of stress

Thoughts of the day

We are all familiar with the story of The Three Bears, in which young Goldilocks steps into the house of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear, tastes their porridge, and sleeps in their beds. When eating from the porridge bowls, Goldilocks finds one too hot, the other too cold. She prefers the one that is just right.

The Goldilocks principle of opting for what is ‘just right’, has become a widespread concept that can be applied to virtually any area of life, from marketing, and nudging people towards a certain price point by sharing low/medium/high prices, to astrobiology, and the optimal conditions required for the development of intelligent life in space.

There is also the Goldilocks principle of stress, which suggests that no stress can be as bad for us as too much stress. Too much stress can be toxic, but no stress means no challenges in life, which is where progress happens. When we are anxious about something, it means we care. If we care, we will feel motivated to perform better.

In your work, but also life in general, ask yourself the question ‘What motivates me?’ When was the last time you felt you were in the ‘just right’ zone? How can you recreate and maintain the same conditions?

A life of growth is one that will contain some amount of pain. Not too much, but not without it at all.