Reading in Heath’s “Switch” that studies have shown that people presented with good and bad photos always fixate longer on the bad ones. People who learn bad stuff about someone else remember it more than the good stuff. People are more likely to bring up negative events in their lives than positive ones. Studies showed that there is no exception to the fact that attention to the bad is consistently stronger than attention to the good.
Having read this, I can’t stop thinking about it, which I guess is another data point for the study.
Rather than assuming it’s just pessimism, though, I think it’s a case of our souls showing themselves. We’re hardwired for heaven, for perfection. Anything less than that, albeit ordinary and common, nonetheless attracts our attention, because it stands out as odd. A lamppost in the woods would only look odd if you’re from a world where lampposts appear on streets. Cracks and fractures are only interesting if you’re from a world where things don’t get broken. Tears are only provocative if you think there might be a world where they might all be wiped away.
Anselm’s ontological argument claimed to prove the existence of God, because no greater thing can be thought, and a great thing existing is greater than it not existing, therefore by definition it exists. Not a lot of followers of that line of thought today. But what if our reactions to the world couldn’t possibly be conditioned into existence in this world? But what if we assert that we know heaven exists because we can’t take the world seriously otherwise?